SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – While many voters came across the first presidential debate Monday night through channel flipping, a group of Missouri State University students gathered to watch the event in its entirety to help professors with research.
MSU was just one school in a team across the county performing research Monday evening on how students react to the debate.
Today’s college students are plugged into all kinds of technology, so Twitter was the platform academics chose to analyze.
Before the debate, students filled out a brief questionnaire to gather some demographic information such as ethnicity and political affiliation.
During the debate, students were expected to tweet out anything they found striking with a hashtag. Then, they answered an exit questionnaire.
Assistant Communications Professor Eric Gordon said academics in his field will then analyze the content to look for trends in how students reacted to the debate.
Gordon, who studies presidential debates as an academic interest, said research shows many voters have their minds made up before the debates. However, the events allow people to see how “presidential” the candidates look matched up against one another.
“I do think there is a lot you can gauge from listening to them talk about issue stances but also seeing how they interact with each other and with moderators and with the content of the questions,” Morris said. “How well do they directly answer questions, do they kind of refuse to answer questions and come back to bigger themes?”
Students KOLR10 News spoke with said this election cycle either furthered their interest in politics or initiated it all together.
“This summer I really got interested because at my internship politics were very big,” said MSU Student Tyree Davis IV. “And I think that’s just where it kind of kicked in full force that I was like it’s time for me to start being a responsible American and an adult.”
The hashtag #comdeb helped college students across the country catalog their thoughts on Twitter.