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Description: The use of instant messaging groups for various academic purposes is a rising, but largely understudied, trend in higher education institutions. In the present study we investigate the use purposes and outcomes of three types of academic instant messaging groups or AIMGs. Formal AIMGs are created and managed by teaching staff, class AIMGs are created by students and joined by all members of a particular class, and study AIMGs are smaller groups created by students that know each other personally or collaborate in group assignments. To advance understanding of the role of these groups in students’ wellbeing and academic development, we pose research questions concerning their associations with academic performance, academic stress, and students’ course experiences. We adopt an exploratory frame and survey methodology to collect data from a large sample of undergraduate students (n = 1752). Our findings indicate that, at the institution where data were collected, high rates of AIMG participation is the norm, with class AIMGs emerging as particularly popular. We find statistically significant interaction between formal and study AIMGs and academic performance, as well as between study AIMGs and academic stress. Participation in these groups also predicts students’ social experience of a learning community, as well as their perception of the teaching they receive. Throughout, however, the observed effects are small and their practical significance is questioned.

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