L&T Session G – Learning and Technology

i) Video recordings of physics lectures , Martin Smalley Physics

Abstract Presentation: Session G i | Forum magazine article Recording (University of York login required)

ii) Learning before and after the lecture: the role of learning technology, Matt Cornock E-Learning Development Team, Academic Support Office

Abstract | Recording (University of York login required)

Dr Martin Smalley began this engaging session with a discussion of his pilot project using audio and video lecture recording in the Department of Physics with undergraduate students. Recordings were made by a student with a video camera the made available via the VLE and YouTube for student access and dissemination to the wider public. Martin explained how this approach could be used to capture the vivacity and dynamism of the face-to-face lecture while supporting students to tailor their learning to their individual needs.

Martin was able to inform the audience that the lecture recordings had been used by students to support attention in lectures, take better notes and enhance their understanding, especially with regard to challenging subjects. In particular, lectures on optics that were known to be difficult for students had higher viewing figures. Although students viewed the videoed lecture throughout the module, it was clear viewing figures for all lectures peaked at revision time.

MLT-Forum-06-15-87artin concluded the lecture recordings worked well as part of an integrated blended learning approach (VLE site), were very popular with students and seem to have had a significant positive effect on the exam performance.

Matt Cornock began his session by encouraging delegates to reflect on how they currently plan episodes of learning and consider the role of the face-to-face lectures within the lifespan of a module. Whist lectures aim to impart knowledge, engage students and inspire them, Matt identified limitations in viewing a face-to-face lecture as a one off event and proposed that lecture-based learning could be optimized by perceiving it in the context of a blended approach with independent learning activities. Matt suggested that the use of lecture capture in this context could enhance learner independence and promote higher order thinking.

Matt offered some insights into students’ experience of lecture recordings based on work with students in Psychology and Biology at the University of York. Students completed study diaries and provided comments on their learning experiences through face-to-face interviews. Students reported using lecture recording to help them take better notes and enhance their understanding, demonstrating active learning utilising lecture recordings as a learning resource. In some cases, students’ independent study was structured by the provision of recordings, enabling them to work through lecture content with a more scaffolded approach. Matt concluded there is a relationship between the use of lecture captures and students’ independent study practice, suggesting that learning design that incorporates lecture capture can be usefully adopted to support independent study.

Ros Browlow, Health Sciences, University of York 

‘Bums on Seats’ versus ‘Hearts and Minds’; questions of student attendance and engagement

Michael Rogers, Teaching Fellow, Department of Chemistry gives his summary of the Forum workshop ‘Bums on Seats’ versus ‘Hearts and Minds’.

To engage or not to engage? That is not just a question that students are faced with but also a problem that departments may need to deal with. The above-titled Learning and Teaching forum workshop, which ran on Wednesday, October 22nd  focused on two case studies that highlighted the need to address issues related to student engagement within the University of York. What follows is a few notes of one of the case studies and its subsequent discussion.

The Department of Philosophy identified an issue of student engagement in seminars. The observation was that students who had missed seminars early in term(s) tended to be absent from all subsequent seminars; this absence then had a knock-on effect for the remaining students and the quality of the seminars was perceived to be lower than desired. Discussion of this situation raised several interesting questions, including:

Why should the quality of a seminar be affected by student numbers?Environment 1

As a physical scientist, this seemed a poignant question. Much of the small group teaching that takes place in the Department of Chemistry involves groups of approximately 5 students and one member of staff. On the occasion that one or more students fail to attend, the remaining 3-4 students may benefit, as the tutor can spend more time addressing their specific concerns.

The answer, it seemed, was that seminars have a quorum that must be reached and the quality of each session is a function of its inputs.

Should student attendance be assessed?

The majority of those present answered ‘no’ to this question. The assessment of attendance was deemed to be an inaccurate measurement; consider the case of students who sleep through lectures, or those who attend a seminar and contribute nothing. On the other hand, it could be argued that by ‘enforcing’ attendance, half the battle is won.


Should student participation be assessed?

Opinions on this point were mixed. Some of those present volunteered their departmental methods for assessing participation. Others voiced their disapproval at the subjective nature of this type of assessment. Again, the likely inaccuracy of this approach was highlighted as a cause for concern. Some of those present made the point that the ‘assessed’ nature of a session introduces unwanted stress and may lead to enforced (and by extension, low quality) participation.

In summary, there was no clear consensus, other than to try and engender students with a desire to both attend and participate. Perhaps we should look to the Oxford English Dictionary for guidance, in the form of definition.

engage: attract or involve (someone’s interest or attention)

How attractive and/or involving are your lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials?