For some students, video lectures lowers achievement

10 Jan

A paper just published in the journal Teaching of Psychology reports that for some students the availability of video lectures depresses both class attendance and achievement. Here is the abstract:

“In this study, I examined the effects of offering supplemental video lecture recordings to students in a face-to-face introductory psychology course. I employed a quasi-experimental design, in which one section had lectures recordings available (recordings of the face-to-face lecture) and one section did not, and I examined whether class section affected achievement and whether attendance mediated this relationship. Although students had favorable views of the lecture capture technology and thought it should be available campus wide, few actually viewed the recordings, and those who did used them mainly as a substitute rather than a supplement to face-to-face lectures. More importantly, the class with lecture recordings available had significantly lower attendance rates and course achievement (final grades), and attendance mediated the relationship between class section and achievement. Further analyses showed that the negative effects of offering lecture recordings were not global; instead, lecture recording availability appeared to increase nonparticipation (in exams, class activities, and assignments) in a select group of students. When these nonparticipators were excluded from analyses, significant differences between class sections disappeared.”

I liked the fact that this paper hints at the importance of individual differences. Some students do just as well with video lectures, but others are negatively affected. One of the great weakness of educational research is that much of it ignores these differences.

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