In this study, R&E consultants partnered with Professor Sehoya Cotner to investigate the use of multimedia materials to enhance student learning in a large, introductory biology course. Two sections of this course were taught by Dr. Cotner in the same semester. In one section, video podcasts or “vodcasts” were created which combined custom animation and video segments with music and faculty voiceover, and which were designed to address those topics known to be difficult for biology students. In the other section, “class captures” were produced for each class session which combined the output of the classroom’s digital projector with a recording of the instructor’s voice. Both types of multimedia were made available to students online through the Blackboard-Vista course management system.
Student reception of the custom vodcasts was more enthusiastic than reception of the class captures. Additionally, after controlling for potential confounding variables including students’ overall GPA, major, sex, ethnic background, high school rank, year in school, composite ACT scores, and initial level of evolution knowledge, we found that students who used the custom vodcasts achieved significantly (9.4%, or 2/3 of a standard deviation) higher scores on an end-of-term test of evolution knowledge than students who used the class captures. A paper describing this work title Vodcasts and Captures: Using Multimedia to Improve Student Learning in Introductory Biology (PDF) has been published in the Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 2010, 20(1), 21-35.
This research investigated the use of online practice exams to enhance learning biology concepts. Three large enrollment biology courses were followed over two years. In the first year, no online practice exams were given. However, three online practice exams were made available in the second year to prepare students for each of the three in-class exams. There were no significant differences in exam performance for the first midterm exam between students who took the online practice exam and those who did not. However, for the second and third in-class exams, students who took the online practice exams scored significantly (4.3 and 5.7 percentage points) higher, respectively, than students who did not take the practice exams, after controlling for demographic variables including sex, age, ethnicity, academic level, GPA, and ACT score. A paper describing this work titled Practice Makes Perfect? Assessing the Effectiveness of Online Practice Exams in Learning Biology Concepts (PDF) is currently under consideration at Computers and Education.
In this research project, R&E team members partnered with former OIT Faculty Fellow Dr. Patricia Schaber (Occupational Therapy) to compare the effects of instructor modeling on affective learning in face-to-face and blended learning (a mix of online and traditional, classroom-based learning) environments. Affective learning is a key dimension of health professional education and involves teaching topics such as empathy or grief that impact student attitudes and beliefs to prepare them to be novice practitioners.
This research project documents insight into the redesign process of a course, Professional Identity: Behaviors and Attitudes, from a traditional to a blended learning format, with a focus on affective learning. This study employed a survey approach to compare classroom and online student perceptions of learning across the seven affective topics of the course. The study also examined the contribution of various technology-enhanced learning activities to the students' perceptions of learning. Twenty-five classroom students and 64 blended learning students indicated that while both formats increased students’ perceived understanding of topics related to affective learning, the blended learning group perceived a significantly greater understanding in four affective topic areas. Furthermore, blended learning students cited reading, online discussions, and unstructured out-of-classroom discussions as contributing to their learning significantly more than the classroom group. The results of the study were published in the July 2010 issue of the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Partnering with former OIT Faculty Fellow Dr. Jodi Sandfort (HHH), OIT researchers are conducting a comparative analysis of the impact of paper-based teaching cases to digital, multimedia teaching cases. In a Fall 2009 pilot study, researchers gathered comparative data from students in two public affairs courses (one undergraduate and one graduate) who used the same set of written and digital cases to assess their impact on basic student learning outcomes such as foundational knowledge, application of public affairs analytics and the directness of integration of cases with other experiences, learning about the human dimensions of cases, the development of interest in the topics, and understanding about how learning takes place.
This project is currently in the analysis phase and the results are forthcoming. Professor Sandfort provides a succinct and detailed overview of her project in this short video.