Faculty Videos and Games: Enhancing Student Engagement and Performance

Does increasing the amount of time students spend viewing faculty research videos and playing course specific games positively impact course grades?

Yes, it does, in both online and face-to-face courses and regardless of student GPAs.

Image by Alyssa Robinson
Image by Alyssa Robinson

These questions were the basis for a paper on the effects of faculty-research videos and games in an upper-division empirical-methods course. We expected that a media-rich environment would increase student engagement and that this increased student engagement would enhance performance and increase student satisfaction with the course.

Working with ASU Online and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Political Science faculty created 10- to 20-minute videos in which they presented a research project; they explained what they found, how they found it, and why they asked the question.

The videos are part of a repository and, although the impetus for the project was the growing demand for research methods online, the videos have been used in online, face-to-face and blended courses.

  • We assumed that the video examples of real research projects, tied to theory, would add depth and breadth to the course. In turn, this would make research methods more interesting;
  • increase student engagement;
  • improve the quality and quantity of student interactions with faculty;
  • expose online students to a wider range of faculty than their coursework typically might offer, thus providing them with some of the benefits accrued by traditional students;
  • and raise course grades.

These questions are consistent with the media-integration model, which dominates the theoretic literature and research on technology inclusion.  Earlier research found that streaming video and audio explanations are better than textbooks at explaining complex concepts.

We found that online students spent 21 percent of their online time viewing the faculty-research videos. The correlation between video-viewing time and course grade (49%) was the same as the correlation between course grade and GPA (50%). We expected the relationship between GPA and course grade to be strong but were surprised to find that the relationship between video viewing and course grade was equally strong. The correlation between viewing the research videos and GPA was 24 percent.  When we controlled for GPA, the partial correlation between faculty video viewing and course grade was 73%, which was considerably higher than the zero order correlation between course grade and video viewing.  GPA and faculty-research videos had independent effects on course grade; they did not substitute for one another. Moreover, within “GPA groups” video viewing had a strong, positive influence on course grades.

Anecdotal evidence is consistent with these findings.  Students wrote, “the videos were fantastic and…fun to watch; as an online student, the videos are essential to making me feel a connection to the faculty; (the videos) were indeed informative.”

The videos “helped make the abstract concepts a bit more concrete and easier to grasp. I think the videos were…a good addition to the course.”

Another student identified a benefit beyond the scope of the project when s/he wrote, “I quite enjoyed the videos and found them useful not only as a tool to explain course concepts and research examples, but also – and probably more importantly – as an opportunity to sort of ‘sample’ other professors. The videos provided a kind of mini course from a few professors, which helped in selecting classes for the following semesters.”

Our project had one more element. The spring 2013 online section added games associated with the course material for each week.  These were drill and practice games emphasizing memory, repetition and retention;  and Quizlet (our creation tool) offered students variations within the drill and practice theme.

The data regarding the impact  of these tools is unequivocal. Students using drill and practice online vocabulary games had higher quiz and course grades than students who opted not to use the games.

Additionally, the inclusion of “mini-games” or “learning objects” in the course, while not measured, appeared anecdotally to increase student satisfaction.

On an anonymous course evaluation, one student wrote, “this instructor went out of her way to make it easy for distance-learning students. She…tied the different elements of the course together …. (making) learning much easier (textbook, homework, quizzes, discussions and games).” Another wrote, “The many sources of media ….brought diversity to the course material.”

Our project was a success. Many faculty who made research videos reported that students referred to the videos in conversations.  This was an unexpected consequence but one that was entirely consistent with the project’s goal of making students more comfortable with research.

The videos helped students become reviewers and evaluators of research instead of passive consumers; the games made them comfortable with the language. Course material often seen as dry became engaging, and as they came to appreciate it, teaching became easier and more rewarding.

Click here for the full article with citations.

By Marilyn Dantico, PhD, Gina Woodall, PhD, and Tahnja Wilson, MIM/MBA

Making Online Classroom Discussion More Dynamic and Engaging

Generating discussion in the online classroom can often be a difficult process, especially for those used to facilitating in a more traditional manner. Many learning platforms offer limited opportunities for faculty-student interaction and some instructors often wonder how to best engage students in asynchronous learning environments. Others are concerned with whether or not students will be able to effectively demonstrate subject knowledge given the limited opportunities for face-to-face interaction. Despite the occasionally restrictive nature of the online learning environment, it is possible to engage and interact with students but it is imperative that facilitators understand how to incorporate meaningful discussion into the online classroom.

Continue reading

To Get the Right Answer, You Have to Ask the Right Question

We want our students to develop those higher order thinking skills that are so crucial to developing those much talked about 21st Century Skills including the ability to think critically, synthesize, and evaluate. The development of these skills is essential for students to complete their degree programs, and enable them as citizens to be able to solve the complex problems facing our society in the future.

Continue reading

Extra Credit Quandaries

Should an instructor offer extra credit? There are many opinions regarding extra credit. Some education professionals hold the notion that giving extra credit is unfair and inflates grades. Others insist that students should earn their grades based only on expected work. The decision to offer extra credit can be difficult and ultimately comes down to the instructor’s personal education philosophy, the expectations set by the institution, and how the extra credit contributes to the value of the educational experience.

Continue reading

Sample Syllabus Quiz Questions

A syllabus quiz acts as a contract to verify understanding of important elements of the syllabus. The purpose of a syllabus quiz is not only to familiarize students with the syllabus content, but also gives students a chance to reflect on questions that were asked in previous terms. This helps the instructor avoid answering the same questions repeatedly, and a syllabus quiz can ensure that students are responsible for their own learning.

Continue reading

The Voices of Online Learning

In these Pearson produced videos, instructors Meredith Carpenter, Steve Lurenz, and Tom Stoudt discuss how they flip, create community, and change lives in their respective classrooms. Specifically, they mention:

  • the fail-safe learning environment of the flipped classroom. In a flipped classroom, the students can’t “do something wrong” as the instructor is there as a guide to redirect.
  • that online learning success is when the students come together as an online learning community with common goals.
  • the flexibility that the online environment affords the student the opportunity to review material repeatedly until either the student understands the concept or can compose an intelligent question.

View more: The Voices of Online Learning

It’s the Middle of the Semester… So, What Do My Students Really Think?

“Wait, are we already that far into the semester? There is so much left to do in so little time!

If this is a constant thought on your mind, or an all-familiar expression in recent conversations with other faculty and instructors, we might be nearing an crucial waypoint in the semester (e.g., midterm, holidays). Although it is tempting to be overwhelmed by the approaching deadlines and all the content that needs to be covered, this time also offers an opportunity to address other important elements of teaching and to check in with your students (Chickering & Gamson, 1987).

Continue reading

Setting the Stage for Meaningful Peer-to-Peer Feedback

Although many instructors integrate group-based or team-based learning activities into their teaching (see TeachOnline post on The Value of Group Work), getting students to actually provide meaningful peer-to-peer feedback can be challenging. Too often, cultural norms or fears of potential social backlash make students veer away from critiquing each other in a group setting or an online discussion forum. As a result, peers often do not know how to provide meaningful feedback and tend to fall back on statements, such as “I agree with what s/he said!” or the infamous Facebook-popularized, “I like it!”

Continue reading