This blog post and associated video presentation explores and evidences the use of teaching videos creatively yet consistently across a large Faculty in a post 92 Institution to both enhance the student experience and help improve educational outcomes. Our project is centred on a major initiative in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University running since 2017, which has led to the creation of over 2000 videos and screencasts to support students across the full range of STEM disciplines. Student feedback on the videos via comments to staff, or through NSS, and internal surveys has been consistently positive. Students say that they like the videos as they enable them to better prepare for examinations, clarify coursework requirements and familiarise themselves more quickly with “hard to understand” or threshold concepts.
Click here and the mp4 version of the presentation will download
There is an emerging consensus across the Faculty that the widespread provision of videos has made a significant contribution to recent improvements in student performance and in retention across all levels of UG study. What is innovative about this work is that we do not rely on anecdotal evidence of the impact of teaching videos on student performance, but that we have been able to measure it in a quantitative study of 1248 first year and second year undergraduates out of a Faculty of 6000 students. Whilst controlling for demographic factors, entry qualifications and level of engagement with the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), regression analysis revealed that viewing more videos positively correlated with final unit mark. Although effect size was small, video view was the only significant contributor to improved unit performance besides entry qualification and ethnicity. When repeating the analysis to measure the probability of passing the unit, getting a 2:1 or getting a 1st, videos significantly improved the chance of getting a 2:1 or a First, but did not predict pass rates significantly. These are important findings, given the importance of retention, transition and good honours outcomes to the landscape of HE today.
The importance and intensity of student engagement within Universities has never been greater (BIS 2015). Across the sector, students engage at unit, programme or department level; through mechanisms such as staff student liaison committees, internal student surveys and external metrics such as the National Student Survey (NSS) (Canning 2017). Higher up the University though, student voices become harder to discern. Their contribution becomes filtered through layers of academic management or reduced to quantitative measures of satisfaction. Worst case, students can be unintentionally or deliberately silenced by the unequal power relations between them and senior staff (Robinson and Taylor, 2007).
This presentation, delivered at ISSOTL Symposium in November 2018, describes an ongoing project to reinvent an undergraduate engineering curriculum in a post-92 University in the United Kingdom, based on the principles of relevance, accessibility and quality. The impetus for the project arose from institutional data that showed not only poor overall progression statistics, but stark differences in attainment and progression (students progressing from the 1st to the 2nd year of undergraduate study) between students arriving with traditional academic qualifications (A levels) and those arriving with vocational qualifications. The project involved twice-weekly hands on workshops with faculty from across the School of Engineering to address a series of problematic progression chains – sets of modules that build on each other in each year of study; propagate assumptions and attitudes about the quality and potential of the students at each level; and which currently exhibit the largest attainment gap between students arriving with Academic and Vocational qualifications. Redesigning the curriculum across a chain of modules is by definition a team based, and cross-classroom approach and the shared understanding that is developed is proving a powerful mechanism for a bottom up pedagogically driven approach to curriculum redesign.
The what and why of video support for Teaching and Learning
Short videos/screencasts (aim for 5 minutes max) are really helpful for students and staff alike in terms of raising teaching quality, reducing staff workload (as all students have access to your one best explanation), and students really like them.
They don’t need to be professionally produced or edited or take a long time to make – especially if you use pre-prepared powerpoints/pdfs/images rather than writing or drawing live. And ask for help from your Faculty TELA to get you started
The types of topics that are particularly suitable for video are
Exam paper explanations
Resit paper explanations
Coursework guidance and tips
All class coursework feedback
Solutions to tutorial problems
Core concept videos (short explanations of the key concepts that students must grasp to succeed on your unit)
Like many other UK Higher Education Institutions, The University of Manchester is ramping up its current distance learning provision as a means of simultaneously expanding student numbers, offering greater flexibility to students and increasing global reach and reputation across the globe. This change in pedagogical emphasis has been underway for a couple of years now, and a number of high-profile campus-based postgraduate programmes are currently being converted into a distance learning (or as we prefer to say a location-independent learning model).
As a relative newcomer to the world of distance learning, The University of Manchester has been working quite closely with Penn State University in the US, who have a renowned and well-established World Campus which delivers quality online courses at undergraduate, masters and doctoral level.
Last week we were privileged to host two senior Penn State University (PSU) staff members at our School of MACE Teaching and Learning Community of Practice – where the topic under discussion was distance learning: an academic and instructional design perspective. As an academic who is currently wrestling with the transition of an existing campus based programme to distance learning, I found the seminar hugely useful. My aim here is to share what I learnt with the wider community at The University of Manchester and beyond. Continue reading Distance Learning in a Research Intensive University: A Coalition of the Willing→
Dr Fiona Saunders: Project Management Academic and Educator