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How Do Diverse Classes Fare with Video-Based Active Learning?

By Henry Kronk
June 21, 2018

Classroom environments that use digital tools and active learning get a lot of attention these days. But discussion tends to lack nuance. An educator might implement a new pedagogy and measure learning outcomes, grades, engagement, or some other ‘across-the-board’ metric. But how does video-based active learning work for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds? With different learning abilities? With different GPAs? A recent study by professors from California State University, Fullerton asks just that. Published in the June issue of the Online Learning Journal (put out by the Online Learning Consortium) the study is titled “Student-Produced Videos Can Enhance Engagement and Learning in the Online Environment.”

Researchers Denise Stanley and Yi Zhang conducted this study among 87 learners in two online sections of a managerial economics class. For the treatment group, they asked learners to prepare their own instructional video on how to solve a typical multiple choice exam question. They then uploaded this video to their LMS, and others were asked to comment on them. Students were subsequently surveyed based on their background, learning expectations, engagement, and performance throughout the course.

Video-Based Active Learning With Diverse Learners

This example of video-based active learning asks students to go beyond mere comprehension or memorization. By creating a video used to teach others, they must master the subject first themselves.

video-based active learning
Adam Birkett, Unsplash.

“Our particular strategy represents an example of active learning and student peer provision of learner support and feedback, which could influence student success directly and/or indirectly through its contribution to student course engagement and satisfaction,” the authors write. “Yet it is a component that requires some technical skills, fluency in English, and comfort with public presentations. So analysis of student background characteristics and their possible interplay with the component can shed light on the observed actual learning outcomes.”

For student backgrounds, researchers looked at gender, GPA, race and culture, whether they received a Pell Grant, their mother’s education, and whether English is their first language.

In doing so, the researchers hoped to answer two research questions:

  1. Does the student-generated video component increase student engagement with the class and improve learning outcomes?
  2. 2. Are there any differences among groups of students with varied demographic backgrounds in terms of online education readiness, engagement in the online environment, and/or learning outcomes and satisfaction in online classes?

The Results

In general, Stanley and Zhang answered research question #1 in the affirmative, although they didn’t see the same degree of success with video-based active learning as other researchers.

“Students in the treatment section tended to earn more class points overall, receive a slightly higher grade, and passed the class more frequently, although the differences were not significant,” Zhang and Stanley write.

These findings were backed up by the written responses from students in a post class survey. Learners overwhelmingly responded to the video project in a positive way. A few responded negatively, but they constituted just a handful of learners.

“The video presentations were pretty helpful in increasing engagement within the class,” one student wrote. “Creating the video really made you learn the subject, while watching others’ videos made sure that I would keep tuning in every week.”

But when it comes to student performance and engagement when selected for background, things get interesting. Women and non-Pell Grant eligible students viewed online learning more positively. Learners with higher GPAs and non-native English speakers felt they learned more. Hispanics and non-Pell Grant recipients reported higher engagement.

In other words, by filling in student background in greater detail, it becomes apparent that an active learning project affects different students in different ways.

“Taken together, these findings suggest inherent background factors affect a student’s trajectory through online learning preparation, specific assignments, processes, and outcomes,” the authors write. “Our students with low incoming GPAs had taken fewer online courses previously, were less engaged in the course, had lower grade expectations in both sections, and ultimately achieved lower actual learning outcomes. A similar path was observed for the group of students whose mothers had not completed college. On the other hand, students with English as a native language expressed higher online experience but lower perceived learning than those without an English background; however, the native English speakers did better on some of the actual learning measures. These paths appeared across both class sections (with and without video production).

Featured Image: Hermes Rivera, Unsplash.