Edmund Cannon Using Blackboard to accompany lectures
Fundamental issues • Officially we are meant to assess learning outcomes. But the official position evaporates when failure rates are high. • To what extent should students take responsibility for their own learning: is education • productivity enhancement; • enabling students to achieve autonomous ability; • pure signalling? • Heterogeneity of students.
Blackboard for lecture notes • Lecture notes augment and improve lectures: • Filling in gaps, avoiding mistakes in notes; • Allow students to listen to the lecture; • Especially helpful for some students (dyslexic, etc). • Disadvantages: • Students become more passive (affects kinetic learning, handwriting skills); • Powerpoint displaces Word; • Students stay in bed • Lose benefits of the lecture • Don’t read the notes anyway (procrastination)
A semi-controlled experiment • Compare two years of students. No difference in timetable for unit under discussion; virtually no change in anything else. • Compare second and fourth year that a unit ran. Same textbook, exam structure, mode of delivery, … • Two differences: • Larger year group (180 versus 130) • Powerpoint slides placed on BB after or before lecture
What happened? Lecture attendance fell from 65% to 38% Failure rate rose from 15% to 22% (later adjusted to 20%) Proportion of firsts rose from 15% to 20%
Is it possible to identify the effects? Even if putting powerpoint slides on BB is the only treatment effect then we cannot identify this from the selection effect. Using detailed data on the 2007 cohort, the strength of correlation between lecture attendance, BB usage and marks suggests an effect of 3 marks – but this may be entirely a selection effect.
Questions • In the lecture: powerpoint versus chalk • On BB: powerpoint versus Word • Lecture attendance: • Does it matter • Should we do anything about it (hand holding?)