Why Go To Class At All? Lecture Podcast Listeners Outperform Class Attendees

Feb 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, Educational Podcasts, Featured Story

http://serc.carleton.edu/images/NAGTWorkshops/earlycareer/teaching/large_lecture.jpgAn article in this week’s New Scientist detailed a recent psychological study from the State University of New York – Fredonia. The study, “Can Podcasts Replace Professors?,” conducted by psychologist Dani McKinney, indicates that students who listen to class lectures in podcast form score better when tested on the lecture material than students who heard the lectures in person.

To examine the effect of podcast-listening on test scores, McKinney enlisted 64 students. Half of them heard a basic introductory Psych 101 visual perception lecture in the classroom, and took home a printout of the lecture slides.  The other half of the group were given the lecture in “enhanced” podcast form: they heard the same lecture, with the slides synchronized to the classroom talk.

Average scores of podcast listeners were not stellar – they averaged a “C” grade (71 %). But this bested the “D” average (61%) score of students who only heard the test material in the lecture hall.

It is worth note that the test score advantage disappeared among podcast listeners who did not take notes while they listened. Those podcast users who did take notes averaged even higher scores (77%).

McKinney thinks these technologies can “buttress” traditional lectures, particularly for young adults who have been surrounded by Internet technologies their whole lives. It may be that students who can access the lectures as podcasts can replay detailed or difficult parts of the class material. And classroom time may be better spent in dialogue among students and instructors, if crucial lecture material is available online for later reference.

McKinney hopes to extend this kind of study with a semester-long look at podcast use and test scores.

photo via Carleton.edu

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10 Responses to “Why Go To Class At All? Lecture Podcast Listeners Outperform Class Attendees”

  1. erin says:

    Love this. My question: with sites like iTunesU and Academic Earth offering classes from accredited colleges for free, is higher education competing with itself? Not sure, but I discuss it (briefly) here: http://www.atomicpodcasts.com/2009/02/too-cool-for-school.html.

  2. arjun says:

    This makes sense to me – if kids are focused on both the audio and video, they are getting the information in two ways, which is going to reinforce the message.

  3. ohn says:

    Well, if the podcast students got to pause and rewind, I’m surprised it wasn’t even more of a difference.

  4. If I can sit through the lecture and NOT have to hear the kids yammering in the back of the class, I’m ahead of the game. (Basically, I am hostile and regressive. If you don’t like it … screw you.)

    One reason I sit in the front, answer all the damn questions I can and try to monopolize the dialogue with the teacher is that I have to if i want to get anything from the class. (And the class is usually happy to let me do it too, so they can keep yammering about whatever the little dolts yammer about. [I once shut up for an entire class and let THEM come up with the answer. Man. It was sad.])

    I’d LOVE it if the educational system would offer classes by podcast.

    Podcasting can free me to ‘attend’ whenever and where ever I can.

    They can even offer podcasts for three levels:

    1) Free, unsupported, audit courses without having to go there
    2) For credit with podcast material and PDFs for testing and “BlackBoard” support, take courses without having to go there
    3) For credit with full attendance rights. Attend courses PLUS get something to take home with you for further study.

  5. [...] you’d like to read the SUNY-Fredonia article, here it [...]

  6. Erin says:

    Just to update my previous comment: Dani McKinney, the lead author of the above research, answered a few questions about her study (and what professors need to be thinking about) here: http://www.atomicpodcasts.com/2009/03/qa-dani-mckinney-suny-fredonia.html

  7. Joe says:

    This sounds good to me, but I don’t think live lectures can be fully replaced by podcasts – teachers are not just walking machines that supply you with necessary information! Sometimes it is the personality of the teacher that makes you attend the class, cause you”ll feel deprived of a possibility to experience a real happening. Podcast is a good thing when it follows or preceeds the lecture. Of course the lecture should be different and have more talk between the teacher and the students!

  8. [...] a ellos. Además, una investigación reciente demostró que, a la hora de las evaluaciones, escuchar clases en podcasts es mejor que asistir a [...]

  9. [...] Why Go to Class at All? Interesting question …interesting answer … [...]

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