There is evidence in literature that students, on average, do not critically read textbooks before coming to class. This results in lack of student preparedness, and is detrimental to creating an active and engaging learning environment. The increase in reliance of incoming college freshmen on mobile phones and computers over books, further exacerbates this issue. One way to mediate this issue is to tailor the content delivery mechanisms to be more accessible to students via computers and mobile devices. This could enable students to become more familiar with the material before coming to class. Higher level of student preparedness could then result in more class time being used to discuss and explore higher learning objectives. In this work, we look to explore experiences of two groups of students, one taking a hybrid, multimedia-enhanced introductory Physics lab course, and the other taking a standard introductory Physics lab course.
We have provided some sections of students with an additional method to interact with the material covered in the lab exercises before coming to lab. Short Multimedia Learning Modules relevant to each particular lab were recorded and were available to instructors to use in their lab classes. In those (hybrid) lab sections, instructors enhanced the Moodle course pages requiring students to view the video(s) online before coming to lab, and to take a brief low-stakes pre-lab quiz. The students were able to re-take quizzes multiple times and only the highest grade was recorded; that is, the focus was on the fact that the student is interacting with the material before coming to the lab, rather than looking to rigorously assess their deep understanding of the material at this point.
The habits of students taking a multimedia-enhanced lab courses were compared to a cohort of students not enrolled in the hybrid sections. A questionnaire administered to both groups once during the academic term, gauged students’ general lab preparation habits and attitudes towards additional pre-lab work, among other things. Additionally, data from Moodle and Panopto (video delivery subsystem) were mined to observe frequency and duration of students’ interaction with materials. Moodle data was available only for a subset of the control group (not all instructors use Moodle for lab courses). This data will be reported in aggregate in the paper.
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