Availability of Internet Download Lecture Audio Files on Class Attendance and Examination Performance
Gary N. Elsasser, Eric B. Hoie, Christopher J. Destache, Michael S. Monaghan
Objectives. To compare the impact of digitally recorded lecture audio files on student class attendance and examination performance.
Methods. Digitally recorded lecture audio files that had not been available to students for download in the first semester of a two-semester course sequence were made available the second semester. Upon completion of the course students completed a questionnaire describing the usefulness of lecture audio files and its impact on attendance. Similarly, faculty was asked to estimate lecture attendance. Examination scores were compared to the previous semester and the previous year.
Results. One hundred percent of students (n=105) returned completed questionnaires. Ninety-six respondents (91%) reported using the audio files as a replacement for attending lecture. Likewise, 100% of faculty reported a decrease in student attendance by at least 25% from the previous year. Students’ spring 2005 mean exam scores increased by 2% over the previous semester and almost 4% higher than the previous year (p < 0.05). This is despite having mean exam scores that were significantly lower (p < 0.005) when comparing fall 2004 scores to those of fall 2003.
Conclusions. The availability of digital lecture audio files significantly impacted classroom attendance at the same time improving examination performance.
Keywords: class attendance, technology, pharmacy students, attendance, teaching, lecture, policy, required attendance, mandatory attendance, exam performance
The causal dependence of class attendance on academic performance has long been a source of debate and controversy.1-5 With each new advent of technology there is generated another argument for and against the need for class attendance.5, 6 In 2000, Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions became the first pharmacy school to offer a distance pathway leading to the doctor of pharmacy degree in parallel to the campus experience. Parity between the pathways was a primary focus.
The Pharmacotherapeutics (PHA 450, 460) courses are presented over a two semester sequence and team-taught in the fall and spring to students’ entering their third professional year. The course met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 9:50 A.M. In addition, the class was divided with each half meeting Monday or Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. This period served as a case study experience designed to assist the student in the integration of didactically presented material via a case study format. Student assessment was accomplished each semester via 5-100 point short answer examinations, spaced throughout the semester. Distance students were required to take the examinations on the same day as their campus counterparts. In addition, each of the 12 case study sessions was accompanied by a 5 point quiz. Students in the distance pathway met via chat rooms with faculty monitoring discussion. In the fall of 2003, in order to accommodate distance-based students we began to digitally record the campus-based lectures and offered them via internet download to distance pathway students in addition to the PowerPoint® lecture slides. Each digitally recorded lecture was uploaded by the Office of Information Technology and Learning Resources to the campus-based course website immediately upon completion of the lecture. Students were advised of the availability of the audio files along with the PowerPoint® lecture slides during the course orientation. At the same time, only PowerPoint® lecture slides were available for the campus students to download since they had the capability of attending live lectures. This policy was changed for the spring 2005 semester to allow campus students the same access to the recorded lectures as the distance students. With the exception of access to audio files, the format of the class did not change significantly from the previous semester or the previous year. Lecture sequencing, topic instructors and examination format was relatively unchanged from the previous year.
The purpose of the described investigation was to compare the impact of digitally recorded lecture audio files on student class attendance and examination performance of campus students participating in the Pharmacotherapeutics course.
As a component of a 12-item, Likert-style class assessment questionnaire (Appendix 1), students enrolled in the spring 2005 Pharmacotherapeutics class were asked about class attendance, impact of audio files and opinions regarding required attendance. The questionnaire was distributed during the final exam and students were asked to provide responses anonymously to the instructor of record upon completion of the final examination. In addition, faculty providing lectures both for the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 course sequence were provided a seating capacity figure for the lecture room and asked to estimate the percent student attendance during their lectures as 100, 75, 50 or 25. Faculty who had participated in the course the previous year was also asked to estimate a percentage change in attendance from the previous year (2003-2004). Finally, examination scores for 2004-2005 were compared to those of 2003-2004. Student questionnaire responses and faculty estimates of attendance are presented as descriptive data. Examination scores were compared using Student’s T-test with a p value of < 0.05 considered statistically significant
Table 1. identifies mean examination scores for the 2003-2004 class in comparison to the class of 2004-2005. Mean scores for spring 2005 class (access to audio files) were almost 4 percent higher than the previous year (p <0.05).
One-hundred percent of students (n=105) returned completed questionnaires. Ninety-six respondents (91%) reported using the audio files as a replacement to attending lecture with 12% of students reporting they used the audio files as a replacement for lecture between 16 and 30 times (20% and 37.5% of lectures). Eighty-two percent of students agreed with a statement that the availability of audio files aided their learning. Likewise, 82% reported that they listened to the audio files as a resource to study for exams (Figure 1). Faculty (n=7) described at least a 25% decrease in lecture attendance by students and as high as 75%. The faculty unanimously agreed that attendance had decreased by at least 25% from the previous year.
Comparison of Mean Examination Scores
1Statistically significant compared to fall 2004 (p< 0.005)
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