YOUTUBE, POWERPOINT, AND TUTORS: THE IMPACT OF OUT-OF-CLASS LEARNING OPTIONS ON STUDENT PERFORMANCE
Hamilton, Sommer B.
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This research project sought to measure how students in large-classroom environments respond to supplemental, out-of-class learning options. Is their performance positively impacted by tutoring or by online, always-accessible lessons? Above and beyond demographics and skills, what motivates students to engage in use of supplemental learning options? Responding to theories of ?just-in-time? learning and the learner-centered philosophy of distributed learning, this study put three out-of-class tools in place during the course of a fall semester to allow the learner to decide what form of out-of-class aid he or she would rely upon. Those three options included tutoring services, streaming voice-over-PowerPoint lessons, and short YouTube.com-hosted videos featuring the instructor. Over the course of the fall 2008 semester, students responded to two surveys intended to (1) capture their motivational approach and preferred study strategies and learning styles; and (2) capture measures of their usage of these tools and their reported perception of the tools. In tests of data to determine what led to the most improvement in student scores and what led to students? highest reported levels of satisfaction and perceived value with the course, the short, lab instructor-created videos hosted on YouTube.com were the only significant predictor among all three supplemental learning options. This finding provides broad-based support for ?just-in-time? theories of learning, in which information and help are readily available just as students are seeking that information and extra guidance. Therefore, instructors seeking to improve student performance may serve their students well by preparing materials to facilitate any-time access to course content needed to complete major assignments or prepare for exams. But there is a caveat to simply making any form of content available online or available any-time, any-place. This study advances the theory of always-available resources and learner-centered environments by further refining what type of media stimulates the most improvement in performance. The answer, in part, seems to hinge on what is most appealing to students (video plus audio, shorter material, content geared toward assignment specifics rather than broad-based lectures), and warrants future study.