|Civil Engineering lab safety videos
Courses with laboratory components are one of the major strengths of UBC’s engineering programs, and Civil Engineering (CE) courses are taken by students in the Civil, Mining, Geological, Environmental, and Integrated Engineering Programs. For those CE courses that have a laboratory component, we developed short (~7 min) instructional videos in order to give students consistent instruction, including safety and proper use of instrumentation. These videos also allowed students to conveniently review instructions as often as they felt necessary prior to laboratory sessions. This development significantly improved the student learning experiences by dedicating lab time to actual hands-on elements and interaction with teaching assistants (TAs). Video instruction also enhanced the consistency and quality of the course material by successfully eliminating instructional ambiguity, which was one of the main factors contributing to poor quality of lab assignments and student understanding of course materials. Through this project, we were able to invest in video production facilities as well as develop in-house video production expertise. This will allow us to not only continuously improve the learning experience of current students, but also has tremendous potential for attracting prospective students in the future.
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Noboru Yonemitsu, Instructor, Civil Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science
Products & achievements: Instructional videos: CIVL210 (Soil Mechanics I) & CIVL311 (Soil Mechanics II); instructional websites with video clips and virtual walk-throughs: CIVL315 (Fluid Mechanics II) & CIVL316 (Hydrology and Open Channel Flow); instructional video production facility (HD camera, tripod, lighting, light box, software, sound recorder).
Intended outcomes/themes: Improved student learning experience through video instruction for Civil Engineering courses that have a laboratory component by dedicating lab time for actual hands-on elements and interaction with teaching assistants (TAs). Consistent and continuing video instruction around safety and proper use of instrumentation, which further eliminates instructional ambiguity by providing quality assurance. Increased accessibility and opportunities for students to review instructional materials as often as necessary prior to laboratory sessions.
Evaluation approach: During the project period, a total of 4 student surveys and 6 Teaching Assistant surveys were conducted. The survey in 2013 winter sessions were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of video instructions mainly in areas of material formats, style of videos, and ease of use of the materials, while the survey in 2015 was intended to find the overall effectiveness of the whole structures of additional instructional resources available for the same courses. Results were used to improve in quality and format of instructional materials. TA surveys gaged the effectiveness of additional instructional materials from the teaching team perspective.
Findings: The investment in video instruction has notably improved the learning experience for students in CE. 294 students responded to the 2013 survey (75.7% participation). The majority of students agreed that the instructional videos were helpful, increased their understanding on how to conduct experiments, and boosted their confidence in operating lab equipment. Survey results also indicated that our production quality and methods were appropriate for the purposes of this project. Although the majority of the students were satisfied with this new tools, some modifications and novel elements were introduced in the second year of the project. 247 students responded to the 2015 survey (63.8% participation). Again, our instructional materials proved to be effective for students, allowing them to perform lab experiments more effectively and to generally understand course material more fully. Students that took advantage of the video resources found the material easy to use. However, in order to maximize effectiveness of these learning tools, it is critical that we develop mechanisms to encourage students to use the instructional videos consistently prior to their lab sessions.
TAs were asked to assess the effectiveness of the newly developed instructional materials. TAs’ generally agreed that web-based video instructional materials were not only effective for student learning, but also reduced TAs’ teaching loads during the laboratory sessions. The resources reduced the amount of time TAs and instructors dedicate to describing the operation of equipment during laboratory sessions, freeing up time to assist students directly in the use of equipment and to provide more personalized assistance to individual students. This improvement was reflected in positive teaching evaluations.
Dissemination: Eventually the results of this work will be disseminated in various formats, but the analysis of outcomes is currently under review.
Sustainability: This new video instruction program will drastically increase the consistency of instruction among instructors and across the program, resulting in an equitable delivery of course material. We will continue to develop the mechanisms to ensure that web-based instructional video tools are fully utilized by students to enhance their practical laboratory experiences for the years to come. After three years of project development, students and TA feedback, video production facility implementation and RA training, we are confident that any instructional video clips for CE and possibly IGEN programs can be produced without much external help. We will continue producing videos for other courses and continuously improve both quality of video instructional materials and mechanisms to lead students for proper usage of such materials. Furthermore, as these videos have further enhanced the effectiveness of our laboratory-based curriculum, this program has the potential to attract prospective students to UBC in the future.