Blended Psychology 304 – Brain and Behaviours

TitleBlended Psychology 304 – Brain and Behaviours
Duration1 Year
Project Summary

There were two elements in this project: A) Lecture annotation system and B) Online modules.

A) The goal with this approach was for students to have more control over their learning and the contents of the course by encouraging them to: 1) raise questions while they worked through the modules and in class, 2) choose topical directions in class, 3) annotate class slides as they listened to lecture materials or presentations, and 4) annotate and extend the contents of the online course modules. Such feedback and annotation from students formed the basis for changes in the direction of the course and for reviewing sessions and activities.

B) The goal here was for students to access and interact with comprehensive learning resources outside of class, in preparation for in-class learning activities. Online modules provided self-guided learning resources that prepared students for in-class discussion and collaborative activity. The modules included curated web content, created video content, interactive animations, as well as opportunities for student interaction and self-assessment.

Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2013/2014
Year 1: Project TypeLarge TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorSteven Barnes
Year 1: Funded Amount59,806
Year 1: Team Members

Steven Barnes, Instructor, Psychology
Chandra Jade, UBC graduate student
Soma Barsen, UBC undergraduate student
Linnea Ritland, UBC undergraduate student

Project ReportReport-2013-FL-Barnes-WEB.pdf
Project Outcomes

Products & achievements: Six open access course modules; chalkboard-based stop-motion animations to support the online modules; one 20-min hand-drawn animation on the topics of Donald Hebb and Long-Term Potentiation; Javascript animation; on-slide live lecture comments and polling using Poll Everywhere.

Intended outcomes/themes:

  1. Increased control in student learning.
  2. Increased student engagement, participation, and opportunities to provide feedback on course contents and materials.
  3. Enabled learning of complex biological and/or psychological topics through interaction with online materials and in-class learning activities.
  4. Student self-assessment.

Evaluation approach: The plan to give exit surveys to students in the 2015-2016 offering of PSYC 304 was curtailed. A survey tool has already been constructed and will be implemented in the 2016-2017 cycle. Anecdotally, the feedback from students about the learning modules and videos has been extremely positive.  Moreover, the instructor has noticed an improvement in test performance. Web analytics has been another source of information about the success of the videos, in particular.

Findings: The videos have been a great success, as illustrated by their rapid adoption by other instructors in the Departments of Psychology and Biology. Feedback from students about the videos has been positive--most students want to see more of them to better support their learning.

The instructor has noticed an improvement in performance on the first exam in PSYC 304, which, in part, covers the materials contained in the learning modules that were developed as part of this project.

Web analytics further indicate a steady growth in number of views of the materials produced, thus indicating that people are interested not only in the content presented, but also in the production process for making these chalkboard-based stop-motion animations. There has been global viewership of these videos, with the majority of views coming from the United States. The videos are being viewed outside of the UBC community by a wide variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

In PSYC 304, the instructor has used the learning modules in their entirety for two sections of the course since the completion of this project.  This approach has allowed for better student understanding of biological concepts in a population of students that doesn’t necessarily have any background in biology. The use of Poll Everywhere in this course as a class polling tool was another upshot of this project; it has served as online assessment of student understanding of the ideas being presented in class.


Barnes, S. J., Chandra, J.  (June 19, 2014). Chalkboard animations for Psyc 304.  Flexible Learning Open House, University of British Columbia.  Vancouver, Canada.

Barnes, S. J.  (July 25, 2015).  Chalkboard Animations for Behavioural Neuroscience.  Vancouver International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology.  Vancouver, Canada.

Barsen, S., & Barnes, S. J.  (October 18, 2015).  Animating Hebb’s three postulates.  Society for Neuroscience 45th Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA.

Sustainability: Given that any instructor can embed the videos in their Connect shell for their course or on their personal course website, this project will be self-sustaining from the standpoint of the videos at least. In fact, many other instructors, both at UBC and at other institutions have taken up use of the videos produced, but not necessarily the learning modules.  Most use the videos in class to support their lectures or other activities. The development of the technique used to produce these videos has also been a very positive outcome as it has led to the commissioning of additional videos for a textbook and the success of a recent Small TLEF grant application.