|Developing Video and Online Modules for Sustainable Forest Policy
In the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, a flipped classroom approach was introduced to deliver a policy analysis module is two upper level courses, one on forest policy (Forestry 415) and one on energy policy (Conservation 425). In previous years, students were provided written materials to support their assignment to write a ‘policy brief” in small groups, and the material was reviewed in class in a lecture with question and answer format. In year 1 of this study, flipped classroom techniques were introduced for four sessions, supported by two-paper written texts that students read in advance. In year 2 of this study, video tutorials were introduced to allow for an assessment of student preferences and learning impacts of text vs video materials.
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|Year 1: Principal Investigator
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George Hoberg, Professor, Forest Resources Management, Faculty of Forestry
Products & achievements: Four tutorials were designed to teach students the steps in policy analysis, as well as the distinguishing factors between a policy analyst and a policy advocate.
Intended outcomes/themes: To explore the effectiveness of and preference for text versus video learning tools to support flipped classroom in two upper level courses in natural resource policy. The tutorials focused on the following themes: problem definition, criteria and alternatives, consequences and trade-offs, and analysis versus activism.
Evaluation approach: The tutorials were released prior to in class tutorials in which student groups would be assigned tasks to complete that were relevant to the learning goal of that specific tutorial. The views/access of the tutorials was tracked from the release date to the in-class tutorial via the online course management system, Connect. Students had the option of watching or reading the tutorials more than once. The viewing of both text and video were analyzed, along with the quality of students’ policy briefs (grade comparison over 2 years) to ascertain the effectiveness of including a video tutorial along with the text tutorial that was employed as a learning tool in year 1. Additionally a survey to assess student satisfaction with the policy tutorial learning mediums was conducted. The results of the viewing and access patterns of both types of tutorials, as well as the responses given on the survey will be analyzed below.
Findings: While many students preferred access to both text and video based learning tools, when pressed they preferred text. While most students found video tutorials interesting and more engaging than traditional mechanisms they thought that reading text information was more conducive to their learning than watching a video. The effects of the learning technology on grades was inconclusive. In FRST 415 assignment grades did not improve with access to video tutorials; in CONS 425 there was a noticeable improvement. Deeper and clearer understanding of the effects of virtual learning tools could be achieved through further longitudinal and comparative studies.
Although this analysis only represents an initial foray into the complex debate surrounding new teaching methods in a quickly evolving digital era it does provide some interesting findings. First, the data supports that both text and video tutorials are useful to students. Second, and in line with the previous conclusion, students seem to prefer the novelty, uniqueness, and quality of the video tutorials. However, they also seem to recognize that for full retention supplementing the video tutorial with text is necessary. This leads us to our third conclusion, that students felt the greatest learning occurred when both tutorials were used. The proportion of students that accessed both types of tutorials supports this. We could not, however, detect any impact of introducing videos on performance. To different classes were given the same new course tool. In one case, their performance on the assignment improved, in the other it declined. To expand on this data and their associated findings the grades of students that had access to both text and video tutorials relative to those students with access to solely text tutorials will be compared in the near future.