Instructional Videos, Conceptual Understanding and Self-Efficacy in the Time of COVID

Smitha Jose, Raji Kochandra, Scott Daniel


Advances in technology offer new opportunities for teaching. Many students engage with online videos that enable them to watch, and re-watch these support materials flexibly and at their own pace. In our large-enrolment introductory first-year physics unit, many students find the content very challenging. To support their learning, we have developed short videos of 4-7 minutes explaining concepts and providing demonstrations of the problem-solving process. Our study was originally designed to evaluate and compare the effect on conceptual understanding and self-efficacy of students engaging with two different types of videos: screencasts (e.g. Khan Academy style) and lightboard videos, where the teacher presents direct to the camera on a writable transparent board (the image is then inverted to be the right way round). Then COVID struck, and all our learning was moved online. Thus, in the second semester of the study, we only used screencasts, and focused our research on exploring the relationship between online engagement, self-efficacy and conceptual understanding of students. We found that students preferred lightboards, and that both semesters’ average survey scores on self-efficacy and conceptual understanding were generally stable or increased only slightly. This is at odds with other studies of similar cohorts. However, the small number of paired responses in our study meant that a self-selection bias may have skewed results. Scores on the conceptual understanding were weakly correlated with assessment performance, suggesting the presence of other contributing variables. Initial self-efficacy scores did not predict subsequent engagement. Instead, missing multiple early assessments was identified as a stronger predictor of failing to pass the subject.

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