Do Screencasts Really Work? A Study of Their Effect in the Teaching of Quantitative Methods

This paper, presented in practice based format, drills down to a core 2015 Conference theme. It reports a case study evaluating the benefits of screencasting over the learning experience provided by tutor interaction and intervention alone. The recent generation of business tutors have been encouraged to ‘innovate’ and pursue e-learning methodologies almost without question. The paper’s investigators raise perceptual awareness by rethinking their practice and this conventional wisdom in the light of the experimental results.
‘Screencasts’, in this case, were video clips demonstrating Microsoft Excel’s functionality, coding and application recorded by a tutor, and made available as learning material either at the introduction of the particular topic, its consolidation or for later reference.
The experiment was conducted on student learning on a Level 4 (first year undergraduate) ‘Business Analysis’ module across Business programmes in 2014-15 at Sheffield Business School. The case study comparative was with the previous cohort 2013-14. The module introduces quantitative methods and Microsoft Excel modelling of business’ hard-systems problems (after Checkland, 1981). Screencasts of Excel’s functionality, techniques and its application to the context of a developed case study were prepared. The 2014-15 cohort were granted access to this material whereas previous deliveries had no such resource. The sample was around 1200 students across the two cohorts. The consequences of access to the screencasts was measured in relation to the student’s final module grade and statistical significance is reported.
It is hypothesised that the benefits of screencasts in this context are students’ deeper understanding
of quantitative analytical methods and their application, and an amplified confidence in their ability
to articulate the taught content.