Recordings of lectures to date in the UK may have been made as much to assess technical feasibility as to make a convincing contribution to student learning. Student approval of lecture recordings in Australian undergraduates (McNeil, Woo et al, 2008) and in Aston psychology final years (Parson, Reddy, Wood & Senior, in press) is strong and suggests that they may eventually become routinely required in UK universities. If, when and how they are used by students to support learning in a ten week final year undergraduate module, and how patterns of use may be associated with approach to study (deep, surface, strategic) was investigated in this pilot study. Regardless of popularity with students, recordings may not improve learning unless they support a deep approach to aid reflection and deeper understanding rather than a surface approach to aid memorization and rote learning. This has a bearing on whether recordings should be made available and may also suggest developments to promote learning such as editing to highlight key points; implanting questions for reflection or activities such as case studies or quizzes.
Focus group data was used to develop a questionnaire about student response to and use of lecture recordings which was related to a concurrent measure of approach to study, the short (17 item) form of the ETL questionnaire. Weekly recordings were made using articulate software and loaded onto the module Blackboard VLE site. Data was collected using key pads and optivote software as part of a final revision class. Student use of and response to lecture recordings and correlations between the two measures are reported. Significant (deep), highly significant (strategic) and non-significant (surface) associations between the two measures were found. Less than half of students made much use of recordings during the module but anticipated use for revision was high. Students reported that recordings improved the quality of their learning, stimulated them to further study, that they were used to make sense of more than to memorise material, and that knowing that a recording could be watched later helped learning in the lecture. They also reported that recordings did not replace other forms of study, were not a satisfactory substitute for contact with staff and were uncertain about some live lectures being replaced with lecture recordings if this permitted more contact with staff in seminars or tutorials.
Although technical feasibility and student use has been shown, the study is limited in size and scope and the questionnaire needs refinement and established reliability and validity. Correlating questionnaire scores with approach to study offers questionable and limited support to the value of lecture recordings in improving student learning. The module used is concerned with conceptual learning and further research with a broader range of modules is suggested to investigate possible benefits and pitfalls in use of lecture recordings. Broadly, the use of recordings to bring some of the benefits of distance learning higher education to traditional university teaching and meet changing student need with economy of time and effort is anticipated.