Development of Instructional Videos to Maximize the Time Use Efficiency in the Labs and Thereby Facilitate Active and Team Based Learning

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Mala Fernando, Department of Biological Sciences

Project team: Andrew Wylie, research assistant, Teresita Barbou and Gilberto Martinez, video production, and Rachel Wagner, narration

Timeframe: June to December 2014

Funding: $5,000

Courses addressed:

  • BISC 100 – Introduction to Biology
  • BISC 101 – General Biology
  • BISC 102 – General Biology
  • BISC 306 – Invertebrate Biology
  • BISC 318 – Parasitology
  • BISC 326 – Biology of Algae and Fungi
  • BISC 337 – Plant Biology

Poster presentation: View a poster (PDF) describing this project from the 2014 Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

Description: Microscopy is the most important skill a biology student must master during undergraduate studies. In the Department of Biological Sciences, I teach and have taught several courses with lab components ranging from first to fourth year level. Throughout my teaching at all levels, I have seen the lack of student competence in using the microscopes effectively and efficiently. I believe to avoid frustration at upper level courses we have to expose students to get a good grasp on microscopy skills earlier in their curriculum. 

In this project, I will make instructional videos of about five minutes long showing the essential basic steps on how to use the compound microscope and also a specimen preparation. To do this, I will make the videos in a FAQ answering manner (for ex., what if?, why so?, or when should we?) rather than students simply following a few guidelines. The videos will be posted before class on our LMS (Learning Management System, like Canvas) and they will be available throughout the semester so that students can use it whenever the need arise. The videos will also be available for all the courses, which use microscopes.

Data will be collected by using multiple methods, which include (1) a checklist will be used by instructors for comparing the first lab section students who haven’t watched the video with the second day students who have watched the videos, (2) a questionnaire will be used to collect students’ feedback on the effects on watching the videos, and (3) the instructor notes will be used to keep the record of time used for the rest of the lab exercises and interactive activities with and without watching the videos. .

Questions addressed:

  • Does making videos on the following topics be available to students to view at any time lead to better demonstration of these skills as compared to students without video access? 1) How to use a compound microscope; 2) Free hand sectioning and simple staining procedures of plant tissues; and 3) Thin layer chromatography (TLC) techniques.
  • To what extent do students master the following lab skills after watching the instructional videos produced in this project? 1) Operating a compound microscope to obtain the best image; 2) Free hand sectioning and simple staining procedures of plant tissues; and 3) Thin layer chromatography techniques.
  • To what extent do students think the videos have helped them master the lab skills?

Knowledge sharing:  

Fernando, M., & Wylie, A. (2014, May). Assessing the effectiveness of instructional videos in biology labs for student learning outcomes. Poster session presented at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Provocative Pedagogy, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.