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Feb 02 2014 - 07:00 PM
The Power of Podcasts

Title: Improving Teacher Candidate Knowledge Using Content Acquisition Podcasts (2014)

Authors: Michael J. Kennedy, Cathy Newman Thomas, Sara Aronin, Jennifer R. Newton, & John Wills Lloyd

Source: Computers & Education

Research Questions: Do podcasts enhanced with images help students learn and retain information?

Study Design: The development of online programs and new content delivery strategies for blended classrooms have made learning increasingly asynchronous and self-motivated. Even in traditional programs, new teaching methods such as classroom flipping use valuable classroom time for hands on practice and encourage students to consume lecture and text content on their own. In this more solitary learning landscape, content delivery methods must be optimized so students learn and retain information without the customization advantages of a human teacher. The authors of Improving Teacher Candidate Knowledge Using Content Acquisition Podcasts tested content acquisition podcasts (CAPs), audio podcasts with an accompanying visual presentation created using stock images that specifically reference points in the script, as an effective tool for course content delivery.

The authors created CAPs for 2 units of general education courses at 2 large universities in the Midwest. The 164 student participants were all enrolled in the same course, but for the units focusing on learning disabilities and high functioning autism they were divided into CAP and text-only groups. Both groups took a pretest and the text-only group studied the textbook chapters outside of class as usual while the CAP group viewed a podcast enhanced with visual images that covered the same content as the textbook. Because similar studies found that CAP students outperformed text groups, the authors provided the text group with a visual scaffolding to use with their reading similar to the stock images assembled for the CAP. To evaluate learning on the unit, both groups were given a 30-question multiple choice test and a maintenance test 3 weeks after the end of the unit.

Findings: Initial results showed that the CAP group outperformed the text only group by several points on the posttest, though the 2 groups had scored similarly on the pretest. The maintenance test results were more modest, but the CAP group still performed better, suggesting that visual podcasts have advantages for both learning and retention.

Moving Forward: The application of CAPs in this particular class produced better learning and retention of course content, but this may not mean that podcasts are generally more effective. The results of this study may be limited by the fact that all the students were in a text-based classroom. The novelty or mnemonic potential of the CAP podcasts could have led to increased learning and the text group may not have effectively used the visual scaffolding provided and instead studied as usual. Further research is required to determine the best method for individual study, but this article suggests that text-based learning may not be it.

Image: Got Noise? by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr