Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Cambridge (2008) Proc Physiol Soc 11, C35

Oral Communications

Effect of podcasts and mobile assessment on student performance in a final year undergraduate biomedical sciences module.

N. P. Morris1

1. University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.


Higher education students increasingly expect their lecturers to supplement traditional forms of teaching with ‘blended learning’ approaches, including video lectures, podcasts, online quizzes etc. Indeed, HEFCE and the UK Government’s E-learning strategy encourage academics to use such tools in their teaching. In particular, a number of US and UK institutions have begun to publish podcasts of lectures for students, but studies show no effect (positive or negative) of providing podcasts on examination performance. The aim of this study was to combine podcasts of extracts of lectures with mobile assessments (via SMS on mobile phones) to evaluate the effect on examination performance. Students (n=100) on a final year, research-led, module on brain and behaviour were randomly divided into control (n=50) and trial (n=50) groups. The trial group were given access to podcasts / mobile formative assessments for fourteen lectures on the module. The control group were not able to access the resources. Towards the end of the module, all students on the module completed a formative MCQ assessment (under examination conditions) on the material in the fourteen lectures. Following this assessment, the control group were given access to the podcasts / mobile assessments for revision purposes. Students in the trial group who listened to podcasts of the lectures and completed mobile assessments (n=31) performed significantly better in the formative assessment (58.1±1, mean±S.E.M; P<0.05, Student’s T-Test) than other students in the group (52.2 ± 2; n=54). Students accessed the podcasts via iTunes (or similar software; 38%), from the institutional virtual learning environment (31%), or using a combination of the two (31%). Interestingly, only around 21% of students listened to the majority of their podcasts away from a computer. The results of this study indicate that providing supporting resources does have a positive impact on student performance.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements