Bob Stienen about the use of educational videos to teach students statistical skills

Portretfoto van Bob Stienen
Students thought the educational videos were easy to rewatch when rehearsing
Bob Stienen
Current role
Lecturer at the bachelor Physics and Astronomy at the Faculty of Science.

Bob Stienen teaches the course Practicum 1B, where 100 to 140 Physics and Astronomy students learn statistical skills. Many students lack these skills, because they did not take Mathematics A in high school. Bob uses educational videos to transfer the necessary knowledge and keep students engaged.

‘For the bachelor Physics and Astronomy it’s mandatory to have taken Mathematics B in high school. However, for statistics you need knowledge that you only get if you have taken Mathematics A, or if you have chosen Mathematics D in high school as a secondary subject in addition to Mathematics B. In those subjects you learn about probabilities and normal distributions, which is relevant knowledge for understanding the statistics that we use in practicums. So for some students it is completely new, and others can easily work through it. This makes it a challenge for us lecturers.' Bob explains.

‘Before covid, we gave the students one long lecture on statistics once in the course. Here we alternated between information and assignments where students could apply their knowledge. Students found it varied and fun, but we did not want to use this form for remote learning. There was a recording from the previous year available, but it was clearly not made for remote learning, so I definitely didn't want to use that.' In addition, for many students statistics is not their favorite subject. It was therefore also important to keep students engaged, especially during remote learning. Bob wanted to do this in a personal way.

Bob’s tactics 

Bob has been using various tactics to get students excited about the material and to keep them engaged in the subject.

Extensive syllabus

First, Bob has created a clear and substantive syllabus with all the information and material students need, including substantive (mathematical) examples and sample code that can be used to apply the techniques learned in the Python programming language.

Various types of educational videos

What used to be face-to-face education is now given in the form of educational videos, which are based on information from the syllabus. ‘I have worked with four different types of videos. The first type is the classic educational video, in which I explain things in front of a green screen. Those videos are short, around 7 minutes.’ The second type is videos filmed behind a lightboard, a kind of glass whiteboard. Bob uses this board to write down mathematical formulas. This way they’re easy to see for students watching the video. The third type of educational video is a Klokhuis-like instructional video about, for example, practical safety. In this type of videos, Bob can be seen in the lab, showing how to safely perform a practicum. The fourth type of educational video is screencasts. ‘For each type of video, we thought about how we could maximize student involvement. For example, we consciously created variety between the different types of video. The videos themselves were also alternated with assignments that students had to do in between.'

See the various video types in the clip of Bob

Personal announcements

Bob shared personal video’s which he recorded in a vlog-like manner on Brightspace. To mix it up, he recorded at a different location each time. In these video’s he quickly explained the intention of the coming week. ‘I thought this was a good way to address students in a personal way.’ Bob explains. In addition, the information from these videos was also written down in an announcement on Brightspace.

Clear week structure 

For students, the course is conducted in a clear, structural manner. The first three weeks were used for so-called ‘prelectures’. For each week, Bob created a checklist for the students. The checklist contained what text from the syllabus students were supposed to read, the educational videos they were supposed to watch, and the assignments for the week. These different tasks were alternated with each other to prevent boredom with one task as much as possible and to achieve the sense of constant progress. The checklist also provided optional video’s. All clips recorded by Bob were still available in the Kaltura Course Gallery, but also in the checklist, so that students could watch them directly. Assessment during the course was done through the appraisal of practicum reports from students.

Warm welcome 

Bob noticed that this way of structuring education had a lot of positive effects. ‘I thought the checklists would feel a little school-like, but students indicated it was actually very nice and clear. The checklists were used by all students and 60% viewed the optional material. I think this kind of structure is much needed voor students who have to do everything from home.' Bob explains. ‘Also, the students thought the educational videos were of high quality and easy to rewatch when rehearsing. In the evaluation the students gave the video an 8,9 on average!’ One negative piece of feedback was that the first week of the course was tough and that the students did not expect that.

Tip from the lecturer

‘My tip for other lecturers is to not only think about your course content, but also about what your presentation and its shape do for the audience. What do you want them to take with them? As a lecturer it’s easy to talk for one and a half hours, but students won’t take in a lot of information. So don’t only take into account what you want to say, but also how you convey this and what message the shape of your education implicitly (or explicitly) delivers.’

Getting started

Bob has created the clips in collaboration with the team of Radboud Educational Clips. You can find more information and contact the team to get started with educational videos on their webpage.

There are multiple tutorials that explain the functions Bob used in Brightspace: