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Editor’s Note: This study was designed to analyze the impact of the use of this technology on one course.

Video Lecture Capture in Physiology Courses:
Student Attendance, Video Viewing and Correlations to Course Performance

N. Whitley-Grassi and J. S. Baizer

Keywords: video lecture capture, streaming video, lecture recording, physiology, student performance, attendance, lecture viewing, student engagement, ACCORDENT,


Today’s college student arrives at college with much more extensive technological experience than ever before. These students expect, and often demand, that university level instruction provides the same level of technological sophistication to which they are accustomed in their daily lives (Pilarski, Johnstone, Pettepher, & Osheroff 2008; White 2009).  In response, educators are rapidly amassing innovative teaching tools including multimedia and web enhanced presentations for use in their classrooms.

“The gap between students’ perception of technology and that of the faculty continues to widen. Students and faculty continue to view and experience technology very differently. … At the same time, students’ expectations are important, and successful learning-focused organizations have long known they ignore these expectations at their peril.”
(New Media consortium 2008, 7; Woo et al. 2008).

Recording of lectures in colleges and universities is not new; however, the technology available to produce, edit and distribute these recordings has increased in sophistication and become much more readily available in recent years. Many educational institutions have begun to make audio and/or video recordings of lectures in large classes, allowing students access to these recordings via web portals and course management systems (Simpson 2006; Woo et al. 2008; Dey et al. 2009). This new phenomenon has been met with skepticism and, sometimes, fear from many faculty and administrators concerning the potential negative impact on classroom attendance and learning. That being said, it is reported in several studies that this has not been the case in many of these universities (Dey et al. 2009; White 2009). Anecdotally, the idea of dwindling attendance as a result of video capture conjures up images of students lounging in pajamas only half paying attention as the video of the day’s lecture plays in the background. Beyond lack of attendance, many questions arise as to whether undergraduate students effectively learn the material in a college level course from viewing the video recording alone.

Certain upper division courses in Human Physiology at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo (UB) are taught in large lecture halls, typically seating 400-430 students. These courses are taught in modules, with each module led by a different instructor. The classroom lectures are recorded using ACCORDENT® technology software to create video lecture captures. The video lecture captures are then housed on the University Instructional Support server and students have the ability to stream the videos at their leisure via the online Blackboard ® course management shell. The streaming video lecture capture is played using Real Media Player®, which is readily available on the Web free-of-charge, and installed as a standard on all university public computers.

In the present study the researchers examined the impact of this technology on course attendance and grades in one course. It should be noted that no students enrolled in this course can register to receive only online instruction. Nonetheless, many students choose to attend few lectures or even not to attend the lectures at all, and instead view the video lecture captures at a time that they find more convenient. Other students, however, do attend class and use the streaming video lecture captures to review lecture material. Thus, for some students, the recordings are a supplement to and not a substitute for attending lectures. Still other students are found on the continuum between these two extremes. All students, regardless of class attendance, had access to the same factual information and PowerPoint slides used by each instructor as these were also made available for students to view or download on Blackboard.

Figure 1: The video lecture capture provides students with a split screen.
It displays both the video of the lecture in one window, and any image and video being displayed on the screen in a separate window. The two windows are synchronized to ensure maximum quality. Video availability for student usage is not instant; videos can take 8-24 hours to be available on the web portal.


Faculty members and administrators in these courses have expressed an interest in knowing how students are using the video lecture captures, and what affect their method of use has on their academic performance in the course. We therefore compared the performance of students who did not attend class regularly and received lecture material primarily in a digital format with that of students who physically attended most of the lectures and used the streaming video lecture captures for review. The purpose of this study was to determine if using the streaming video capture of lectures as a substitute for class attendance actually allows learning equal to that achieved from lecture attendance, or if it just provides a temptation to not attend lectures and results in impaired learning.

Attendance at lecture allows students to ask questions of the instructor, before, during or after lecture, and also allows the possibility of student discussion of the material and the identification of classmates with whom to study and review. None of these potential advantages are available to isolated students simply watching the video on a computer terminal.

The null hypothesis is that here is no significant difference in performance between students attending lectures and those who watch the videos online and do not attend lecture. Conversely, the alternative hypothesis suggests that there may be a significant difference in class performance between students who attend lectures compared to those who watch the videos without attending lecture. The independent variable is the use the students make of video lecture capture, either as the primary method of acquiring information presented in lectures or as a supplement to attending lectures. The dependent variable is the student’s class rank based on overall course grade.



The population being examined in this study was comprised of students enrolled in an upper division human physiology course at the University of Buffalo. Most of these students are majoring in health and science fields including: nursing, pharmacy, and biomedical sciences. The study population consisted of approximately 365 individuals. The average participating student’s ages were largely between 19-25, participant sex ratios were 1:1 (approximately 50% male and 50% female), and the students’ ethnic background was similar to the university community as a whole. For purposes of this study the students surveyed were the “typical” college student.

This population was selected for this study because we have a pool of 300-400 students taking the two semester upper division (400-500 level) course sequence that have access to the video lecture capture via Blackboard® course management system each year. This provided a large set of students with similar conditions and modes of instruction and learning from which to draw the sample. This study examined the students in one section of an upper division Physiology course (ntotal_enrollment=364, nparticipants=122). To assess the use of video capture we used an optional online survey maintained by a third party website and kept isolated from course faculty. Responses to the survey questions allowed respondents to be placed in one of two categories: those who frequently attended lectures and used the video capture to review, and those who infrequently attended lecture and therefore relied on video capture as their primary source of course material. Respondents were then matched to their overall grade rank in the course.

The use of class ranking was chosen over course grade to enable a comparison of students in different class sections. By examining rank, it also would allow the inclusion of students in other courses in future samples as it would remove issues with varying difficulties of one class or semester to another. The divisions into these categories were based on self identification based on student responses from an online survey. Survey validity was checked for content validity by peer review.

A Mann-Whitney ranked order test was used to compare the groups. G-Power suggests a target sample size of 122 responses based on the following figures give an actual power of .85 (δ=2.69).


Recruitment consisted of an announcement via email and announcement within the Blackboard course management shell with informed consent delivered via course management systems, as well as a verbal announcement made at the start of the course. This pool of data were from a convenience sample, those students enrolled in the selected courses were approached about the project. Due the sensitive nature of the data (student grades and class rank), and the potential of perceived threat to the students, their participation had be voluntary. The survey itself was conducted online. The Chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, the individual course coordinators, and the University at Buffalo IRB granted access to the course students within this population.

Respondents in the data pool were found to have similar grade distributions to the class as a whole which suggested that the data were a representative sample of the greater population. Though all students’ performance was tracked, those students not wishing to participate were not included in the study data. Course grades were provided in a de-identified form by course instructors and administrators for all those students agreeing to participate in the project.

Instrumentation and materials

Individual exam performance and overall course grades were compiled for those students participating in the study. Grades in this course are based on several hourly exams and a comprehensive final. A point scale was used where each hourly exam is worth the same number of points and the final exam was more heavily weighted. Letter grades are assigned by total point ranges for the semester. All students are assessed with the same exam questions and have the same number of points available to them to establish reliability and validity. In addition, all students have had access to the same factual information whether by attending lecture or through video lecture capture of the lecture.

The survey asked multiple questions on each of the most important topics. Agreement between responses to each of these related questions assisted in assuring reliability of the survey. Face and content validity were controlled for by seeking feedback from several experts in the field of education, educational technology and survey use in quantitative research. Four experts were consulted and their feedback was incorporated into the construction of the survey and the survey questions.

Data Collection

Data were collected from students in an upper division undergraduate human physiology course. Data collection was done entirely online using an online survey; as well as data collected from course management software and course grades as reported by the course instructors and administrators.

Participants could access the link to the survey through the Blackboard® course management system shell. The survey was housed at an offsite third party commercial survey website (Survey Monkey: http://www.surveymonkey.com) to prevent access to survey responses by course instructors, thereby reducing danger perceived by respondents. Students read an informed consent statement, and, if consent was given, the respondents completed the online survey. Course instructors did not have access to this data until the completion of grading for the course. At the conclusion of grading, the results of the survey were de-identified and prepared for analysis.

Data Analysis

This study compared two groups, students who attended the majority of the lectures and also had access to video lecture capture and students who relied on the video lecture capture alone. A Mann-Whitney U test was used for two groups. We used the Mann-Whitney U test because it could be used to compare the students’ overall class ranks within each group. This compares rank order of students in two groups based on whether the student was attending most lectures and had the option of viewing the video, or students who attended fewer than half the lectures and relied primarily on the videos. By examining rank, we extend the analysis in the future since rank eliminates the problem of varying difficulties among courses.


The Mann-Whitney ranked order test yielded a significant difference in class score ranking between the two study groups, w (n1=50, n2=78) = 2821.0, p = 0.048. Those students who attended more lectures were more likely to have a higher rank in the class than the students who attended fewer lectures and relied solely on the video for acquiring lecture material. This can be seen in figure 2.



Mean Rank

Sum of Ranks

Attended most classes:
Mostly viewed video:






Mann-Whitney U


Wilcoxon W




Asymp. Sig (2-tailed)


                             a. Grouping Variable: group
Figure 2 is output from statistical analysis (SPSS) showing significance at p<0.05.

The surveys employed a series of 5-point Likert scales. An average score was also computed based on letter grade in the class. Although data between letter grade groups seen in figure 3 lacked statistical significance between all groups for “how students acquire lecture material” it does demonstrate a stepwise progression in both how students acquire lecture material and how often students attend lectures. Figure 3 does show a significant difference between letter grades in regards to lecture attendance (t=-5.78, p=0.03). That is students who attended more lectures received higher letter grades. Universally, students found the recorded ????lectures helpful or very helpful. Universal indication of student helpfulness is in line with findings of other studies of lecture capture technology (Simpson 2006; Pilarski et al. 2008; Dey et al. 2009).

Figure 3. Students’ responses were grouped by letter grade.

An average score was computed for each letter grade grouping based on a specific question. For “Material acquired in lecture” students were asked how much material they reviewed from attending lectures as opposed to viewing recorded lectures, with 5 being entirely acquiring material in the classroom. “Attendance of lecture” is based on student responses to how often they attend lecture where 5 = attended all lectures and 1 represented attended no lectures. “Helpfulness” is how helpful students found access to the streaming video lectures for any reason.

Conclusions and Significance

It is the hope of the researchers that this study will help the instructors and administrators of this and other courses using video capture better understand how students are using the video capture. Further, it will allow educators to better tailor its continued use to enhance learning for future classes of students.

The results suggest that, for this material, students learn more, and by extension get better grades, if they use the video lecture capture as a supplemental learning tool rather than as a substitute for acquiring material through regular lecture attendance. These data should be presented to students similar to encourage them to use video lecture captures to enhance course performance (rank).

One possible question about these results is what environmental factors might be affecting students while they are viewing the videos? Distraction- rich viewing environments would obviously reduce a learner’s ability to focus on the lecture material. Students attending lectures have a relatively inherently distraction- free environment. This study also did not examine the viewing habits of the learner. That is, we did not ask if students watched portions of the video in each sitting, watched one entire lecture per viewing or watched several videos back to back. The viewing habits of learners could have impacted student learning.

Future Study

This study was designed to act as a pilot study for a more in-depth review of video lecture capture use. In this forthcoming research actual record of student use will also be compared to the online survey to correlate student voluntary responses. Furth this study has allowed for further modification of the survey to better address issues regarding video lecture capture use. Future survey questions will address student usage patterns of the video as well as video viewing environment in an attempt to better understand factors involved in material acquisition.


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About the Authors

Nathan Whitley-Grassi is a PhD Candidate at Walden University, Minneapolis MN Her current position is Faculty Instructional Technologist at Empire State College and Lecturer at Niagara University. Over the last few years her research has focused on student engagement and use of technology in and out of the classroom. She is examining variable levels of student engagement and motivation as it relates to student learning and academic success. email: nwg@niagara.edu

Joan S. Baizer is Assistant/Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University at Buffalo. She began teaching in large physiology courses in 1976. She has seen the technology evolve from chalk and blackboard to overheads, to slide carousels to PowerPoint; from Xeroxed handouts to online materials; from a forest of student tape recorders on a desk in front of ther room to video recording done by the University and available to all students online. Many of these changes were technology-driven, determined by what can we do, rather than educationally driven, how do students learn best?  email: Baizer@buffalo.edu

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