James Thomas's specialist subjects

About James Thomas

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and a BSc (Hons) degree in Biomedical Science. I gained experience in research, proofreading and academic writing  at university and while working at College as a teacher.  I am enthusiastic about my subject and have a lot of experience in  Biomedical Science and related subjects.  My subject knowledge is sound which is translated into my academic writing.  I also have experience in teaching and writing education articles as well as a lot of experience in research and academic writing outside my specialty. This includes experience in nursing, health and social care, and public health which I have gained through private tutoring and as a freelance writer.  Being a lecturer and a freelance writer, I know what is expected for  essays, reports, literature reviews or dissertations

The use of videos as a teaching and learning tool in teaching Biology

This component 3 assessment is separated into five major parts: the first part will give an analysis of the research findings. The second section will review the literature in component two and how it relates to the analysis of my research findings. The third part will be a critical assessment of the theory and will look at students’ evaluation in relation to my preferred area. The last part will look at my findings and come to a conclusion.
My main research questions in this study are: What does traditional pedagogic practice in the teaching of Biology tell us about the pedagogy of the subject? How might the use of videos/ digital technology extend and advance the teaching of Biology? Might the use of videos support more interactive and dialogic learning? Is video technology important?

This study complies with the ethical guidelines set by the British Educational Research Association (BERA) for using students as subjects. Fourteen students from College x studying ‘Access to Higher Education: Human Biology’ were used in this study. It is apparent that this study represented a small portion of the student population which is a limitation of this study.

Analysis of Research Findings
The students were asked to answer the six questions about the lesson on the feedback forms (shown in the Appendix). The response from students for each question were as follows:
Seventy-eight per cent indicated that the lesson was easy to understand because of the use of the video as a teaching and learning tool. Seven per cent pointed out that the lesson was not easy to understand because of the use of the video. Fifteen per cent were neutral.

Seventy-one per cent indicated that the use of the video held their attention while learning. Eight per cent indicated that the use of the video did not hold their attention and twenty-one percent were neutral.

Seventy-nine per cent preferred a video to a teacher talking; fourteen per cent preferred the teacher giving the lesson and eight per cent were neutral.

Fifty per cent pointed out that the lesson was interesting because of the use of the video as a teaching and learning tool; twenty-one per cent indicated that the video did not make the lesson interesting and twenty-nine percent were neutral.

Sixty-four per cent indicated that they currently used technology for research and experiments, the blackboard for assignments and course documents, and the Motorola xoom for note taking and internet access. Thirty-six percent of students did not answer this question.
The last question was an open question (what did you like about the use of the video in the class and what did you not like?) to which there was a mixed response. The responses included: there was better understanding because of the visual feedback; they could understand what diseases could do to you when you are ill; it was a good lesson; the video was fine but they did not understand the first part of it; it gave them more knowledge of the disease and how it is treated; it reinforced the learning in the classroom; it explained better; it made it easier to learn; the good, brief information on the video allowed better absorption of information and made things clearer.

Literature review
In this part of assignment, findings of my research are compared with the literature review in component two assessments.
Traditional methods used to teach Biology include the teacher talking and writing on the white board. This might not meet the needs of different learners. The emergence of new Information and Learning Technology (ILT) like videos in teaching Biology has revolutionised the way Biology is presented (Huang, 1991; Leonard, 1992; Attwell and Hughes, 2010; Beetham et al., 2009; JISC, 2009). This has made the subject interesting and easy to understand with subsequent improved achievement (Huang, 1991; Erwin and Rieppi, 1999; Attwell and Hughes, 2010; Wilson and Jennings, 2000; McCormack and Ross, 2010; BECTA, 2009). The findings in my research are supported by the findings reported in this literature review. Seventy-eight per cent of the subjects indicated that the lesson was easy to understand because of the use of the video as a teaching and learning tool and fifty per cent indicated that the lesson was interesting because of the use of the video (see the analysis of the research findings given above).

It is clear that the use of ILT such as videos as a teaching and learning tool offers many benefits to students and teachers (Fill and Otterwill, 2006; Schacter & Fagnano, 1999; Underwood et al., 2008, 2009a; U.S. Department of Education, 2009). The use of videos in teaching Biology has made the subject real or relevant to everyday life which is stimulating to students, and this has led to deeper understanding of the subject (JISC, 2009, p.29). The use of videos in delivering the lesson is a motivating teaching tool (Angelone, 2010). This is reflected in my research findings as seventy-eight per cent pointed out that they preferred the use of videos to the teacher talking. Obviously, the teacher’s communication is also important, so blended learning strategies could be considered to extend and advance the delivery of the subject.

There are a lot of complicated topics in the Biology curriculum. Videos can be used to teach difficult topics, like mitosis, so that students can more easily understand the topic (Baggott and Wright; 1996; Lents and Cifuentes, 2009). This is shown in my research findings as students indicated that videos used in Biology classes held their attention. Difficult topics like metabolism can be made interesting and easier to understand by the use of videos in teaching (Carey, 2010). Students can effectively learn complicated lessons using video recordings of lectures downloaded on the internet as an alternative to attending classes (Lents and Cifuentes, 2009). This is confirmed in my research findings as sixty-four per cent of students indicated that they used digital technology and the virtual learning environment for research and experiments.

Students’ different learning preferences can be addressed by the use of videos as ILT in teaching Biology (Coffield et al., 2004). This is reflected in my research findings in that different learning styles were met; seventy-eight per cent of students have indicated that the lesson was easy to understand because of the use of videos as an ILT. Teaching in the traditional classroom is inadequate and video technology in teaching Biology can meet the students’ different learning needs (Roschelle et al., 2000).

Effective teaching practice involves the use technology like videos as part of the lesson (JISC, 2009, p.10). This is shown in my research findings as students pointed out that the lesson was good. The findings imply that a successful lesson should include ILT to support and enhance learning. Blended learning strategies in Biology (innovative teaching methods) that include traditional teaching methods and new information technologies like videos in teaching are far more effective than using traditional methods alone ( Pereira et al., 2007). Better learning outcomes can be achieved by the use of videos as ILT than the traditional face-to-face presentation of the material by a teacher (BECTA, 2009). Traditional teaching methods in Biology are being changed for digital technology like video use (Nageswari et al., 2004). The use of videos in teaching Biology supports interactive and dialogic teaching (Woulters et al., 2007).

The use of videos in teaching Biology may erect barriers for students with learning disabilities who may not be comfortable with the use of technology and who will not be able to access videos on the internet or in the virtual learning environment (Littlefield, 2007). This is highlighted in my research findings whereby seven per cent of students indicated that the lesson was not easy to understand because of the use of the video, eight per cent pointed out that the video did not hold their attention, fourteen per cent preferred the teacher giving the lesson, twenty-one per cent indicated that the lesson was not interesting because of the use of the video and thirty-six per cent of the students did not answer the question regarding whether they used technology for learning. Some students also indicated in the open question that they were not comfortable with the use of videos as a teaching and learning tool and that they were switched off when the video was playing. This indicates that there were a small number of students who had negative views on the use of videos as a teaching and learning tool. Nevertheless, the benefits of using videos to teach Biology outweigh the pitfalls (Littlefield, 2007).

Critical analysis
The use of videos in teaching offers enormous benefits to students and teachers. Students are able to learn the subject from someone other than the teacher, and the technology provides a visual component to the topic making the subject more interesting and easier to understand compared to traditional teaching methods (Hall et al., 1989). However videos as a teaching and learning tool do not replace the need for a teacher (JISC, 2009).

Students, when they are passive learners, are not able to concentrate for a long time (Wilson and Korn, 2007, p.86). A strategy to overcome this problem is to change the way the class is presented; instead of the teacher giving the lesson, a video is played. I have always used videos in my teaching to enhance learning. For instance, when I am introducing complicated topics and when delivering lessons, I always choose YouTube videos to make the topic clearer, relevant and easy for my students to understand.

The use of technology is known to yield good results from students. When I was teaching BTEC Firsts Applied Science (level 2), the topic was ‘Transmitting electricity from power stations to our homes’ and I had prepared a video from YouTube which explained the topic in real terms. The students were motivated by the video as a teaching and learning tool and they asked questions which showed that they had been stimulated by the video. Some students were able to link the topic to previous topics and acknowledged the relevance of science in our society. The YouTube videos used as ILT should be short and should include interesting content that captures the students’ attention.
Obviously, there are some disadvantages of using videos as a teaching and learning tool, including distance learning. Students with learning difficulties and who are not able to access videos on the internet or VLE will experience barriers to learning. Furthermore, some students indicated that they were switched off when the video was playing and were not comfortable with this medium as a teaching and learning tool. Nevertheless, the use of videos as a teaching and learning tool outweighs the disadvantages.

Student evaluation
During my placement at College, I used video technology as an additional teaching and learning tool. I have always engaged students in the learning process and each time I used video technology, I asked students for their valuable feedback.

The feedback from students always indicated that they were positive about the use of videos as a teaching and learning tool. However, some students had no access to technology at home and were not comfortable with the use of videos in learning. I have taken the valuable feedback of students on board and will use more PowerPoint presentations to support those who do not have access to technology at home.

Conclusions and Findings
In conclusion, this research has found that teaching and learning can be extended and advanced by the use of videos as a teaching and learning tool. The majority of students are positive about the use of videos as a teaching and learning tool. Blended learning strategies are more effective than using traditional methods alone.

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Baggott, L. and Wright, B. (1996) The use of interactive video in teaching about cell division. Journal of Biological Education, 30(1), pp. 57-66.

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Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: A systematic and critical review. www.LSRC.ac.uk: Learning and Skills Research Centre. Retrieved January 15, 2008: <http://www.lsda.org.uk/files/PDF/1543.pdf>.

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Erwin, T.D. (1999) Comparing Multimedia and Traditional Approaches in Undergraduate Psychology Classes. Teaching of Psychology, 26(1), pp. 58-61

Fill, K., and Ottewill, R. (2006) Sink or swim: taking advantage of developments in video streaming. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 43(4), pp.397-408.

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Nageswari, K.S., Malhotra, A.S., Kapoor, N. and Kaur, G. (2004) Pedagogical effectiveness of innovative teaching methods initiated at the Department of Physiology, Government Medical College, Chandigarh. American Physiology Society, 28(2), pp. 51-58.

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