Does the availability of classroom recordings impact student attendance?
There is a common concern that the availability of lecture recordings will negatively impact student attendance at lectures (e.g. Gosper et al, 2010). The research around lecture capture in HE paints a much more nuanced picture of the issues around recording availability and attendance.
Student views on face-to-face sessions are encouraging. Students value engaging live lectures and appreciate recordings as a learning resource and recap tool. Students provide a range of reasons why they might miss a session, showing that the discussion around attendance is not as binary as it can seem. For lecturers, student uses of classroom capture might offer an opportunity to revisit pedagogic practice. For example, engaging sessions with active learning moments, provide a unique student experience not possible through watching a recording.
By focusing on the areas of student attendance and active learning in more detail, we provide some recommendations around how to encourage attendance and ensure recordings are being used in the most efficient and valuable way by students.
Reasons for non-attendance
Appreciating why students choose not to attend live lectures can inform our practice. Landscape reviews and conversations with students at the University of Reading show that reasons for student non-attendance are varied. Reasons students give for non-attendance are:
- Social issues
- Issues around participation
- Rising costs of fuel and transport
- Work commitments
- Family or caring commitments
- Day and time of lectures
- Long commute time
- Coursework deadlines approaching
- Illness and fears around changing Covid situations
“I prefer going to my lectures and trying to learn in-person. If there is something I haven’t been able to understand well the first time, I refer to the recording.” Undergraduate student – School of Law
Students value in-person classes
Studies show that students appreciate the benefits of attending engaging face-to-face sessions (Nordmann et al, 2018). They report that in-person classes:
- foster class cohesion
- contribute to a sense of belonging
- encourage positive dynamics with peers
- encourage good rapport with academics
- provide opportunities for discussion
- improve students’ interpersonal and communication skills,
- offer the opportunity to clarify something with the lecturer ‘in the moment’
Recordings provide a valuable supplementary resource
Students see session recordings as a valuable study resource, rather than a substitute for attending their classes. Research around student perceptions of classroom capture show that students appreciate access to recordings for a number of reasons:
More focus and engagement in face-to-face sessions – Knowing there will be a recording available, students can focus on engaging with the session. They can revisit their notes alongside the recording afterwards.
A focussed resource for students post-session – Students can concentrate on the sections of the recoding which they need to revisit.
They can spark questions, ideas and discussions after the main session has taken place – when used in combination with other learning activities for reflection.
Recordings can fill the gap of a missed session. Students can catch-up in their own time, giving them the confidence to attend the next session.
“I found it useful that I could rely on the recordings to fill in the gaps or catch up on notes if couldn’t make the lesson.” Undergraduate student – Accounting & Finance
Set expectations with your students. Explain what the recordings are for and how they can get the most out of them. For example:
- Recordings are a supplementary resource (they can work through them at their own pace, revise for exams, etc.)
- Students are not captured on video – this may relieve any anxiety around attendance.
- You can pause during recording if needed. For example during group discussions, or content of a sensitive nature.
- Signpost students to the Learning Capture Student Essential page for tips and links to study advice around learning capture.
Explain to students which of their sessions will and will not be recorded. Module roadmaps and weekly plans work well to communicate this to students. Not all sessions, or all parts of a session will lend themselves to recording. For example, you may want to stop recording during a discussion or Q&A. Being clear with students about what is and isn’t recorded can help alleviate anxieties.
Introduce more active learning (e.g. peer discussions, Q&A, brainstorming, quizzes, etc.) into lectures to increase engagement. Students are more likely to attend if they can enjoy a dynamic student-centred experience, and appreciated the difference between a live session and a recording. Embedding good pedagogy helps remove any equivalence between live engaging sessions and a recording.
Monitor attendance versus video viewing stats to identify patterns. This will help you identify reasons behind attendance patterns, so you can make changes if possible. It can also identify individual or certain groups of students who miss sessions regularly, allowing you to support them to improve their attendance and make the most of the available resources.
Ask for students’ feedback on how they use session recordings. If there is a lack of attendance, ask students why this is. This may help you adjust session recordings or modify face-to-face sessions according to your students’ needs, and increase attendance, or offer alternative ways to engage with the learning to support students who are unable to attend.