Teaching & Learning


A UCL lecturer finds a simple way to improve student satisfaction

21 April 2016

Giving students the chance to watch lecture slides at their own pace from home can transform their learning, a senior lecturer told UCL's Teaching and Learning Conference on Tuesday

Dr Freeman

Dr Richard Freeman, who lectures in research methods at UCL Institute of Education, said Flipped Learning -  where students watch recorded video lectures wherever and whenever is best for them so that time with their lecturers can be spent exploring any areas of difficulty - had helped raise student satisfaction.

Dr Freeman used the technique to teach statistics to postgraduate taught psychology students. "They have traditionally found statistics challenging, boring and it even makes some of them scared," he said. "So I decided to teach them in a different way."

Students prepare for Dr Freeman's class by watching his lecture slides with his recorded commentary. Dr Freeman simply uses PowerPoint's voice recording function. "It's not hard to do. You record your voice over your PowerPoint slides and then turn the whole thing into a movie which can be uploaded to Sharepoint, Google Drive or even YouTube. The link can then be posted on Moodle," he said.

Dr Freeman said that students had reported that the technique put them in control. It meant they could learn at their own speed, stopping and even rewinding the lecture. They could watch the films when and where they wanted - one watched them on a long plane flight home - and that he was not confined to having single lectures of 50 minutes for each topic. Students with dyslexia and those whose first language is not English, found the technique especially useful as they were able to pause the recording so they could look up words and concepts.

"This is not about less teaching, but about better teaching. It's not a panacea, but it is a useful teaching technique. Often we force students to sit there and listen to someone talk and that's not always productive - or much fun."

The session was one of more than 100 at UCL's annual Teaching and Learning Conference on Tuesday. 

The conference, now in its fourth year, hosted more than 600 participants - including a record number of students.

At one point the highest trending event in London on Twitter and had tweets from, among other countries, Brazil, Turkey and the US.

Participants could choose from presentations from topics as diverse as race and student-teacher relations, how to prevent plagiarism and how to help postgraduate prepare for the workplace. A record 22 of the presentations were from students - signalling a shift in culture towards more of a partnership between staff and students than in the past.

The conference was organised by UCL's Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching.