University students who attend interactive seminars in person score better on exams, with some even experiencing a full grade increase, according to groundbreaking research from the University of Bath School of Management.

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The study analyzed a Business Economics module, taken by roughly 200 postgraduate students per year. Researchers examined the relationship between seminar attendance, lecture recordings, and student performance, while also exploring the impact of disability adjustments.

Dr. Rob Branston, Senior Lecturer at the School of Management, said the study aimed to test the widely-held belief in academia that in-person attendance leads to better exam performance than non-attendance or reliance on recorded lectures. The researchers also wanted to examine other factors influencing student performance.

The results were eye-opening: students who attended every seminar during the semester scored 8% higher than those who did not attend. This equates to nearly a full grade difference in performance. The study also found that moderate use of lecture recordings was beneficial, but large-scale use had no significant positive or negative impact.

The researchers believe that the interactive nature of seminars, with lively discussions and contributions from students, is the key to this improved performance. Co-author Dr. Marc Betton said, “It depends on what students bring to the seminar, but that interactive nature could be crucial.”

The study also revealed that students benefit most from a combined learning experience, where they attend in-person seminars and review recorded lectures. Students who rely solely on attendance or video recordings miss out on the advantages offered by this dual approach.

For example, a student named Emma attends all her lectures, takes notes, and later reviews the recordings to clarify certain points. This combined learning experience puts her at an advantage over students who only rely on one method.

Dr. Branston encouraged academics to promote both attendance and the use of lecture recordings, while cautioning against replacing live lectures completely with watching recordings. He also highlighted the importance of giving academics time and training to investigate their own teaching methods.

The research also found no statistically significant difference in performance between students with disability access plans and their peers, suggesting that the university’s measures to enhance equity for students with disabilities are effective. However, Dr. Branston noted that the sample size in this aspect was relatively limited and called for more research in this area.

Additionally, the study found that students from non-English language speaking countries were not at a performance disadvantage, and prior knowledge of a subject did not influence exam performance.

Dr. Betton explained, “This is important and an area that sometimes causes anxiety among students, who might think, ‘Will I be at a disadvantage because I haven’t studied anything like this before?’ It was good to find this was not the case.”

With these insights in mind, universities should consider emphasizing the importance of in-person seminars and the combined use of lecture recordings to enhance student performance and overall learning experience.

Benefits of the Combined Learning System according to the study

Benefits Short Description
Improved Exam PerformanceStudents who attend in-person seminars and review recorded lectures tend to score higher on exams, sometimes by a full grade.
Enhanced EngagementThe interactive nature of in-person seminars encourages lively discussions and contributions, leading to a more immersive learning experience.
Reinforcement of ConceptsBy reviewing lecture recordings after attending in-person seminars, students can clarify and reinforce the concepts they’ve learned.
FlexibilityA combined learning approach allows students to revisit lectures and materials at their own pace, accommodating different learning styles.
Better ComprehensionStudents who participate in both in-person seminars and review recorded lectures often have a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
Adaptability for Students with DisabilitiesThe dual approach can help level the playing field for students with disabilities, as it allows for adjustments to their learning process.
Inclusiveness for Non-English SpeakersNon-English speakers can benefit from the combined learning system, as they can review recorded lectures to ensure better comprehension.
Reduced AnxietyStudents who may be anxious about lacking prior knowledge can gain confidence through the dual approach, as it enables them to catch up at their own pace.

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