About the Project

The Calculus Video Project is an NSF-funded project Investigating Student Learning and Sense-Making from Instructional Calculus Videos (awards DUE #1712312, DUE #1711837 and DUE #1710377).

Calculus is a cornerstone of college-level mathematics programs and is an integral part of science, engineering, and technology programs. Less than half of all college students who intend to pursue a major in STEM fields succeed in doing so, and educational researchers have found that calculus presents a significant hurdle for these students. Over the past few decades, instructors have become increasingly willing to experiment with innovative teaching formats, such as “flipped” classrooms. In the flipped classroom format, students watch instructional videos outside of class to promote a more active learning environment. Despite this increasing popularity, relatively little is known about how students watch and learn from these instructional videos. To help instructors design videos to better promote student learning of mathematics, this project will collect data about how students use, engage with, and learn from calculus videos. Furthermore, this project will investigate the impact that various ways of structuring the video-watching experience has on student learning. In doing so, this project will generate new knowledge about the effectiveness of various implementation methods for instructional videos in supporting students’ productive ways of understanding foundational calculus concepts.

This project contributes to the understanding of how students make sense of and learn calculus from instructional videos. In the proposed three-year study, project team members are adapting ideas from the fields of information systems and organizational studies to investigate:

  • The ways students interact with video lectures, including how they pause, skip, and re-watch portions of the videos;
  • The aspects of the videos students attend to — and report attending to — as they watch;
  • The ways students make sense of and learn from these videos, and how this relates the other aspects described above;
  • How various ways of structuring the video-watching experience, such as providing an outline or pre-watching questions, can influence each of these aspects. We are obtaining data from multiple sources, including student responses to mathematical content questions before and after watching videos, timestamps of students’ interactions with videos (i.e., playing, pausing, and time-shifting videos), student responses to interview questions as they watch videos, eye-tracking data collected as students watch videos. Our analysis will yield knowledge about the ways students interact with and learn from instructional videos. This investigation into various methods of structuring the video-watching experience will contribute to the field’s understanding of how to create and use videos as effective curricular resources. In addition, the project will produce research-based guidelines for creating and effectively using instructional calculus videos. By achieving these goals, the research project has the potential to improve the quality of STEM education and, ultimately, contribute to the development of a globally competitive STEM workforce.