It All Adds Up: Jessica Anfinson Experiences Success With Supplemental Instructional Videos — Faculty Highlight

By Dani Moritz-Long

Most mathematics scholars aren’t known for their performances on screen. Oddly enough, Professor of Mathematics Jessica Anfinson is known (and appreciated) for just that.

Inspired by the book “Naked Teaching,” which explores the concept of flipping the classroom to leverage technology while sustaining meaningful face-to-face interactions, Jessica has implemented online videos in her teaching toolbox.

“I decided to try filming online videos as a way to improve my content delivery for my future mixed-mode and online pre-calculus classes,” Jessica explained. “I started with simple ones in my office and then moved on to professional videos made at Valencia’s production studios when I heard about the great resources we have here at West Campus from a colleague, [Professor of Mathematics] Char Mortimer. After getting such positive feedback/results in my face-to-face classes while filming them last semester, I decided to start making them for all of my classes.”

The videos are embedded in PowerPoint presentations that are posted in Canvas for Jessica’s courses. She uses them for online courses, as well as supplemental materials for her students in traditional, face-to-face classes.

To produce them, she works with Video Productions to overlay a video recording on a PowerPoint presentation. While recording, she takes notes with a stylus so that the final product is a live recording of her completing math problems, with video footage of her teaching in the bottom left-hand corner (see example screenshot below).

“Students have shared that they enjoy having their actual professor appear in the videos and that I’m going through the same problems that I cover in class,” she explained.

Continuing, she noted, “I try to segment the videos so that they’re not too long (two to four examples per video) after a brief intro, and I include a brief summary at the end. I also encourage students to actively use the links provided in posted notes to help visualize graphs using sites like www.desmos.com. I challenge them to pause the video to try examples by themselves before watching my solution. Every video has the tag line, remember, math is not a spectator sport, and I encourage them to practice and master skills before they move on.”

The results of have been phenomenal, increasing pass rates from approximately 55% to 70% in courses that introduced the video content. Jessica explains this can be attributed to the videos fostering increased student engagement and comfort with course content.

“Classroom questions became deeper and more meaningful,” Jessica said, “and the general anxiety level in a fast-paced course was noticeably lower as students knew that they could watch videos before or after class if further clarification was needed. I found myself stopping less in class to repeat myself also, as students knew they could pause and replay me at home.”

Jessica’s findings were solidified when she surveyed students about the videos. The Qualtrics survey, which combined Likert scale and free form responses, suggested that students enjoyed the individualized content delivery experience (meaning students can focus on and replay concepts as needed) and the ability to use the videos as a supplemental study tool. Furthermore, most students agreed that a course with instructional videos is better than courses without video content, and the video helped them gain confidence in their practice outside of the classroom.

When asked how students prefer to use the videos, most students indicated that they preferred to use the videos for exam review and the least amount of students indicated they prefer to use the videos to learn on their own and skip class. These findings suggest that the videos have helped Jessica meet her goal of implementing technological tools without undermining the importance of face-to-face classroom experiences.

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at  The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.

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