The Impact of Online or F2F Lecture Choice on Student Achievement and Engagement in a Large Lecture-Based Science Course: Closing the Gap


  • Cheryl A. Murphy University of Arkansas
  • John C. Stewart West Virginia University



Video, lecture, achievement, engagement


Blended learning options vary and universities are exploring an assortment of instructional combinations, some involving video lectures as a replacement for face-to-face (f2f) lectures. This methodological study investigates the impact of the provision of lecture choice (online or f2f) on overall student achievement and course engagement. This research uses a within-group design to obtain baseline data on a single set of physics students (n=168), and investigates the impact of providing a lecture viewing choice (online, f2f) mid-semester on student achievement (tests, homework, and standardized conceptual evaluation scores), and course engagement (student lecture viewing, homework submissions, bonus project submissions, and note taking behaviors). The study reveals that the type of lecture does not serve to significantly impact overall student achievement or engagement. However, although recorded and f2f lectures demonstrate an overall educationally equivalent impact, students who elect a high level of recorded lecture use were significantly lower performing and less engaged before the option to watch recorded lectures was introduced and largely continued to be so after the option was introduced, but there was evidence of a reduction in achievement and engagement differences after the option is introduced. Therefore, results of this study suggest weaker performing students self-select higher levels of recorded lecture use, and the use of these video lectures may assist this specific group of students in closing the gap between themselves and students who were initially higher performing and more engaged.

Author Biographies

Cheryl A. Murphy, University of Arkansas

Associate Professor and Program Coordinator Educational Technology Curriculum and Instruction

John C. Stewart, West Virginia University

Associate Professor Physics


Albert, J. (2004). The effectiveness of innovative approaches to CSI: Comparing opinion to outcome. Proceedings of the 27th Australasian Conference on Computer science, 26, 151-157.

Artino Jr, A. R. (2010). Online or face-to-face learning? Exploring the personal factors that predict students' choice of instructional format. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(4), 272-276. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.07.005

Bacro, T. R., Gebregziabher, M., & Fitzharris, T. P. (2010). Evaluation of a lecture recording system in a medical curriculum. Anatomical Sciences Education, 3(6), 300-308. doi:10.1002/ase.183

Barlow, J., & Fleischer, S. (2011). Student absenteeism: Whose responsibility? Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(3), 227-237. doi:10.1080/14703297.2011.593700

Bati, A. H., Mandiracioglu, A., Orgun, F., & Govsa, F. (2013). Why do students miss lectures? A study of lecture attendance amongst students of health science. Nurse Education Today, 33(6), 596-601. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2012.07.010

Behr, A. L. (1988). Exploring the lecture method: An empirical study. Studies in Higher Education, 13, 189-200. doi:10.1080/03075078812331377866

Black, L. W. (2005). Dialogue in the lecture hall: Teacher–student communication and students’ perceptions of their learning. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 6(1), 31-40. doi: 10.1080/17459430500262125

Bligh, D. A. (1998). What's the use of lectures? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Borman, M. (2010). Web-Based Lecture Technologies (WBLT): Contributing to learning and control. Research and Development in Higher Education: Reshaping Higher Education, 33, 93-103. doi:10.1007/s10734-009-9292-z

Brecht, H. (2012). Learning from online video lectures. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 11(1), 227-250.

Budig, J. E. (1991). Improving student success and retention: Attendance notification system. Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research, San Francisco, California.

Burgan, M. (2006). In defense of lecturing. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 38(6), 30-34. doi:10.3200/CHNG.38.6.30-34

Chang, S. (2007). Academic perceptions of the use of Lectopia: A University of Melbourne example. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings from ascilite. Singapore. Retrieved from

Clay, T.& Breslow, L. (2006). Why students don't attend class. MIT Faculty Newsletter XVIII (4). Retrieved from

Cooper, J. L., & Robinson, P. (2000). The argument for making large classes seem small. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2000(81), 5-16. doi:10.1002/tl.8101

Credé, M., Roch, S. G., & Kieszczynka, U. M. (2010). Class attendance in college a meta-analytic review of the relationship of class attendance with grades and student characteristics. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 272-295. doi:10.3102/0034654310362998

Danielson, J., Preast, V., Bender, H., & Hassall, L. (2014). Is the effectiveness of lecture capture related to teaching approach or content type? Computers & Education, 72, 121-131. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.10.016

Desalegn, A. A., Berhan, A., & Berhan, Y. (2014). Absenteeism among medical and health science undergraduate students at Hawassa University, Ethiopia. BMC Medical Education, 14(1), 81. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-81

Dey, E. L., Burn, H. E., & Gerdes, D. (2009). Bringing the classroom to the web: Effects of using new technologies to capture and deliver lectures. Research in Higher Education, 50, 377–393. doi:10.1007/s11162-009-9124-0

Ealy, J. B. (2013). Development and implementation of a first-semester hybrid organic chemistry course: Yielding advantages for educators and students. Journal of Chemical Education, 90(3), 303-307. doi:10.1021/ed200858p

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201319030. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111

Giannakos, M. N., Chorianopoulos, K., Ronchetti, M., Szegedi, P., & Teasley, S. D. (2014). Video-based learning and open online courses. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 9(1). doi:10.3991/ijet.v9i1.3354

Gorissen, P., Van Bruggen, J., & Jochems, W. (2012). Students and recorded lectures: Survey on current use and demands for higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 20(3). doi:10.3402/rlt.v20i0.17299

Gosper, M., Green, D., McNeill, M., Phillips, R., Preston, G. & Woo, K. (2008). The impact of web-based lecture technologies on current and future practices in learning and teaching. Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Retrieved from

Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Phillips, R., Preston, G., Woo, K. & Green, D. (2010). Web-based lecture technologies and learning and teaching: A study of change in four Australian universities. ALT-J: Research in Learning and Technology, 18(3), 251-263. doi:10.1080/09687769.2010.529111

Grabe, M., Christopherson, K., & Douglas, J. (2005). Providing introductory psychology students access to online lecture notes: The relationship of note use to performance and class attendance. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 33(3), 295-308. doi:10.2190/G5RF-DMWG-WV1G-TMGG

Gump, S. (2005). The cost of cutting class: Attendance as a predictor of success. College Teaching, 53(1), p. 21–26. doi:10.3200/CTCH.53.1.21-26

Gysbers, V., Johnston, J., Hancock, D., & Denyer, G. (2011). Why do students still bother coming to lectures, when everything is available online? International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (formerly CAL-laborate International), 19(2), 20-36.

Hahn, E. (2012). Video lectures help enhance online information literacy course. Reference Services Review, 40(1), 49-60. doi:10.1108/00907321211203621

Harmon, O. R., Alpert, W. T., Lambrinos, J. (2014). Testing the effect of hybrid lecture delivery on learning outcomes. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 112-121. Retrieved from

Hove, M. & Corcoran, K. (2008). If you post it, will they come? Lecture availability in introductory psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 35(2), 91-95. doi:10.1080/00986280802004560

Jenne, F. H. (1973). Attendance and student proficiency change in a health science class. Journal of School Health, 43(2), 125-126.

Kinlaw, C. R., Dunlap, L. L., & D’Angelo, J. A. (2012). Relations between faculty use of online academic resources and student class attendance. Computers & Education, 59(2), 167-172. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.12.028

Kuh, G. D. (2001). The National Survey of Student Engagement: Conceptual framework and overview of psychometric properties. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, 1-26.

Kuh, G. D., Cruce, T. M., Shoup, R., Kinzie, J., & Gonyea, R. M. (2008). Unmasking the effects of student engagement on first-year college grades and persistence. The Journal of Higher Education, 79(5), 540-563.

Lauer, T., Muller, R., & Trahasch, S. (2004, August). Learning with lecture recordings: Key issues for end-users. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, 741-743. 10.1109/ICALT.2004.1357642

Laird, T. F. N., & Kuh, G. D. (2005). Student experiences with information technology and their relationship to other aspects of student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46(2), 211-233. doi:10.1007/s11162-004-1600-y

Lust, G., Elen, J., & Clarebout, G. (2012). Adopting webcasts over time: The influence of perceptions and attitudes. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 24(1), 40-57. doi:10.1007/s12528-011-9052-9

Macfarlane, B. (2013). The surveillance of learning: a critical analysis of university attendance policies. Higher Education Quarterly, 67(4), 358-373. doi:10.1111/hequ.12016

Maloney D., O’Kuma T., Heiggelke, C., & Van Heuvelen A. (2001). Surveying students’ conceptual knowledge of electricity and magnetism. Physics Education Research, American Journal of Physics Supplement, 69(7), S12-S23. doi:10.1119/1.1371296

Marburger, D. R. (2006). Does mandatory attendance improve student performance? The Journal of Economic Education, 37(2), 148-155. doi:10.3200/JECE.37.2.145-155

Massingham, P. & Herrington, T. (2006). Does attendance matter? An examination of student attitudes, participation, performance and attendance. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 3(2), 82-103. Retrieved from

McCredden, J. & Baldock, T. (2009). More than one pathway to success: Lecture attendance, Lectopia viewing and exam performance in large engineering classes. 20th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference, 986-991.

McElroy, J.& Blount, Y. (2006). You, me and iLecture: Who’s learning? Whose technology? Proceedings from ascilite. Singapore. Retrieved from

McGarr, O. (2009). A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(3), 309-321.

McKinlay, N. (2007). The vanishing student trick — the trouble with recording lectures. Paper presented at the 6th Teaching Matters Conference Showcasing Innovation, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Retrieved from

McKinney, D., Dyck, J. L., & Luber, E. S. (2009). iTunes University and the classroom: Can podcasts replace professors? Computers & Education, 52(3), 617-623. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.11.004

Moore, R. (2003). Attendance and performance: How important is it for students to attend class? Journal of College Science Teaching, 32(6), 367-71.

Nist, S. L. (1995). Making the grade in undergraduate biology courses: Factors that distinguish high and low achievers. Retrieved from

Owston, R., Lupshenyuk, D., & Wideman, H. (2011). Lecture capture in large undergraduate classes: Student perceptions and academic performance. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(4), 262-268. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.05.006

Phillips, R., Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Woo, K., Preston, G. & Green, D. (2007). Staff and student perspectives on web-based lecture technologies: Insights into the great divide. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings from ascilite. Singapore.

Reisberg, L. (2000). 10% of students may spend too much time online. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46(41), A43.

Romer, D. (1993). Do students go to class? Should they? The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 167-174. doi:10.1257/jep.7.3.167

Simpson, N. (2006). Asynchronous access to conventional course delivery: A pilot project. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(4), 527–537. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00534.x

Slem, C. M. (1983). Relationship between classroom absenteeism and stress risk/buffer factors, depressogenic attributional style, depression and classroom academic performance. Retrieved from

Solomon, D. J., Ferenchick, G. S., Laird-Fick, H. S., & Kavanaugh, K. (2004). A randomized trial comparing digital and live lecture formats. BMC Medical Education, 4, 27–32. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-4-27

Steiner, S. D., & Hyman, M. R. (2010). Improving the student experience: Allowing students enrolled in a required course to select online or face-to-face instruction. Marketing Education Review, 20(1), 29-34. doi:10.2753/MER1052-8008200105

Stone, A. A., Bachrach, C. A., Jobe, J. B., Kurtzman, H. S., & Cain, V. S. (Eds.). (1999). The science of self-report: Implications for research and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Traphagan, T., Kucsera, J. & Kishi, K. (2010) Impact of class lecture webcasting on attendance and learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58, 19-37.

Van Blerkom, M. L. (1992). Class attendance in undergraduate courses. The Journal of psychology, 126(5), 487-494.

Van Blerkom, M. L. (1996). Academic perseverance, class attendance, and performance in the college classroom.

von Konsky, B. R., Ivins, J., & Gribble, S. J. (2009). Lecture attendance and web based lecture technologies: A comparison of student perceptions and usage patterns. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(4), 581-595.

Yudko, E., Hirokawa, R., & Chi, R. (2008). Attitudes, beliefs and attendance in a hybrid course. Computers & Education, 50, 1217–1227. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.11.005

Zhang, D., Zhou, L., Briggs, R. O., & Nunamaker Jr, J. F. (2006). Instructional video in e-learning: Assessing the impact of interactive video on learning effectiveness. Information & Management, 43(1), 15-27. doi:10.1016/






Blended and Experiential Learning