Interactive Video as an Economic Teaching Supplement

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  • Interactive Video as an Economic Teaching SupplementAuthor(s): Edwardo L. Rhodes and Robert P. CervenySource: The Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 325-328Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 28/06/2014 09:56

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  • Innovation in Economic Instruction In this section, the Journal of Economic Education publishes relatively brief articles, notes, and communications dealing with new pedagogical developments, new hardware, new teaching materials, and new or novel ways of treating traditional subject matter. Articles and notes should be helpful to a substantial number of teachers or should have the potential to affect the way in which the subject is presented to students.

    KARL E. CASE, Section Editor

    Interactive Video as an Economic Teaching Supplement

    Edwardo L. Rhodes and Robert P. Cerveny

    Increasing attention has been devoted in the last decade to the definition and analysis of the role of television in the college instructional process. Numerous authors have reported on the video media in the instructional curriculum in economics (e.g., Allison, 1976; Paden and Moyer, 1969; Danielson and Stauffer, 1972; and McConnell, 1968). These studies have dealt almost exclusively with video recording as an alternative to or a substitution for traditional presentation methods, such as classroom lec- tures. The vast majority of these studies have involved instruction at the in- troductory level.

    This study describes a television project in which the objective was to de- velop a set of video production supplements for an upper-level applied mi- croeconomics course. The presentation mode was "interactive viewing" rather than "passive viewing." Past studies generally have found television, when evaluated in terms of performance on skill tests, to be a fair though not superior substitute for more conventional teaching methods (Paden and

    Edwardo L. Rhodes and Robert P. Cerveny are assistant professor and associate professor, respectively, at the State University of New York in Buffalo. This study was supported in part by an Instructional Development Grant from the State University of New York (SUNY) and produced at Buffalo's Educational Communications Center under a grant from the SUNY system for innovative education.

    Fall 1984 325

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  • Moyer, 1969; McConnell, 1968; and Paden, 1976). Interestingly, the first two studies cited found that, regarding student attitudes, the video format as a substitute for live lectures scored significantly below more traditional methods.

    It has been suggested in the literature that a combination of interactive sup- plements might be a viable strategy, especially for covering subject matter above the principles level. For example, Allison (1976) reported on the prelimi- nary development of a core of such tapes for use by students as lecture and reading supplements. The impersonality that students cite as a major drawback of television as a substitute may be less pronounced for a mixed-media supple- ment. Thus, the introduction of student control via an interactive viewing for- mat may contribute to student acceptance of such an approach.


    The justifications for and logic of television as a supplement in an advanced level course are numerous. First, several studies, for example, Gagne (1967), argue that when learning a given body of information, students vary considerably in how they process information. For students who receive and process information best when it is presented in a visual-auditory format, the opportunity afforded by rerunning tapes could result in higher levels of performance and/or a higher level of satisfaction with the course or its presentation style.

    Second, the highly graphic and diagrammatic nature of many upper-level applied economics courses can present special difficulties. Classroom learn- ing often degenerates into an exercise in simultaneous note taking and quick graph and table sketching, with almost no conceptualization or information integration. Thus, an interactive viewing format having freeze frame and re- wind features offers a means for separating these learning tasks into more manageable units. Or again, explaining operations over three-dimensional surfaces may be facilitated by video cartoons with moving elements, thus eliminating many of the visualization difficulties of presentation.

    Finally, many courses place a very high premium on the rapid acquisition of a large number of quantitative and substantive economic concepts, forms, and tools. In spite of course prerequisites, there is wide variance in student abilities to acquire and use this assortment of tools. Much of this variance is due to difficulties with particular subsets of material or tech- niques. Workshops and other out-of-class contacts are the usual vehicles for addressing this problem. Videotape can serve as an intermediate step be- tween not seeking assistance and face-to-face meetings with the professor.


    Six, 40 to 60 minute, 3 inch video cassette tapes were produced, covering the following: a general introduction to the methods of economic analysis,


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  • the calculus of microeconomic analysis, elasticity and market demand theory, production theory, cost theory and applications, and pricing theory under perfect competition. In the production of these tapes, on-camera viewing of the instructor was limited to no more than 10 to 12 minutes of each tape. Even this short on-camera time was broken up into segments of one minute or less. Thus, the "talking head" format was minimized, with most of the audio presentation in voice-over form. Full-screen graphics, cartoons, tables, and problem-solving demonstrations were the main visuals. To increase the concentration of information within the time limit, all presentations were fully scripted.

    Initial production costs for materials, video hardware, and personnel re- quirements were high-estimated to be approximately $2,500 per tape. In addition, the capital expense of establishing a long-term dedicated viewing facility was sizeable. Although the potential long-run benefits of this format seemed to be substantial, no attempt was made in this study to weigh the benefits against the high initial cost. Funding restrictions limited the content covered in the tapes to only a third of those areas considered essential for mastery of the applied economics topics.


    A small sample of 22 user and 42 non-user managerial economics students was used to explore the effectiveness of the mixed-media approach. With

    respect to economic understanding, the two groups did about equally well. The measured differences, although in the anticipated direction, were not statistically significant (see Appendix). With respect to students' attitudes toward the instruction, the user group did not exhibit the frequently reported negative attitude toward television instruction. This finding, although possibly the result of self-selection, may interest and encourage members of the profession.

    APPENDIX Performance and Attitudinal Measures*

    Users Non-users N = 22 N = 42

    Skills pretest 86.4 87.8 Examination 1 83.1 79.8 Final examination 32.2 33.0 Pre-factor scores on acceptability of videotapes 12.0 11.7

    Post-factor scores 12.3** 11.2 "* Notes:

    Skills and Examination I could range from 0 to 1(X) points. Final examination could range from 0 to 60 points. Expected and Actual Grades were scored as A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, D = 4, and F = 5.

    "** Significant at the 10 percent level as measured by the student's I test for significance of the difference between means.

    Fall 1984 327

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    1. A more elaborate description of the study and a detailed statistical analysis are available from the authors.


    Allison, Elizabeth K., "The Use of Video in Economic Education," Journal of Economic Education, Fall 1976, 8, pp.27-35.

    Danielson, A. L. and Stauffer, A. J., "A Television Experiment in College Economics," Jour- nal of Economic Education, Spring 1972, 3, pp. 101-5.

    Gagne, Robert M., ed., Learning and Individual Differences, Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Books, Inc., 1967.

    McConnell, Campbell R., "An Experiment with Television in the Elementary Course," American Economic Review, May 1968, 58, pp. 469-82.

    Paden, Donald W., "Television as a Means for Research in Teaching Techniques," and "Television as an Instrument of Instruction," in K. G. Lumsden, ed., New Developments in The Teaching of Economics, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967.

    ", "The Relative Effectiveness of Three Methods of Teaching Principles of Economics," Journal of Economic Education, Fall 1969, 1, pp. 33-45.

    Submitted: July 1983


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    Article Contentsp. 325p. 326p. 327p. 328

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 261-335Volume Information [pp. 333 - 335]Front Matter [pp. 296 - 324]From the Editor's DeskIn This IssueContent Articles in EconomicsEconomic Education in Our Schools: A Renewed Mission [pp. 261 - 264]Contemporary Radical Economics [pp. 265 - 274]

    Research in Economic EducationA Cost Function Function for Computer-Assisted Programmed Instruction [pp. 275 - 281]The Effects of Inservice Training on Participating Teachers and Students in Their Economics Classes [pp. 282 - 295]The Relative Effectiveness of Economics Instruction for Teachers and College Students [pp. 297 - 308]

    The Teaching of EconomicsCost and Effectiveness Considerations in the Use of Computer-Assisted Instruction in Economics [pp. 309 - 323]

    Innovation in Economic InstructionInteractive Video as an Economic Teaching Supplement [pp. 325 - 328]The Use of Interactive Video in Teaching Microeconomics: A Note [pp. 329 - 330]

    Professional InformationWorks from Other Disciplines [pp. 331 - 332]

    Back Matter


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