An evaluation of desktop video conferencing for one-to-one tutorial support in mathematics
The growth in Flexible and Distributed Learning will, it is believed, lead to a need for a more innovative and flexible approach to the way support is offered to students. This study which was conducted with students at a Further Education College looks at the effectiveness of using Desktop Video Conferencing (DVC) to provide support to students studying mathematics at a number of different levels. The research design adopted the concept of triangulation with three different approaches being used. The first strand of the methodology was the collection of statistical data for all students re-sitting GCSE mathematics to develop a model to predict the learning outcome for students. The second strand was the extensive use of questionnaires and interviews with students receiving learning support. The final strand was the application of discourse analysis to recordings of both face-toface and DVe tutorials in order that a comparison could be made between them. To do this it was necessary to develop a research tool to record both verbal and non-verbal dialogue. The main conclusion from the study was that there was no identifiable difference in learning outcome between tutorials conducted face-to-face and those conducted using DVe. A number of positive advantages of using DVe emerged during the course of the study. These included the fact that most students preferred tutorials using DVC as they found the environment less threatening than when sitting next to a tutor. Other advantages resulted from the use of the electronic Whiteboard, these included being able to give students quicker feedback, if appropriate.