Student Analysis of Biotechnology Videos

In their responses to Video Evaluation Questionnaires (VEQ) distributed following a lecture and video presentation on three separate topics, six Master's Degree candidates elucidated the strengths and weaknesses of each and, in so doing, highlighted potential areas of improvement. The videos were on Fluorescence Microscopy, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Pharmacogenomics and Whole Exome Sequencing both produced by the AAAS Technical Webinar series and sponsored by Illumina and Life Technologies, respectively.

Quantitative Data

The quantitative survey results revealed that students generally found the video presentations to be of visual high quality and effective in providing introductory explanations of the use of pharmacogenetic markers in clinical treatment, exome sequencing, and fluorescence microscopy. Although five out of five respondents indicated that Andro Inc.'s sponsorship of Using Pharmacogenetic Markers in Clinical Treatment influenced their opinion of the presentation, only two out of five reported that Life Technologies' sponsorship of the Exome Sequencing in Today's Lab: Sifting the Paradigm in Translational Research similarly influenced their opinion of the presentation. Consequently, it remains unclear to what degree respondents' opinions of the corporate sponsorship underlying each video presentation influenced the ratings given regarding the quality of video visuals and the value of the presentation relative to a lecture on the topic by the course teaching staff.

Concerning speaker presentations, students generally found staff lectures easy-to-understand as evidenced by the mean scores of 9.4, 8.8, and 9.83 out of 10 associated with the lectures given on pharmacogenetic markers, whole exome sequencing, and fluorescence microscopy respectively.

Qualitative Insights

In the Video Evaluation Questionnaire for Exome Sequencing in Today's Lab: Shifting the Paradigm in Translational and Clinical Research, question three asked, "What would improve the speaker's presentations?" Respondents suggested that lecturers: a.) begin with a basic overview of or introduction to the topic for those students completely unfamiliar with exome sequencing; b.) conduct the actual experiments, showcase the equipment, or demonstrate the principles being discussed; and c.) thoroughly explain the methods used to perform exome sequencing.

Conversely, in response to question five of the Video Evaluation Questionnaire for Introduction to Fluorescence Microscopy, ("Was this video useful to you in practice? That is, when you went to the microscope, did the information guide you in performing the microscopy?"), all respondents agreed that the video was useful to them in practice. Two students specifically stated that the video was like a "beginner's video" in that it provided a good introduction to fluorescence microscopy. Only one respondent offered any critique at all, writing that guidance during the microscopy would solidify what was learned in the video. Respondent responses to question 7 of the same VEQ ("Was this video useful to you in practice? That is, when you went to the microscope, did the information guide you in performing the microscopy?") echoed similar sentiments, namely that the video "was a tremendous help in understanding the basics of fluorescence microscopy" and, as such, should be viewed before lab sessions and staff lectures.

In summary, our analysis of student responses to the Video Evaluation Questionnaires has illustrated the complementary relationship that exists between video presentations and staff lectures. Whereas video presentations feature high quality visuals and communicate key information essential to a basic understanding of a given topic, staff lecturers often assume that students possess at least a rudimentary knowledge of said topic and, as a result, delve into greater detail than students may be equipped to understand. Furthermore, staff lecturers may physically demonstrate a new procedure, provide alternate explanations for a particularly difficult concept, and answer questions as video presentations as a form of media cannot. Consequently, video presentations should precede staff lectures and lab sessions in order to provide students with a solid, progressively more comprehensive understanding of new phenomena and procedures.