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Five minutes of face time

Davison, Brian; Rivera, Errol; Fotheringham, Julia


Errol Rivera

Julia Fotheringham


Despite the disadvantages of large class sizes identified by Cuseo [1], it is no longer unusual for university class sizes to far exceed 100 students. According to Cuseo, students in large classes typically receive less frequent, poorer quality interaction and feedback from the tutor and show reduced levels of active learning. Blended learning can compensate to some extent for the more rarefied interpersonal contact [2]. However, it is important to recognise the limitations of blended learning and to consider alternative ways of using the precious face-to-face time to improve the students' learning experience. This paper reports on an attempt to improve engagement and performance on a second-year relational database class with around 170 students by re-establishing the personal contact between tutor and students. Attendance levels in the class were low, and performance on the final examination was poor as a consequence. Two specific interventions were introduced into the face-to-face sessions in 2014/15. The first was a dedicated exam practice slot during each weekly lecture, and the second was a schedule of one-to-one discussions with students during the practical class. Thus students regularly received at least a few minutes of individual attention as well as personal feedback on their exam practice work. The interventions were successful in the sense that the exam results showed a significant improvement via an independent t-test assuming equal variances (t(279) = -5.07, p < 0.01). Follow-up interviews were conducted with a sample of students in the trimester following the class to determine the relative value of the two measures. Our main question is whether five minutes of face time can make a difference to a student's learning experience.


Davison, B., Rivera, E., & Fotheringham, J. (2015). Five minutes of face time. In EDULEARN15 Proceedings (6951-6957)

Conference Name 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Conference Location Barcelona, Spain
Start Date Jul 6, 2015
End Date Jul 8, 2015
Acceptance Date May 10, 2015
Publication Date Jul 6, 2015
Deposit Date Apr 15, 2021
Pages 6951-6957
Series ISSN 2340-1117
Book Title EDULEARN15 Proceedings
ISBN 978-84-606-8243-1
Keywords large class size, exam performance, one-to-one contact, student engagement
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