During the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, many colleges and universities were forced to hold classes virtually. A new study at the University of Minnesota found students who attended large classes live via Zoom (synchronously) did better on exams than students who later watched recorded lectures (asynchronously), particularly when sex and ethnicity were considered. Physiology educator-researchers will present their findings this week at the American Physiological Society (APS) Institute on Teaching and Learning in Madison, Wisconsin.
This study investigated how synchronous versus asynchronous attendance of human physiology lectures affected the exam scores of 200 students. The findings suggest female students attending synchronously saw significant increases, ranging from 4.10–6.16 points on every exam. That is equivalent to nearly a full letter grade (B+ to A-) higher on exam scores.
Non-white students who attended synchronously saw even larger gains in exam scores, ranging from 2.7–7.43 points. That translates to nearly a full letter grade higher for non-white students attending synchronously compared to non-white students attending asynchronously.
These trends held on the final exam for female students attending asynchronously throughout the entire semester. They scored on average 7.80 points lower than those who attended synchronously. And non-white students attending asynchronously scored on average 9.76 points lower than non-white students attending synchronously.
Researchers compiled a chart showing how asynchronous students averaged lower scores across four exams and one final exam than synchronous students.
|Coefficient (average points drop)||p-value|
Other key takeaways from this study:
- Women attended synchronous lectures more frequently than men.
- Attending synchronous lectures made more of a difference to non-white students than white students.