Collaboration, Contextualisation and Communication Using New Media: Introducing Podcasting into an Undergraduate Chemistry Class

Emma K. Bartle, Nancy Longnecker, Mark Pegrum


This paper describes the introduction of a podcasting task into an undergraduate chemistry unit. By foregrounding student collaboration, contextualisation of content, and the use of new media, it was designed to promote a deep approach to the learning of content, as well as enhancing science communication skills, and generally improving motivation.

Students from this large (n=352) chemistry class worked in groups of three to create a podcast explaining an assigned topic, before evaluating classmates’ podcasts. Many groups displayed considerable skill and creativity in communicating their messages. Student feedback was collected via an anonymous survey, using both Likert scale questions and open questions, and via comments on discussion threads in the university learning management system.

Student comments indicate that most considered this assignment a positive and motivating experience. We suggest that some deep learning occurred, based on students’ perceptions of the podcasting task. Students also developed and practised teamwork and science communication skills, both important graduate attributes. They completed the assignment with minimal need for technical tuition on the part of the unit coordinator or demonstrators. While further research is necessary to determine the effect on learning of content, these results encourage use of similar assignments in large, introductory science classes.

Full Text: