Does Podcasting Increase Allied Health Student Performance in Foundation Physiology Classes?

Suzanne L. Munns


Recent technologies, such as podcasts, have expanded the options available to educators on how information is delivered and on how student engagement is fostered. This increase in pedagogical options may be particularly relevant to the teaching of biomedical science to allied health students as these students typically have large variations in their prerequisite discipline knowledge and in their engagement with basic anatomy and physiology. Podcasting has been shown to increase student engagement and satisfaction scores, but few studies have objectively measured the effect of podcasting on student performance. Podcasting was introduced to a cohort of 215 students enrolled in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Sports and Exercise Science degree programs at James Cook University, Australia and assessment performance was compared to the previous year in which podcasting was not available. Analysis revealed that 95% of enrolled students accessed the available podcasts during the teaching period. Clear peaks in podcast access rates occurred prior to assessment pieces, strongly suggesting the use of podcasts for revision purposes. 64% of students believed that the availability of podcasts increased their learning either moderately or greatly, although this perception was not supported by assessment performance, where there was no significant difference between students who accessed podcasts and those that did not. Additionally, there was no significant difference in mean assessment performance between the study cohort of students with access to podcasts and those in the previous enrolment year (without podcasts). This study demonstrated that while podcasting increased student satisfaction, perception of learning and flexibility it did not directly increase grade performance during intra-semester or summative assessment items.

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