Constructivist learning theory postulates the active creation of content by students encourages higher levels of retention and understanding. Phonecasting, a process involving use of a telephone to record an audio message subsequently shared publicly on the World Wide Web, is a potential constructivist use of technology for assessment currently underutilized by university faculty. The primary goal of this exploratory study was to determine whether academic achievement differs between students taught in an introductory, undergraduate health course requiring the creation of lecture summary phonecasts by students, and similar students not required to create phonecasts. Little academic research has been published to date on the impact of phonecasting in the classroom.
The dependent variable in the study was defined as final student grades in the health course and the independent variable as the nominal variable of summary lecture phonecasting. Pre-existing differences in student achievement were controlled through the use of a covariate (students’ entering composite ACT scores) in an Analysis of Covariance test. The researcher used an ex post facto quantitative study and utilized a quasi-experimental, posttest-only with nonequivalent groups research design. The proposed research sample for this comparative study had 100 students in the treatment group and 257 students in the control group. Results were analyzed to determine if a significant difference in academic achievement existed between student groups in the study when differences in academic achievement were controlled through the use of a covariate.
The researcher did not find statistically significant differences in student grades between those taught in a classroom setting utilizing summary lecture phonecasting assigments and those taught in a traditional setting. When student ACT math scores were used as a covariate instead of ACT composite scores, however, statistical results were very close to statistical significance. Analysis of an instructor end-of-course student survey along with an interview with the instructor suggest multiple ways phonecasting projects and studies could be improved in the future. Summary lecture phonecasting by students is a promising pedagogic intervention and an assignment option which warrants further investigation.