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The Effectiveness of “Pencasts” as an Instructional Medium

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Digital Technologies and Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1452.1 - 22.1452.19



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Paper Authors


James Herold University of California, Riverside

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James earned his B.S. in Computer Science at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona in 2004. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the University of California, Riverside.

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Thomas Stahovich University of California, Riverside

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Dr. Stahovich received his B.S in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley in 1988. He received his S.M. and Ph.D. from MIT in 1990 and 1995 respectively. He conducted his doctoral research at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. After serving as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, Dr. Stahovich joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at UC, Riverside in 2003 where he is currently a Professor and Chair. His research interests include pen-based computing, educational technology, design automation, and design rationale management.

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Han-lung Lin University of California, Riverside

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Han-lung Lin has received his Master degree at the University of Electro-communications in Japan in 2005.
He is currently a Master student in computer science at University of California, Riverside.

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Robert C. Calfee University of California, Riverside

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Graduate School of Education

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The Effectiveness of “Pencasts” as an Instructional MediumA pencast is a type of video presentation in which recorded digital ink and audio are replayed insynchronization. To create a pencast, a special digital “Smartpen” is used to record handwrittencontent with voice narration. For example, an instructor can use a Smartpen to write the solutionto a sample problem while explaining each step. When a student views the resulting pencast, thepen strokes and audio are displayed like a movie, with the explanation synchronized to therendering of the strokes.“Pencasts” are becoming a popular instructional tool, but their educational effectiveness has notbeen formally studied. Thus, we present a research study aimed at comparing the educationaleffectiveness of pencasts to that of traditional instructional media, specifically, printeddocuments. The study involved two sessions and two treatments within each session. Eachsession included a pretest problem, a tutorial, and a posttest problem. In one treatment thetutorial was provided as a pencast, while in the other the tutorial was a traditional printeddocument with content identical to that of the pencast. Within each treatment group, theproblems used for pretest and posttest were alternated to control for order effects. Likewise, thestudents who received the pencast in the first session were given the traditional document in thesecond, and vice versa. The study included about 65 participants and was conducted in thecontext of a ten-week undergraduate Statics course. The problems in the first session concernedwedge friction, while those in the second concerned belt friction. Students completed the pre-and posttests using digital pens, enabling us to record and examine the solution process. We willreport performance gains from pre- to posttest for the different treatment conditions, examiningerror patterns and solution time. We will also report results of a survey of students’ preferencesfor pencasts vs. traditional printed instructional materials.

Herold, J., & Stahovich, T., & Lin, H., & Calfee, R. C. (2011, June), The Effectiveness of “Pencasts” as an Instructional Medium Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18518

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