MAASTRICHT. Last year the Faculty of Law introduced short video fragments as an additional educational tool. Now, it has been demonstrated that this helps to improve students’ insight into basic law matter. First-year students who watched all fragments also have significantly better grades than other students.
“We advise students to watch the videos before each tutorial group and lecture, so they already have some knowledge of the basics”, says initiator Aalt Willem Heringa, professor of Comparative Constitutional and Administrative Law. “As a consequence, we don’t have to deal with it as such in the lectures. For example, instead of talking about the basic setup of the German electoral system, we can go into depth.”
For students of the Comparative Government course (first-year European Law School, English track) some 15 video fragments, with self-tests with true/false questions, are available on EleUM. Videos have also been created for students of the Dutch courses Staats- en Bestuursrecht (second year) and Inleiding Staats- en Bestuursrecht (first year), lasting approximately 15 minutes each.
A lot of time was invested in making the videos – which consist of a PowerPoint presentation and a short lecture – but according to Heringa, “since the concepts discussed are not likely to change frequently, the videos may be used for several years”.
The evaluation questionnaire shows that 79 percent of the first-year and 64 percent of the second-year students think their insight has improved. “Looking at the grades of the final exams, we can conclude that first-year students who watched all videos have significantly better grades than students who watched fewer videos. For second-year students, this relationship was less significant. But maybe this is because first-years are more in need of basic knowledge.” But could it simply be that the students who watched all videos are just very diligent or good students anyway? “It’s possible, but I have the feeling that we’re offering something extra, an impetus to work harder.”