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STANFORD -- At-risk high school students may learn more when their lectures are presented with tutored videotapes than when they are live, a Stanford University study suggests.

Tutored video instruction recently proved successful in teaching educationally at-risk high school students from migrant-worker families. The technique involves taping classroom lectures and presenting them to small groups of students guided by a tutor. The tutor can stop the videotape at any point to address questions or replay sections of particular interest.

"This is especially important for migrant students who are not yet fully proficient in English," said Amado Padilla, a professor in Stanford's School of Education.

Added Rob Pannoni, who coordinated the migrant high school student project: "The students get more individualized help and attention from the tutor and their peers. The informal atmosphere also encourages more participation and involvement than a lecture-style course."

It combines "the positive features of lectures with small group discussions," said James Gibbons, dean of the Stanford School of Engineering, who almost two decades ago pioneered the technique to deliver university courses to adult students in their workplaces.

Gibbons, Padilla and Pannoni teamed up with Jose Chavez from the Santa Clara County Office of Education to test the effectiveness of tutored video instruction with high school students in that county's Migrant Education Program during 1990-91.

In the study, two groups of migrant students took a course designed to teach basic computer-literacy skills. Both groups had a total of 20 hours of class time.

The first group of 45 high school juniors and seniors was taught in the traditional classroom setting during the Summer Institute for Leadership and Computer Awareness, which brings outstanding students in the Santa Clara County Migrant Education Program to the Stanford campus. The course lectures were videotaped and slightly edited.

A second group of 49 teenagers, who were not outstanding students, saw the videotaped lectures in groups of four to six guided by a bilingual tutor. They met after school or on weekends in computer labs in or near their home schools.

In tests at the end of the course, there was no statistically significant difference in the two groups' scores. This was despite the fact that those taking the tutored video version of the course had lower grade point averages, lower pre-course scores, and lower levels of English proficiency.

Those findings support early experiments by Gibbons in 1973 with employees of companies that could not receive live broadcasts of Stanford engineering courses via the Stanford Instructional Television Network.

The results, reported in a 1977 Science magazine article, "Tutored Videotape Instruction: A New Use of Electronics Media in Education," were that the students who took the tutored videotape course off campus outperformed their on-campus counterparts, even though the average of the admission qualification scores for the students of the tutored videotape course was substantially lower than that of the on- campus students.

The School of Engineering currently teaches engineering courses to 250 off-campus students in 16 companies.



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