Jacob Gerner Hariri, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen


Power Point to the People: Does Downloading Slides Before Lectures Improve Student Learning?

The project takes an experimental approach to examining the effect on student learning from having access to slides before the lecture. In the educational literature, note-taking is argued to serves two purposes. The first purpose is to retain points from a lecture for later review (storage); the second purpose is to personally process and note, which facilitates recall (encoding). While student lecture notes improve the latter, personal student notes serve the latter purpose better. Since power point slides are often only skeletal notes, in principle they potentially combine the merits of lecture - and student notes. This expectation notwithstanding, it is this author’s experience that lecturers are often hesitant to upload slides before the lecture. Students, on the other hand, prefer to have access to the slides beforehand. These discrepancies immediately motivate the study.

The study finds no difference in student learning , when students are tested immediately after the class. There does seem to be a substantial but statistically insignificant improvement in student performance, when slides were available prior to lectures and the test is delayed one week. Both of these findings are in line with what previous, non-experimental studies have found.