Pedagogy Improvement in Face-to-face and Online Teaching Environments
Irena Vodenska
, Lou Chitkushev
and Leo Burstein
Administrative Sciences Department, Metropolitan College, Boston University,
808 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, U.S.A.
Computer Science Department, Metropolitan College, Boston University, Boston, MA, U.S.A
Department of Educational Research and Technology, Metropolitan College, Boston University, Boston, MA, U.S.A
Keywords: Face-to-face and Online Programs, Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching, Technology Enhanced
Learning, Distance Education.
Abstract: Technology-based finance education is designed to fully engage students during lectures and individual
study times in order to increase their learning efficiency. Students are immersed in a new teaching
environment where the emphasis is on achieving high knowledge retention rate by synchronously presenting
the material through non-sequential links of learning objects such as graphics, multimedia files, and links to
external documents. While studying, students have possibilities to refer to earlier material when learning
more complex ideas in the later part of a lecture, as well as to relate to the material that may be following
the topics being introduced. The integrative technology-enhanced approach to learning provides students
with a possibility to maintain the overall view of the material, while absorbing detailed explanations of the
individual study components. We have conducted a preliminary pilot program testing this approach, and
found, based on student feedback, that the integrative technology-enhanced approach to teaching improves
student overall learning experience in face-to-face as well as in online courses. Moreover, course material
organization and instructor presentation of the material contribute significantly to the overall student
satisfaction while technology per se is not a statistically significant factor for overall course experience.
A major challenge in teaching advanced finance
courses today is to fully engage students and to
increase the efficiency rate of learning important
financial concepts and risk management tools. Just
few years ago the world financial system was on the
brink of collapse creating a fundamental need for
finance graduates to thoroughly understand the
intricacies of complex financial and risk
management tools. At the time when we have seen
some of the most outrageous government rescue
interventions in the corporate world (Fender and
Gyntelberg, 2008), we strive to equip our students to
approach financial risk management meticulously
and methodically, in order to be prepared to face the
challenges of today’s financial industry.
There is a need to constantly upgrade and update
not only the course material to incorporate novel
concepts and risk management techniques, but also
to create a learning environment that introduces
effective approaches and utilize technological
advancements to facilitate meaningful teaching of
complex financial models, decision-making tools,
and structured financial products.
One of the goals of advanced finance education
is to teach students how to utilize existing financial
concepts and tools and to prepare graduates to have
analytical and flexible open minds to effectively
grasp new, innovative financial products and utilize
them appropriately in their workplace environments.
Sequential educational style has historically been
traditional and most common method of presenting
lecture material (Saunders, 2001). It is based on
presentation of different concepts to be learned in a
serial mode, one following the other, without
stressing the correlation and causality between
various topics. This is similar to a short-term
memory process, where relationship is established
only between consecutive topics. Despite the
Vodenska I., Chitkushev L. and Burstein L..
Teaching Environments.
DOI: 10.5220/0003933001380143
In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Computer Supported Education (CSEDU-2012), pages 138-143
ISBN: 978-989-8565-07-5
2012 SCITEPRESS (Science and Technology Publications, Lda.)
benefits of this widely adopted teaching style, it also
has number of drawbacks, especially for complex,
highly correlated relational subject matters, such as
One of the most significant shortcomings of
sequential teaching methods is a reduced knowledge
retention rate of novel concepts acquired in a lecture
format (Butler, 1992). Longer-term memory is
essential when students are building knowledge
based on material introduced in a finance lecture.
Hence, it is important to refer to earlier material
when learning more complex ideas in the later part
of the lecture. Equally important is to be able to
relate to the material that follows the topics being
introduced. In the sequential teaching environment
students often lose the thread of the presentation.
That can reduce the benefits of the lecture to a point
when students stop accepting and processing
To address this limitation of sequential
classroom teaching techniques, we introduce
comprehensive computer-aided approach to
teaching, where the complete lecture is presented
interactively allowing students to learn the material
through various components that are linked in a non-
sequential way. This approach provides the students
with a possibility to maintain the overall view of the
material while the instructor explains the lecture
material building blocks in detail.
The integrative technology-enhanced approach
matches well the teaching style of the instructor with
different learning preferences of individual students.
This methodology provides virtual step-by-step
instruction for a subgroup of students who prefer
learning the material by hearing and seeing the
concepts in a sequence. At the same time it gives an
opportunity to students who prefer the non-
sequential learning style to connect differently the
presented material objects. This approach allows
instructors to reach out and successfully teach much
broader population of students. Since some students
are passive and some are active learners (Rodrigues,
2004), they can choose the type of computer-aided
modules that correspond to their learning style. We
believe that giving students an opportunity to non-
sequentially navigate through the material will
provide immediate benefit to their understanding of
the presented concepts and may detect and correct
promptly certain misconceptions with instructor’s
assistance and feedback. Students will also be able
to study the material outside the classroom, at their
own pace, and to solidify their knowledge on their
own after the lecture. This approach will present a
possibility for students to benefit from both,
immediate and delayed knowledge transfer to obtain
solid conceptual understanding of the material by
developing improved retention skills over time
(Mathan and Koedinger, 2005).
In finance courses it is extremely important to
understand all the building blocks of risk
management or the decision-making process. If
students do not completely understand an important
theory or if they learn a model incorrectly, this
introduces confusion and potentially erroneous
understanding of the overall material. Needless to
say, this inaccurate understanding can trickle down
to future, more complex concepts and can lead to
incorrect solutions of multifaceted problems.
We tested the integrated approach to learning
within both, face-to-face and online formats, and
demonstrated that this methodology can be modified
to fit both of these different environments. For
example, in online classes, we preserve the
traditional component of teaching by using tablet
computers in addition to already prepared integrative
lecture material (Hoppe et al., 1999, Turban and
Muhlhauser, 2007). In face-to-face classes, we
utilize technology to bring the integrative approach
to teaching in the classroom.
Within the integrative technology-enhanced
approach to teaching, students are given an
opportunity to focus on individual teaching
components while learning sophisticated financial
models and obtaining a thorough understanding of
multifaceted economics concepts.
In Figure 1 we illustrate how the integrative
approach to teaching corresponds better to real
world corporate and economic systems, by showing
the difference between sequential and interconnected
network-like flow of links among learning objects.
2.1 Teaching with Non-sequentially
Linked Learning Modules
Instructors use multiple screens and enhanced
presentation tools to link the learning components
delivered non-sequentially within a lecture. The
objects are connected in a network where directional
links exist to successfully navigate through the
required material. This teaching approach keeps
student attention to multiple lecture
Real world system relations compared to
sequential and integrative teaching approaches
a) c)
Figure 1: a) shows a real world system where links exist
among all the nodes in the graph; b) illustrates example of
sequential instruction where certain links (A-C, A-D, and
B-D) are missing; c) represents a comprehensive
integrative approach to delivering complex financial
concept teaching material. This approach corresponds
closely to real life systems, where there is a high level of
connectedness among various system components.
components simultaneously instead of focusing on
only one at a time. Figure 2 shows an example of
using multiple screens presented simultaneously to
teach option valuation using the Binomial Tree
Although, the integrated technology-enhanced
approach to teaching brings benefits to students,
based on our experience, it also creates additional
burden to instructors, who experience approximately
20-25% increase in their workload. This overload is
a result of the need to create the video or audio
objects, to link the lecture objects appropriately, and
to learn how to utilize new technologies.
Introducing cutting edge integrative technology-
enhanced teaching approach keeps the students
abreast with new developments in the financial
industry, especially in the fast-paced advances in the
area of financial risk management.
The non-sequentially linked lecture components
could represent 1) embedded lecture notes 2)
hyperlinks to additional learning sources, 3) links to
outside applications such as PowerPoint, Excel, or
Access, or 4) pointers to pre-recorded multimedia
objects either developed by the instructor or
accessed on the Web.
The integrative teaching model can work well in
large or small groups or in laboratory or practical
classes where students need to deliver computational
results based on a set of learning objects by
planning, developing, and managing their own
learning (Bourner and Flowers, 1999).
The comprehensive computer-aided teaching
approach is becoming more attractive to students
because it relates better to the advanced multimedia
technologies they use in their daily lives. Students
nowadays are accustomed to multitasking and rapid
switching between various information-providing
devices, such as smart phones and iPads. They are
used to browsing between applications like email
and Internet browsers, music and video downloads,
various social media sites, or getting access to online
shopping, travel booking, and making restaurant
reservations. This trend is expected to continue,
which could make the integrative approach to
learning a preferred teaching model.
2.2 Data Analysis and Methodology
We tested the integrated technology-enhanced
approach to teaching, by conducting a pilot study of
overall student experience for three finance courses,
delivered in online and face-to-face formats in 2011.
We also performed a comparative analysis of the
courses included in the pilot study and previously
delivered courses from fall 2009 to fall 2011. During
this period we studied student feedback for 15
graduate finance courses with total enrolment of 645
students. Out of the 15 courses, 9 were face-to-face
and 6 were delivered in an online format. The online
courses had 464 students enrolled, while the face-to-
face courses had 181 students. To evaluate student
satisfaction rating, we surveyed students about their
overall course experience. The survey questions
were organized in 4 groups evaluating the course,
the instructor, the technology, and teaching
assistants if applicable. The questions were rated on
a 5-level Likert scale from 1-negative/strongly
disagree to 5-positive/strongly agree. We selected 3
survey questions 1) course material organization; 2)
instructor’s ability to present material; and 3) use of
technology to conduct our analysis. We selected
these questions because they closely relate to the
course delivery style. The survey response rate was
41% for online courses and 90% for face-to-face
courses or total of 350 students. We performed
regression analysis for 95% confidence level by
designating the Overall course experience as a
dependent variable, and Course material
organization, Instructor’s ability to present course
material, and Use of technology as dependent
variables. We demonstrate in Figure 3 that Course
material organization is statistically significant
factor with a p-value of 0.00007 < 0.05 and it is an
important determinant of overall course satisfaction
Figure 2: Example of multiple-screen lectrure delivery format which allows students to see the overall lecture material at all
times with a possibility to zoom in and out of specific screens.
Figure 3: Overall course experience vs. Course material
organization for fall 2009 to fall 2011. (Statistically
significant for p < 0.05 at 95% confidence level).
with R-square of 0.7121.
In addition, Figure 4 shows that Instructor’s
ability to present course material also offers
significant explanatory power to the Overall student
course satisfaction with p-value of 0.000006 and R-
square of 0.8010.
While the Course material organization and
Instructor’s ability to present material are
statistically important factors for Overall course
experience, in Figure 5 we show that Use of
technology is not statistically significant factor for
Figure 4: Overall course experience vs. Instructor’s ability
to present material for fall 2009 to fall 2011. (Statistically
significant for p < 0.05 at 95% confidence level).
Overall course satisfaction. The coefficient of
determination R-square for this regression is 0.5042,
while the p-value is 0.1138.
Similar results were obtained by Zlateva et al.,
2011 for the statistical analysis of computer
information system courses, contrary to the findings
by Volery and Lord 2000, Soong et al., 2001, and
Sun et al., 2008, where technology was presented as
one of the critical success factors in online
education. We argue in this paper that the
technology is an extremely important factor that
facilitates creation of novel approaches to present
y=1.0329x‐ 0.1492
Figure 5: Overall course experience vs. Use of technology
for fall 2009 to fall 2011. (Not statistically significant for
p > 0.05 at 95% confidence level).
course material and significantly enhances instructor
effectiveness in presenting course material;
however, if we only have great technology, and do
not utilize it creatively, the technology per se will
not be the determining factor for overall course
In addition to the regression analysis of Likert
scale rated questions, we also analysed the
descriptive feedback from students. Table 1 shows
samples of student written feedback from the pilot
courses, pointing to the different teaching style,
material organization, and course structure as
positive course developments.
Table 1: Student feedback.
a) “One of the strongest aspects of the course was
the simplicity in the layout of each week. It was
easy to follow the structure, the lecture notes
b) “Very organized class and learned a lot of
c) “ThisisthemostorganizedclassIhavehadinthe
d) “I thought it wasan excellent course andI would
e) Thishasbeenanexcellentcourse
f) “I thought this was the best course so far.
Professor did an outstanding job in teaching us
the different aspects of finance. This course has
helped me to get a good perspective on the
markets, economic environment, systemic risk,
g) “Thank you for all that you taught us. Your
teaching style is unique along with your detailed
explanation, which made it easy for us to learn
We argue that statements from students such as
very organized course”, “instructor teaching style
is uniqueor “the approach made it easy for us to
learn the material” that appear in the pilot courses
and are absent from other course feedback, testify
that the new integrated technology-enhanced
approach to teaching is effective and makes a
difference in student learning. In addition, in Figure
6 we plot the ratings for Course material
organization for different terms including pilot
courses (circled), and found that the pilot courses
feedback is persistently positive.
Figure 6: Course material organization ratings for fall
2009 to fall 2011 including the pilot courses (circled)
where the integrative technology-enhanced approach to
teaching was adopted.
The integrative technology-enhanced education
essentially increases the dimension of the space in
which the lecture material is being presented, going
from a flat sequential two-dimensional system to a
three-dimensional space where connections between
spatially and temporally distant components is
possible. This methodology is based on lecture
delivery where the entire material is presented as a
poster in the beginning of the lecture. There are
various techniques that can be used to implement
this approach such as multiple screens with links
between the learning objects or hyperlinks to
multimedia files or relevant documents. This
teaching methodology enhances students’
educational experience. While actively participating
in the lecture, students can point out objects in the
overall material and ask for further explanations or
clarifications of the lecture building blocks. We use
interactive object focus tools to emphasize the
relevant components that need further discussion
without moving backward or forward through the
material in order to search for a concept or a
Besides having many benefits, the
comprehensive technology-enhanced education has
shortfalls as well. One of the major drawbacks of
computer-aided education is excessive reliance on
y=0.8612x‐ 0.0649
technology. Any technical problem can contribute to
major frustration and derailment in the class. To
overcome this weakness, and improve the
technology reliability, it is important to secure
redundant resources that can be activated in case of
technical difficulties to enable seamless continuation
of the class.
We performed a pilot study introducing the
integrative technology-enhanced approach and
found that Course material organization and Ability
of the instructor to deliver the lecture effectively are
statistically significant factors for overall course
satisfaction, while interestingly enough Use of
technology per se was not a statistically significant
factor for overall course satisfaction.
The initial feedback from students has been very
positive in regards to the benefits that the integrative
technology-enhanced approach to teaching brings
into the online and face-to-face educational
programs. Overall, the use of advanced technologies
to create integrative big picture delivery of the
course has helped students understand better the
complex risk management and financial decision
making for the global financial industry.
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