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  1. Abstract

    Online educational videos have the potential to enhance undergraduate biology learning, for example by showcasing contemporary scientific research and providing content coverage. Here, we describe the integration of nine videos into a large‐enrollment (n = 356) introductory evolution and ecology course via weekly homework assignments. We predicted that videos that feature research stories from contemporary scientists could reinforce topics introduced in lecture and provide students with novel insights into the nature of scientific research. Using qualitative analysis of open‐ended written feedback from the students on each video assigned throughout the term (n = 133–229 responses per video) and on end‐of‐quarter evaluations (n = 243), we identified common categories of student perspectives. All videos received more positive than negative comments and all videos received comments indicating that students found them intellectually and emotionally stimulating, accessible, and relevant to course content. Additionally, all videos also received comments indicating some students found them intellectually unstimulating, though these comments were generally far less numerous than positive comments. Students responded positively to videos that incorporated at least one of the following: documentary‐style filming, very clear links to course content (especially hands‐on activities completed by the students), relevance to recent world events, clarity on difficult topics, and/or charismatic narrators or species. We discuss opportunities and challenges for the use of online educational videos in teaching ecology and evolution, and we provide guidelines instructors can use to integrate them into their courses.

     
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