Raising Student Understanding, with Threshold Concept Videos in American Specialisms – a Digital Partners Project

Every Saturday - Arthur B. Davies
Every Saturday – Arthur B. Davies
Public Domain image from wikimedia.org

A Digital Partners Action Research Project


This project involves the production of a series of short (2-3 minute) threshold concept videos for the final year English Module, American Specialisms, over the course of the 2017/18 academic year. This module is split into two halves, each with multiple sections – American Regionalism with Stephanie Palmer and American Nuclear Literature Daniel Cordle.

If successful, these videos will prepare students for each section of the module by introducing and clarifying key concepts, terminology and references in these areas of literature, and serving as valuable reference materials when preparing for assessment.

Project Team

Daniel Cordle

Daniel Cordle, Associate Professor, English Culture and Media


Stephanie Palmer

Stephanie Palmer, Senior Lecturer, English Culture and Media


Phil Pierce

Phillip Pierce, Learning Technologist, Learning and Teaching Support Unit


The Plan

An initial video will be produced to introduce the theme of the “nuclear uncanny”. This video will act as a prototype for following videos. A period of approximately 2 weeks will be given for students on the module to watch it; we will then ask for feedback using a Forms survey, so that any issues raised about the videos themselves, or the way they are used, can be addressed.

With this feedback in mind, the remaining videos will then be produced and published from December 2017 up to the start of the exam period in May. After students have been given sufficient time to view all the videos, we will use a second Forms survey to seek further feedback on the remaining videos. By comparing the results of both sets of feedback, we should be able to identify areas where the project has succeeded, and areas where further improvements can be made in the future.

Video production will be done with Office Mix, which is available to NTU staff in PowerPoint. This offers a familiar environment in which a range of media can be gathered, arranged and then converted into video. By allowing users to add audio recordings, images and video footage to a PowerPoint presentation, Office Mix has already enabled the LTSU to produce help videos for staff and students within the School, and has proven to be a simple but powerful tool for quick video production.

Outcomes and Impact

The videos produced should enhance the student experience on the American Specialisms module by providing quick and accessible entry points to each section of the module. They will also be used by Daniel and Stephanie to promote their research within and beyond NTU, and have the potential to be used as open educational resources.

Experience gained from this project will be valuable in enabling the LTSU to promote the use and production of video for learning and teaching purposes within the School of Arts and Humanities. It may also provide a template for partnership between the LTSU and academic staff for the production of learning and teaching materials, particularly (where appropriate) staff development in the use of Office Mix.


Further blog post updates will be made about this project as it progresses, including a final summary of the project in May 2018.


Phillip Pierce
Learning Technologist
Primary lead for EMC and HLG
phillip.pierce@ntu.ac.uk ext: 83897 Clifton MAE013


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