This study investigates the relationship between the use of classroom recordings and student achievement in critical foreign languages. Recording classrooms has become popular in recent years with the advent of digital media and inexpensive devices to play such files. It is now easy to create audio recordings of face-to-face classes and post them online. To date, however, there has been little empirical study of the role that these recordings play in students' achievement.
The study involved instructors who were each teaching two identical sections of a Chinese course, and asked them to use a portable audio recorder to capture all of the discussion in both sections. Only the Treatment section's students had the recordings posted online, making the other section a Control group.
The research questions for this investigation were: (1a) If classroom recordings are made available to students, do they use them? (1b) If so, what are their reasons for using the recordings? (2a) Do students perceive that the availability of classroom recordings leads to increased achievement? (2b) Are the perceived benefits of the recordings related to reasons for using them? (2c) What is the relationship between the availability of classroom recordings and benefits of courses perceived by students? (3a) Does the availability of classroom recordings improve student achievement, as measured by student grades from courses with and without access to recordings? (3b) What is the relationship between students' use of the recordings and their actual achievement in their courses?
Students' grades were examined and their perceptions of their achievement were surveyed. The data were analyzed with respect to students' reported use of the recordings, reasons for using them and perceived benefits from using the recordings. Comparisons were made between the Treatment and Control group students.
Findings revealed that a majority of the students in the Treatment sections used the recordings. There was consensus on some of the reasons for using the recordings and some of the benefits of using them. Further analysis of the data showed that the availability of recordings had a significant positive impact on students' grades in two of the three classes studied.