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Learners’ confusion and cognitive load while learning from interactive videos

Research team: Dr. Amael Arguel, Prof. Lori Lockyer, Dr. Mariya Pachman, Prof. Ottmar Lipp
CIC specialist: Dr. Kevin Chai

The ARC Science of Learning Research Centre, the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University and the School of Psychology at Curtin University have developed a study aiming at studying learning from instructional videos. The success of online video-sharing platforms such as YouTube has allowed the use of interactive videos for learning on a variety of topics. The benefits of videos on learning are significant, especially for learning dynamic contents such as procedures. Previous studies have shown that providing learners with the ability to control the pace of videos could efficiently reduce the unwanted cognitive load caused by the transience of the information. In addition, providing interactive controls is also likely to promote engagement and hence to be beneficial for learning.

The aim of our study is to explore the effects of interactive videos on the levels of cognitive load in relation to learners’ confusion. In a laboratory setting, 51 university students were tested on a tasks that involved learning from instructional videos. The videos were presented under two conditions: (a) with interactive video controls, and (b) without interactive controls, like watching a television program. Before each video, a short text describing a breakdown scenario about the device was given and participants were asked to provide an explanation about the most likely cause of the problem Before and after each video the self-reported level of confusion and the level of cognitive load is measured. The solutions given before and after the videos were used to assess learning performance. A Python and JavaScript Web application was developed to display the videos with / without controls and and to record all participant interactions with the video (e.g. pause, seeking backwards and forwards).

The hypotheses focus on an improvement of learning with interactive videos in comparison with non-controllable videos, as well as a decrease of cognitive load. It is also expected to observe a correlation between self-reported levels of confusion and cognitive load as well as possible specific patterns of behaviour that participants can produce when learning from interactive videos.