The Effect of Designing and Segmenting Instructional Video

Penny Thompson, Ying Xiu, Jessica Tsotsoros, Michelle A. Robertson
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 20  •  2021  •  pp. 173-200

This study aims to explore whether instructors and educators should segment portions of instructional video that can be loaded and executed independently of other portions, and how long the segment portion of instructional video should be to effectively influence students’ learning, perception, and interaction.

Instructional videos are widely used in higher education for pedagogy purposes, and students expect their face-to-face and online courses to include video for effective instructional and learning outcomes. The literature indicates that researchers suggested that segmented video might assist learning and reduce cognitive burden; however, empirical research does not provide sufficient guidance about how to do it.

This mixed-methods study included quantitative data from an online experiment, followed by qualitative data from focus groups to help explain and expand on the quantitative findings. This study compared a 14-minute instructional video with the same content split into three segments, ranging from four to five minutes in length, to explore how segmenting affects students’ learning and how students perceive and interact with the video. The quantitative portion of the study used an experimental design with random assignment to control and experimental groups. Participants were randomly assigned by Qualtrics to one of two conditions where they watched either a single long (14-minute) video (the control group) or the same content split into three video segments (the experimental group). Participants in both groups were asked to watch the video(s), take a content knowledge quiz, and respond to an opinion questionnaire. The qualitative portion of the study consisted of focus groups where participants were asked to reflect on their overall perceptions of using online instructional video.

This study contributes to the literature knowledge on how students interact with instructional video and how, and if, longer instructional videos should be divided into shorter segments.

Results from this study indicated that there is no significant difference between the Long Video Group (control group) and the Segmented Video Group (experimental group) on measures of learning, interaction with or perceptions of the video. However, participants who engaged in multitasking activities other than texting performed worse on the learning measure. The focus group participants described a variety of behaviors and preferences for watching the instructional video but expressed a preference for videos that were about 20 minutes long.

For the purpose of building declarative knowledge, the number and length of instructional video segments may be less important than the other instructional materials and strategies instructors and educators provide to support students’ interaction with the instructional video.

The qualitative findings suggest that while preferred instructional video length may differ based on context, a 20-minute instructional video may be preferred, or at least accepted, in a typical academic setting, though this possibility needs further study.

Results from this study may help instructors and educators to create high quality instructional video content by acknowledging that decisions about instructional video length and segmenting require professional discretion rather than arbitrary rules regarding video length.

Future researchers and practitioners can further evaluate and enhance the importance and design of instructional videos for pedagogical purposes, and additional research is needed before instructors, educators, and the educational field can accept the thought that any video over five or six minutes is considered too long for students’ attention span.

instructional video, video segmenting, video length, multitasking; mixed methods
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