Does visual attention to the instructor in online video affect learning and learner perceptions

article abstract

An increasing number of instructional videos online integrate a real instructor on the video screen. So far, the empirical evidence from previous studies has been limited and conflicting, and none of the studies have explored how learners’ allocation of visual attention to the on-screen instructor influences learning and learner perceptions. Therefore, this study aimed to disentangle a) how instructor presence in online videos affects learning, learner perceptions (i.e., cognitive load, the judgment of learning, satisfaction, situational interest), and visual attention distribution and b) to what extent visual attention patterns in instructor-present videos predict learning and learner perceptions. Sixty college students each watched two videos on Statistics, one on an easy topic and the other one on a difficult topic, with each in one of the two video formats: instructor-present or instructor-absent. Their eye movements were simultaneously registered using a desktop-mounted eye tracker. Afterward, participants self-reported their cognitive load, the judgment of learning, satisfaction, situational interest in both videos, and feelings toward seeing the instructor for the instructor-present videos. Learning from the two videos was measured using retention and transfer questions.

Findings indicated instructor presence a) improved transfer performance for the difficult topic, b) reduced cognitive load for the difficult topic, c) increased judgment of learning for the difficult topic, and d) enhanced satisfaction and situational interest for both topics. Most participants expressed a positive feeling toward the instructor. Results also showed the instructor attracted a considerable amount of overt visual attention in both videos, and the amount of attention allocated to the instructor positively predicted participants’ satisfaction levels for both topics. 

CITATION: Wang, Jiahui, Pavlo Antonenko, and Kara Dawson. “Does Visual Attention to the Instructor in Online Video Affect Learning and Learning Perceptions? An Eye-Tracking Analysis.” Computers and Education (2020) 146. 103779).

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