How Students React to Videos in the Classroom

March 23, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

A white paper exploring how students react to the use of videos in higher education illustrated their diverse expectations of those films.

A white paper exploring how students react to the use of videos in higher education illustrated their diverse expectations of those films.

The research included 3 surveys and 9 interviews with 1673 students from North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and South America. About 50% of the participants were undergraduates, and 33% were graduate or postgraduate students.

Of the 1673 students, 68% reported watching videos in their classes, and 79% said they watch videos outside the classroom for educational purposes.

Students reported being drawn to videos with charismatic speakers, and they preferred watching a video that is off-topic but has a good speaker, versus a video that is on-topic but has a boring speaker.

Author Elisabeth Leonard, MSLS, MBA, executive market research manager at SAGE, highlighted the benefits of videos, noting that they can be cheaper educational tools than textbooks, increase classroom engagement, and facilitate the instructor’s effectiveness. She pointed to a previous study that found videos could decrease anxiety in the classroom and assist students’ comprehension of medication administration.

“For some students, video not only brings a topic to life, but is (also) preferential because of their personal learning style—namely, calling themselves visual learners,” Leonard wrote.

However, other studies have found that students may multitask while watching videos, which could lead to less engagement and comprehension.

Students’ tolerance for the length of educational videos varied. Less than 1% said they typically watch an entire educational video, while the majority of students provided a range of 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the content and type of video.

Five percent of students said they typically watch educational videos for 5 minutes, and 1% said their tolerance for educational videos was <2 minutes.

Students also judged the videos quickly, as they could determine whether they were inclined to watch an entire film within the first couple minutes. Some students reported that they were looking for the relevancy of the videos within that timeframe, while others said they were deciding whether the video could hold their interest. Few students reported looking for entertainment in videos, though humor was typically seen as a plus.

“All of these findings help to present the environment in which learning takes place in higher education,” Leonard wrote. “With a diversity of age ranges and life experiences and with a similar diversity of classrooms types (synchronous and asynchronous, in person and virtual), student expectations for videos—including how their faculty will employ videos—are just as diverse as the campus communities of which they are members.”