Assessing Video Content

What makes effective instructional videos? Which elements contribute to successful learning objectives and retained knowledge?

Takeaways from the Research:
  • High production values may not increase learning
  • Length of video greatly affects attention, aka “The Six Minute Rule.”
  • Inclusion of an instructor’s visage makes videos more engaging.
  • Nearly anything is more engaging than a Powerpoint with voiceover.
  • Prerecorded lectures can’t be improved by chunking.
  • Incorporating interactive questions embedded in video may improve student’s performance as well as satisfy student’s preference.
  • Use an inverted pyramid model to address important content first and ancillary content later.


Bowles-Terry, M., Hensley, M. K., & Hinchliffe, L. J. (2010). Best practices for online video tutorials in academic libraries: A study of student preferences and understanding. Communications in Information Literacy, 4(1), 17-28. Purely instructional videos of  only three minutes are still viewed as too long by some students.

Choi, H. J., & Johnson, S. D. (2005). The effect of context-based video instruction on learning and motivation in online courses. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19(4), 215-227. Video materials are easier to attend to as well as more motivating.

Hibbert, M. C. (2014). What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?. Educause Review Online. Students expected a sophisticated course to include video; Instructor personality is important; Average video viewing length only 4 minutes.

Hansch, A., Hillers, L., McConachie, K., Newman, C., Schildhauer, T., & Schmidt, P. (2015). Video and online learning: Critical reflections and findings from the field.  High production values may not increase learning.

Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of mooc videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on learning@ scale conference (pp. 41-50). Segment videos into chunks shorter than six minutes.

Lagerstrom, L., Johanes, P., & Ponsukcharoen, M. U. (2015). The myth of the six minute rule: Student engagement with online videos. Age, 26, 1. Different cohorts and audiences can lead to different viewing patterns.

Vural, O. F. (2013). The Impact of a Question-Embedded Video-Based Learning Tool on E-Learning. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 13(2), 1315-1323.  Designing learning activities as part of video viewing may lead to students being more successful in fulfilling learning outcomes.

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