The impact of lecture chunking format on university student vigilance: Implications for classroom pedagogy

Harris, Andrew, Buglass, Sarah and Gous, Georgina (2021) The impact of lecture chunking format on university student vigilance: Implications for classroom pedagogy. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 3 (2). pp. 90-102. ISSN 2687-3788

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The impact of lecture chunking format on university student vigilance: Implications for classroom pedagogy
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Consistent with capacity theories of attention, attention can be sustained to the extent that spare mental
resources remain available. The traditional lecture in higher education has received criticism for being too
long to hold a student’s attention. This is based on several author’s claims that there is a measurable
decrement in student attention after approximately 10-15 minutes of sustained content delivery. The
present research aimed to investigate if providing small, separate units of an asynchronous lecture is able
to enhance motivation for task engagement through perceived achievability of the learning outcomes, and
consequently, enhance sustained attention amongst postgraduate university students. Utilising a quasiexperimental design, 51 postgraduate psychology students were recruited by opportunistic sampling from
a cognitive psychology lecture on an MSc Psychology course, and given the option to watch either a long,
single-video version of a lecture, or the same lecture delivered as smaller separate video chunks. Key
findings indicate that presenting the material as smaller separate video units increased the perceived
achievability of the learning outcomes and reduced the number of attention lapses experienced, but not
the duration of those lapses, all measured via self-report single-item measures. The shorter separate videos
condition also saw greater levels of break taking compliance. Looking at the sample as a whole using a
hierarchical regression analysis, whilst controlling for student mind wandering tendencies as measured by
the Mind Excessively Wandering Scale (MEWS), taking breaks was a significant negative predictor of
attention lapses. Taken together, this suggests taking breaks is an integral part of sustained attention, and
that chunking lectures into separate video units increases break taking compliance. Therefore, when
designing online asynchronous learning material, lecturers should consider the value of chunking learning
material for its potential direct and indirect effect on sustained attention.

Keywords:asynchronous lectures, attention, capacity theory, chunking, vigilance
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C812 Educational Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science
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ID Code:46843
Deposited On:11 Oct 2021 10:32

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