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

Harris, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-9627-4900, Buglass, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-1079-8461 and Gous, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-7199-7333, 2021. The impact of lecture chunking format on university student vigilance: implications for classroom pedagogy. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 3 (2), 90 - 102.

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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 quasi-experimental 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.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology
Creators: Harris, A., Buglass, S. and Gous, G.
Publisher: Octagon Education Consultancy
Date: 3 October 2021
Volume: 3
Number: 2
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 10 Feb 2022 16:55
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 16:55

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