The quest to find the optimal student self-study video format

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Self-study video modules with embedded quizzes were created, using three different video formats, to provide students with multimodal review/background material. The presenters will chronicle their quest to find the optimal student self-study video format which participants will be able to experience. Be sure to bring a laptop and earbuds!


Heather Hazelwood serves as an Academic Technology Specialist in the Center for Academic Technology at Butler University and is embedded in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She is a proud Butler alumnus who earned her B.A. in Recording Industry Studies (2005) and her M.S. in Effective Teaching and Leadership (2014). Her expertise lies in finding strategies and use cases for ways in which academic technology can enhance teaching and learning.

Extended Abstract

Prerequisite science courses in many health science curricula may be taken one or more years before the material is applied in courses in the professional phase and it is unlikely that students will have a working knowledge of material they learned one or more years prior. Previously in a principles of drug action course for pharmacy students, review/background information was provided to students via instruction to review notes from prerequisite courses, instructor provided documents, or brief in-class overview. These methods were not effective in preparing students for the in-class lecture and discussion. This study was intended to find the student preferred method for viewing an online self-study video module of review/background material. The goal was to provide students with this material in a way that they could review it on their own time at their own pace in preparation for the traditional lecture of new material in a large classroom setting. Additionally, we wanted to use this self-study video format for flipped classroom activities, where students viewed video modules and completed an embedded quiz before the intended in-class session in an effort to achieve a working knowledge of the background material for in-class application and discussion. We sought a method that would engage the students and ensure that the overwhelming majority, if not all, of the students in the course used the review/learning tool. We also included an embedded formative assessment in the self-study video module for students to engage with to reinforce learning. By understanding which self-study video module format students prefer and the impact of providing points to embedded quizzes, instructors can learn from our process and focus on creating review/background material in the preferred way with the goal of universal participation.

We chose an out of class video format for review/background material to prevent students from being cognitively overloaded during the in-class lecture and discussion. In Cognitive Load Theory, one method to decrease extraneous load to optimize germane load for in-class lecture time is by providing information via a multimodal format. Our self-study video modules took previously learned unimodal information from prerequisite courses or newly presented background material and formatted it into a multimodal format. Rather than providing the students with the information in only words, the video modules provided the information in words and pictures. Decreasing extraneous load by giving a multimodal learning tool beforehand should facilitate in-class learning based on Mayer’s (2012) Multimedia and Modality Effects from his Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. The Multimedia Effect states that better transfer of knowledge happens when a message contains words and pictures, rather than words alone (Mayer, 2012). The Modality Effect states that better transfer of knowledge occurs when there is animation and narration, rather than from animation and on-screen text (Mayer, 2012). In an effort to find the preferred multimodal video format for students, we compared TED-Ed Lesson, Lightboard, and Voiceover Slideshow video recordings. In addition, we assessed the effect of assigning points for completing the embedded formative feedback quiz on participation rate.

The TED-Ed Lesson consisted of a YouTube video (13 min 22 sec) of someone other than the instructor explaining a concept through writing and narration and was uploaded to TED-Ed Lessons (, a web 2.0 tool that makes a YouTube video into an interactive lesson for students that includes an embedded quiz. Points were not awarded for completing the TED-Ed Lesson quiz the first year it was used. Points were given to students for completion of the TED-Ed Lesson quiz the following year for comparison. The Lightboard video (15 min 12 sec) was created using the University’s lightboard studio. The instructor stood behind a glass surface and recorded the review material by writing on the board and slides and was also present in the video. A quiz connected to the Learning Management System - Moodle (LMS) was added to the end of the video and points were awarded for correctly completing the quiz. The Voiceover Slideshow (25 min 54 sec) was created by recording PowerPoint slides while the instructor narrated them. The instructor was not present in the recording (voice only) and the slides contained animation and movement. A quiz connected to the LMS was added to the end of the video and points were awarded for correctly completing the quiz.

In order to determine which of the three self-study video formats (TED-Ed Lesson, Lightboard, and Voiceover Slideshow video recordings) was preferred, students in the Fall 2016 RX411 Principles of Drug Action 1 course were surveyed after viewing each format. Surveys were administered through SurveyMonkey, were voluntary, and anonymous. Student preference was assessed using a 4-point Likert scale and open-ended feedback. Each survey contained the same questions about each format, so the data could be easily compared, as well as format specific questions. After students were exposed to all three formats, the last survey contained an additional question that asked students to rank the formats from most favorite to least favorite and then to explain the reasoning for their ranking. We also compared the participation data from the formative feedback quizzes that did and did not have points attached.

Analysis of the data showed students highly rated watching self-study video modules using the TED-Ed Lesson and Lightboard formats as a good way to learn background material with their top preference being the Lightboard. Students prefer seeing writing in the video as well as seeing their professor. As for providing points for the formative feedback quizzes, adding even minimal points to the quiz dramatically increased viewing rates. Students claimed they liked being able to assess their learning and they requested additional and more challenging quiz questions.

In the next phase, we converted the content that was delivered via the Voiceover Slideshow into a Lightboard video to see if students preferred viewing that content in a more preferable format. The converted video ended up being 50 min 14 sec, so the decision was made to split the content into two parts. Part 1 was 26 min 01 sec and Part 2 was 24 min 13 sec. Additionally, in the lightboard videos, we added two quiz questions embedded throughout each video to provide formative feedback to the student without points being awarded. A quiz connected to the LMS was still added to the end of each video and points were awarded for correctly completing it. After watching both parts of the Lightboard version of the content students in the Fall 2017 RX411 Principles of Drug Action 1 course were surveyed voluntarily and anonymously through Qualtrics. Additionally, the students from the Fall 2016 RX411 Principles of Drug Action 1 course, who received the Voiceover Slideshow version of the content the previous year, were asked to voluntarily watch the Lightboard version of the same content. Their assessment of the Lighboard version and comparison to the Voiceover Slideshow version was collected via anonymous survey through Qualtrics.

Analysis of the data showed that students still felt the Lightboard format was a good way to learn and they liked the addition of the embedded formative feedback quiz questions and the quiz for points at the end. However, a new theme that emerged from this data was that 37% of the students felt the length of each video part (~25 min each) was too long. Though they indicated that the maximum length of time they would be willing to watch a Lightboard recording was 15 min (46%) and 30 min (38%).

As another iteration, we sought to create an optimal Lightboard video based on student feedback. Our example of an optimal Lightboard video was 7 min 21 sec, contained 2 embedded formative quiz questions, and a four question quiz connected to the LMS where points were awarded for correctly completing the quiz. At the time of this submission, data collection on this optimal Lightboard video is still in progress. We look forward to presenting those findings during the conference and giving you the opportunity to experience our optimal self-study video first hand.