Thursday, March 08, 2012

Segmenting, Signaling, and Weeding: Improving Learning from Educational Video

It's always exciting to find out that something I have believed to be true actually is true, and there is research to support it! Today I read a wonderful journal article by Mohamed Ibrahim and Pavlo D Antoneko, both affiliated with Oaklahoma State University. The paper is titled, Effects of Segmenting, Signaling, and Weeding on Learning from Educational Video. The study used hearing students and focused on dual channel processing of video and the cognitive load problems that arise, particularly for novice learners without domain knowledge. I believe there are many good take-aways for content that is being developed for deaf learners.

Ibrahim and Antonenko tested three strategies that seem to improve knowledge retention: segmenting, signaling, and weeding.  Breaking the content into smaller pieces allows students' working memory to  Signaling means that the students are notified when a piece of content is important. Weeding refers to removing all superfluous content. 

The core problem is that when novice learners encounter video instruction, it tends to be delivered all in one big piece. It has to be swallowed whole, or not at all. In addition, if the student is a novice, without domain knowledge, then he has to try to figure out what is important and should be remembered, and then where that knowledge should be remembered. So, Ii the content is too long, for example an hour instead of 5 minutes, the student's working memory can't manage it. By contrast, when a student encounters a difficult text, the student can usually stop it, or think about it.

Segmenting is the practice of chunking the video. When the 5 minute video ends, the student must do something to get the next piece. Just this is enough to give his brain the time to consider and store the content.

Signally adresses a problem that novice learners have. Without domain knowledge, the student has to determine what is important, and what is not, and where each part of the knowledge fits, locically. Signaling notifies the student when something important is happening in the video. Not having to make this determination for themselves, when they don't yet have experience reduces the cognitive load on the student, and results in bettter retenion and learning.

Closely related is the problem of weeding. Weeding removes all superfluous material so again the student is able to understand what is important and what is not. Removing this material also reduces the cognitive load for the student.

The concepts of segmenting, signalling, weeding are critical to the instructional design model I'm assembling for teaching business skills, particularly concept and principle content types, to deaf professionals.


Post a Comment