ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 2184-2194.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.02184

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Can the presence of human teacher promote video learning?

KUANG Ziyi, ZHANG Yang1, WANG Fuxing, YANG Xiaomeng1, HU Xiangen1,2   

  1. 1Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, and School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China;
    2Department of Psychology, The University of Memphis, Memphis 38152, USA
  • Received:2021-03-29 Online:2021-12-15 Published:2021-10-26

Abstract: With the increasing popularity of online teaching, online platforms such as MOOC have been one of the research focuses for educational researchers all over the world. However, online courses still face many challenges. The most noticeable challenge is the higher than usual dropout rate. It is reasonable to assume that these challenges are likely due to its most used format, namely video-based content delivery. Typical video-based content delivery is direct broadcast or taped lectures of the human teachers. The primary goal of this review paper is to explore possible roles of human teachers in such video-based online learning environments. High percentages of teachers are inexperienced “actors” so they focus more on the correctness of the content they lecture and pay less attention to the presentation of themselves. They may not fully be aware when and how to be part of the video. When they are in the video, what would be the most engaging gestures and their potential influence on students’ learning. One simple fact is often observed that the appearance of the teacher in video lectures may help students engage. The importance of the potential roles of the teachers can be explained by several theories, such as parasocial theory, social presence theory, and social agent theory. These theories suggest that real human teachers in video-based learning environments promote learning; Other theories such as cognitive theory of multimedia learning and cognitive load theory believe that real human teachers may hinder learning. While different theories predict teachers’ roles differently, in this review article, we found such inconsistencies in several empirical studies. We observed in the selected studies that real human teachers only have a small impact on students' learning, subjective experience, and attention process. Specifically, in video-based lectures, the presence of teachers only has a weak effect on learning (retention test, d = 0.23 and transfer test, d = 0.1). From the selected 20 studies on retention tests, only 4 studies (20%) show that real human teachers in the video can improve students' retention test, and 2 (10%) of the studies show that real human teachers can hinder students' retention test. From a total of 12 studies that measure transfer, 3 (25%) of them show that real human teachers can improve students' transfer test scores. In terms of subjective experience, teachers' influence on students has a medium effect size on perceived learning (d = 0.49), learning interest (d = 0.5) and large effect size on learning satisfaction (d = 2.21). Of the 5 studies that discussed perceived learning, 3 of which (60%) found that real human teachers can improve students' perceived learning and 1 of which (20%) found that real human teachers can reduce students' perceived learning. Of the 7 studies that explored the influence of real human teachers on students' learning interest, 3 (42%) of which showed that real human teachers promote students' interest in learning. Of the 3 studies that explored the impact of real human teachers on satisfaction, 2 of which (67%) found that adding real human teachers to videos increased students' satisfaction ratings. With regard to the attention of the processing, the presence of teachers reduced the fixation time of learners (d = -2.02). Of the 4 studies included in this report 3 of which (75%) found that learners' total fixation time on learning materials was significantly less than the condition with teachers than that without teachers. Our review of the literature suggests that future research needs to pay close attention to the following four aspects of video-based learning 1) presentation of real teachers, we need to explore the effects of factors that had been mostly ignored, such as nonverbal cues (such as gazing and gesture) and proportion of teachers’ image and learning contents. 2) learners' characteristics, especially learners' cultural differences and learning preferences (such as visual preferences). 3) learning materials, the levels of difficulty of learning materials, different domains (such as humanity or STEM) and types of knowledge (such as procedural and declarative). These factors interactively determine teachers' influence on students’ learning; We also understand that there are challenges for systematically studying the effect of teachers with the three variables. One of the challenges is to select the right research methods. We suggest that objective methods would be a good first choice to explore cognitive processing (such as eye gaze, attention switching between task interest areas) and cognitive neural activities (such as EEG) that teachers affect students' learning.

Key words: teacher, video learning, parasocial interaction, social agent, multimedia learning

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