Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Are live lectures better than videos?

A study by Trenholm, Hajek, Robinson, Chinnappan, Albrecht, and Ashman (2018) found that students who watched videos, rather than attend live lectures, had a more surface approach to learning. However, I suggest this may be a correlation, not a causal relationship. It may be that the students who were less engaged with the material chose not to attend lectures and those lectures may not have helped them.

The study appears to have used face-to-face courses, to which recorded lectures were added. The researchers did not offer the students a purpose designed online course.

The question the researchers asked, if recorded lectures are better than face-to-face ones, shows the unhealthy fixation with "lectures" which many academics have. Video recordings of lectures are the least useful part of online education, but then "lectures" are the least useful part of an on-campus education.


Trenholm, S., Hajek, B., Robinson, C. L., Chinnappan, M., Albrecht, A., & Ashman, H. (2018). Investigating undergraduate mathematics learners’ cognitive engagement with recorded lecture videos. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 1-22. URL

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