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Watching lecture videos is now a major part of many students’ uni experience. Some say they prefer them to live lectures, as they can choose when to study. Many students also take advantage of the fact that video playback can be sped up, so cutting the amount of time they spend on lectures.
But what impact does sped-up viewing have on learning? The answer, according to Applied Cognitive Psychology, is, within some limits, none.
In fact, if used strategically, it can actually improve learning. However, what students think is going to be the best strategy isn’t actually what’s most beneficial.
First, 231 student participants were assigned to watch two YouTube videos at normal speed, 1.5x speed, 2x speed or 2.5x speed. They were told to watch the videos in full screen and not to pause them or take any notes.
After each video, the students took comprehension tests, also repeated a week later. The results were clear: the 1.5x and 2x groups did just as well on the tests as the normal speed group, on both tests. Only at 2.5x was learning impaired.
It seems, then, that as long as the material can still be accurately perceived and comprehended, its okay to speed up playback.
So, a student could just watch videos at 2x speed and halve their time spent on lectures….Or, according to the results of other studies reported in the paper, they could watch a video at 2x normal speed twice, and do better on a test than if they’d watched it once at normal speed.
The timing mattered, though: only those who’d watched the 2x video for a second time immediately before a test, rather than right after the first viewing, got this advantage.
The team also explored whether watching the videos at different speeds on separate occasions — initially at normal speed but then at double time, or vice versa — might make a difference to test performance immediately afterwards or a week later.
Though 76% of the participants in this study said they thought watching first at normal speed then rewatching at double time would be best for learning, the order actually made no difference to test results.
The researchers do also add a few caveats. While 2x viewing was fine for learning about the material in their studies — real estate appraisals and the Roman Empire — perhaps it might not work for more complex subject matter;only more research will tell.
But as so many students do report watching at faster than normal speeds anyway, this work is clearly helpful: it suggests that as long as it’s not more than 2x faster, it’s far from being a bad idea.
19 yo medical student😄 I share interesting and sciency articles! 🇬🇧🇧🇩 MBTI: INTJ-T
I often watch videos at 2x speed, whether when studying or recreationally, so I found this article useful for learning how to utilise this for videos I watch as part of revision.
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