Short, simple science explanations and erroneous overconfidence


This video presents some interesting research carried out by Derek Muller for his PhD at the University of Sydney, Australia. He looked at the use of short videos to explain and teach scientific principles and how these impacted learning. His findings are quite surprising. Because short online videos tend to present ideas in a clear and concise manner, students believe they are following them and their knowledge of science increasing. But precisely because students believe they understand the content, they do not pay full attention and if the information presented differs from their prior knowledge, they are actually not engaged enough to notice and so the result is watching these videos makes them more confident of their prior misconceptions.

Derek suggests that the videos start by presenting common misconceptions (a technique a lot of science teachers use), and then go on to make it clear these misconceptions are wrong. This might increase the learning impact of the videos, but it would also increase the mental effort required by the student to focus and engage, which might make the students less keen to watch them!

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