Does Quality of Video Production Influence Learning Outcomes?

Adam Fein
3 min readMar 26, 2019

Professionally produced video/multimedia can be costly. Recently highlighted in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s piece How UT-Austin’s Bold Plan for Reinvention Went Belly Up, researchers involved with the project shared thatNeither study analyzed the part of the SMOC that was so expensive — the production quality.”

at Urbana-Champaign, in partnership with offers over 100 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as well as three MOOC-based degree programs. Illinois Coursera courses have reached learners from 195 countries. The design of these courses needs to be optimized for a very broad, international, and intercultural audience.

In online and MOOC environments, video lectures are the main content delivery medium. The literature offers mostly basic recommendations or describes instructors’ usage of different video styles. Scant empirical research has been conducted to explore the relationship between video properties and learning outcomes for a wide and varied student audience.

Our research sought to examine the impact on student learning outcomes when students watch videos that are produced by an instructor supported by a professional video production team versus self-produced by an instructor alone. As professionally produced video/multimedia can be costly, the aim of this research is to help inform instructors, departments, and administrators on how to leverage university resources, while maximizing student learning outcomes.

Our study was conducted on 191 participants (undergraduate students, graduate students, and non-students affiliated with Illinois), randomized into two groups, accessing two separate online course sites: one group watched a professionally-produced video and the other group watched an instructor-produced video. The videos had identical scripts, content, and the same instructor. Both groups completed an assessment quiz immediately after watching the video and an identical quiz two weeks afterwards so we could also begin to examine learning retention.

Results indicate that professionally produced videos positively affect retention of knowledge over a two-week period, particularly graduate students’ knowledge retention. Performance on the assessments was highest amongst participants in the professionally-produced video group who reported higher confidence levels in explaining the video content to someone else.

Professionally-produced videos appear to provide, therefore, a positive impact on student learning outcomes in online learning environments. Further research should examine in more detail the impact of video production styles for the graduate student audience, as well as investigate what specific aspects of the professional video production experience impact knowledge retention.

This research will be presented April 2–4, 2019 at the Coursera Partners Conference in London, England.

Further investigation is ongoing at the University of Illinois Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) and University of North Texas Division of Digital Strategy & Innovation and Center for Learning Experimentation, Application and Research (CLEAR).

We encourage collaboration! Researchers interested in discussing or replicating this study can contact Dr. Maryalice Wu (Illinois) and Dr. Tania Heap (North Texas) for more information.



Adam Fein

Adam D. Fein (PhD, Illinois) is the VP of Digital Strategy & Innovation at the University of North Texas. His research examines multimedia learning performance.