How do medium naturalness and personality traits shape academic achievement and perceived learning? An experimental study of face-to-face and synchronous e-learning

Ina Blau, Orli Weiser, Yoram Eshet-Alkalai


This controlled experiment examined how academic achievement and cognitive, emotional and social aspects of perceived learning are affected by the level of medium naturalness (face-to-face, one-way and two-way videoconferencing) and by learners’ personality traits (extroversion–introversion and emotional stability–neuroticism). The Media Naturalness Theory explains the degree of medium naturalness by comparing its characteristics to face-to-face communication, considered to be the most natural form of communication. A total of 76 participants were randomly assigned to three experimental conditions: face-to-face, one-way and two-way videoconferencing. E-learning conditions were conducted through Zoom videoconferencing, which enables natural and spontaneous communication. Findings shed light on the trade-off involved in media naturalness: one-way videoconferencing, the less natural learning condition, enhanced the cognitive aspect of perceived learning but compromised the emotional and social aspects. Regarding the impact of personality, neurotic students tended to enjoy and succeed more in face-to-face learning, whereas emotionally stable students enjoyed and succeeded in all of the learning conditions. Extroverts tended to enjoy more natural learning environments but had lower achievements in these conditions. In accordance with the ‘poor get richer’ principle, introverts enjoyed environments with a low level of medium naturalness. However, they remained focused and had higher achievements in the face-to-face learning.

(Published 13 July 2017)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2017, 25: 1945 -


Medium Naturalness Theory; the "poor get richer" approach; synchronous e-learning; learning achievement; cognitive, emotional and social perceived learning

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