An examination of student preference for traditional didactic or chunking teaching strategies in an online learning environment

  • Brendan Humphries School of Medical and Applied Sciences, CQUniversity Australia, North Rockhampton, QLD, Australia
  • Damien Clark Learning Design and Innovation, CQUniversity Australia, North Rockhampton, QLD, Australia
Keywords: technology, video, tertiary education, learning management system, information literacy


This research examined first year undergraduate tertiary student preferences for different online video playback options by comparing a didactic long lecture recording versus a series of topical ‘chunked’ videos of identical learning material in an information literacy unit. Student preference was determined by student unique download choice of streaming video lecture material, cumulative visits and percent completion of viewing of lecture videos. De-identified click-stream data for 1268 university students across two academic years 2016 (n = 647) and 2017 (n = 621) were pooled to examine student preference. The major findings indicated a significant preference for chunk-style videos between 3 and 17 min duration when compared to traditional long-view didactic lecture materials. Results also highlighted an increase in unique views (60%–67%), cumulative visits (54%–67%) and percentage completions (25%) of chunked videos compared to didactic lectures (60 min). Additionally, student total viewing of the unit information influenced the final grade for the unit. Student preference and success were in favour of the smaller chunk-style lectures, which may also improve student attention, assist with time management to complete the materials and increase unit engagement. The overall findings of this research re-enforce the value of student-centric learning design in university education settings.


Download data is not yet available.


Adhikary, C., Sana, S. & Chattopadhyay, K. N. (2015) ‘Chunking strategy as a tool for teaching electron configuration’, Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 92, pp. 664–667. doi: 10.1021/ed500446t

Agahi, F. & Dmytrenko, N. (2016) ‘Chunking decision information: a way to make big data actionable’, Journal of Decision Systems, vol. 25, pp. 11–22. doi: 10.1080/12460125.2016.1187402

Au-Yong-Oliveira, M., et al., (2018) ‘The social impact of technology on millennials and consequences for higher education and leadership’, Telematics and Informatics, vol. 35, pp. 954–963. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2017.10.007

Bodie, G. D., Powers, W. G. & Fitch-Hauser, M. (2006) ‘Chunking, priming and active learning: toward an innovative and blended approach to teaching communication-related skills’, Interactive Learning Environments, vol. 14, pp. 119–135. doi: 10.1080/10494820600800182

Brettle, A. & Raynor, M. (2013) ‘Developing information literacy skills in pre-registration nurses: an experimental study of teaching methods’, Nurse Education Today, vol. 33, p. 103. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2011.12.003

Chen, C.-M. & Wu, C.-H. (2015) ‘Effects of different video lecture types on sustained attention, emotion, cognitive load, and learning performance’, Computers and Education, vol. 80, pp. 108–121. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.08.015

Chia, W. C., et al., (2015) ‘Hybrid learning for teaching computer fundamentals to 700 first year undergraduate students in 7-weeks’, IEEE Conference on e-Learning, e-Management and e-Services, pp. 163–168. doi: 10.1109/IC3e.2015.7403506

Cohen, N. R. & Sekuler, R. (2010) ‘Chunking and compound cueing of movement sequences: learning, retention, and transfer’, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 110, pp. 736–750. doi: 10.2466/pms.110.3.736-750

Ebbert, D. & Dutke, S. (2020) ‘Patterns in students’ usage of lecture recordings: a cluster analysis of self-report data’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 28. pp. 1–44. doi: 10.25304/rlt.v28.2258

Evmenova, A. S. & Behrmann, M. M. (2011) ‘Research-based strategies for teaching content to students with intellectual disabilities: adapted videos’, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, vol. 46, pp. 315–325, [online] Available at:

Farland, M. Z., et al., (2015) ‘Assessment of student learning patterns, performance, and long-term knowledge retention following use of didactic lecture compared to team-based learning’, Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, vol. 7, pp. 317–323. doi: 10.1016/j.cptl.2014.12.009

Ferrer-Vinent, I. J., et al., (2015) ‘Introducing scientific literature to honors general chemistry ctudents: teaching information literacy and the nature of research to first-year chemistry students’, Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 92, pp. 617–624. doi: 10.1021/ed500472v

Folley, D. (2010) ‘The lecture is dead long live the e-lecture’, Electronic Journal of e-Learning, vol. 8, pp. 93–100, [online] Available at:

Gobet, F., et al., (2001) ‘Chunking mechanisms in human learning’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 5, pp. 236–243. doi: 10.1016/S1364–6613(00)01662-4.

Gottlieb, M., Riddell, J. & Njie, A. (2017) ‘Trends in national emergency medicine conference didactic lectures over a 6-year period’, The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, vol. 37, pp. 46–49. doi: 10.1097/ceh.0000000000000144.

Guerrero, S., Baumgartel, D. & Zobott, M. (2013) ‘The use of screencasting to transform traditional pedagogy in a preservice mathematics content course’, Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, vol. 32, pp. 173–193, [online] Available at:

Hadie, S. N. H., et al., (2018) ‘Creating an engaging and stimulating anatomy lecture environment using the Cognitive Load Theory-based Lecture Model: students’ experiences’, Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, vol. 13, pp. 162–172. doi: 10.1016/j.jtumed.2017.11.001

Koufogiannakis, D. & Wiebe, N. (2006) ‘Effective methods for teaching information literacy skills to undergraduate students: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 1, pp. 3–43. doi: 10.18438/B8MS3D

Lah, N. C., Saat, R. M. & Hassan, R. (2014) ‘Cognitive strategy in learning chemistry: how chunking and learning get together’, Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Sciences, vol. 2, pp. 9–15, [online] Available at:

Leppink, J. (2017) ‘Cognitive load theory: practical implications and an important challenge’, Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, vol. 12, pp. 385–391. doi: 10.1016/j.jtumed.2017.05.003

Lewis, P. J. (2016) ‘Brain friendly teaching—reducing learner’s cognitive load’, Academic Radiology, vol. 23, pp. 877–880. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2016.01.018

Mayer, R., Bove, W., Bryman, A., Mars, R. & Tapangco, L. (1996) ‘When less is more: meaningful learning from visual and verbal summaries of science textbook lessons’, Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 88, pp. 64–73. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.88.1.64

Mcgee, P. (2014) ‘Blended course design: where’s the pedagogy?’, International Journal of ‘Mobile and Blended Learning, vol. 6, pp. 33–55. doi: 10.4018/ijmbl.2014010103

Miller, C. J., Mcnear, J. & Metz, M. J. (2013) ‘A comparison of traditional and engaging lecture methods in a large, professional-level course’, Advances in Physiology Education, vol. 37, pp. 347–355. doi: 10.1152/advan.00050.2013

Miller, G. A. (1956) ‘The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information’, Psychology Review, vol. 63, pp. 81−97. doi: 10.1037/h0043158

Ordás, V. C. (2015) ‘Learning Spanish wine language through lexical chunks’, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 173, pp. 113–118. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.02.039

Palenque, S. M. (2016) ‘The power of podcasting: perspectives on pedagogy’, Journal of Instructional Research, vol. 5, pp. 4–7. doi: 10.9743/JIR.2016.1

Reis, L. O., et al., (2015) ‘Delivery of a urology online course using moodle versus didactic lectures methods’, International Journal of Medical Informatics, vol. 84, pp. 149–154. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2014.11.001

Risko, E. F., et al., (2013) ‘Everyday attention: mind wandering and computer use during lectures’, Computers and Education, vol. 68, pp. 275–283. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.05.001

Rubio, E. I., et al., (2008) ‘Effect of an audience response system on resident learning and retention of lecture material’, American Journal of Roentgenology, vol. 190, pp. W319–W322. doi: 10.2214/AJR.07.3038

So, S. (2016) ‘Mobile instant messaging support for teaching and learning in higher education’, The Internet and Higher Education, vol. 31, pp. 32–42. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2016.06.001

Stephenson, J. E., Brown, C. & Griffin, D. K. (2008) ‘Electronic delivery of lectures in the university environment: an empirical comparison of three delivery styles’, Computers and Education, Vol. 50, pp. 640–651. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2006.08.007

Uslu, Ö. (2018) ‘Factors associated with technology integration to improve instructional abilities: a path model’, Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 31–50. doi: 10.14221/ajte.2018v43n4.3

Weightman, A. L., et al., (2017) ‘A systematic review of information literacy programs in higher education: effects of face-to-face, online, and blended formats on student skills and views’, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 12, pp. 20–55. doi: 10.18438/B86W90

Wilson, K. & Korn, J. H. (2007) ‘Attention during lectures: beyond ten minutes’, Teaching of Psychology, vol. 34, pp. 85–89. doi: 10.1080/00986280701291291

Young, M. S., Robinson, S. & Alberts, P. (2009) ‘Students pay attention!: Combating the vigilance decrement to improve learning during lectures’, Active Learning in Higher Education, vol. 10, pp. 41–55. doi: 10.1177/1469787408100194
How to Cite
Humphries B., & Clark D. (2021). An examination of student preference for traditional didactic or chunking teaching strategies in an online learning environment. Research in Learning Technology, 29.
Original Research Articles