Exploring the usage of thermal imaging for understanding video lecture designs and students' experiences

Namrata Srivastava, Sadia Nawaz, Jason M. Lodge, Eduardo Velloso, Sarah Erfani, James Bailey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Video is becoming a dominant medium for the delivery of educational material. Despite the widespread use of video for learning, there is still a lack of understanding about how best to help people learn in this medium. This study demonstrates the use of thermal camera as compared to traditional self-reported methods for assessing learners' cognitive load while watching video lectures of different styles. We evaluated our approach in a study with 78 university students viewing two variants of short video lectures on two different topics. To incorporate subjective measures, the students reported on mental effort, interest, prior knowledge, confidence, and challenge. Moreover, through a physical slider device, the students could continuously report on their perceived level of difficulty. Lastly, we used thermal sensor as an additional indicator of students' level of difficulty and associated cognitive load. This was achieved through, continuous real-time monitoring of students by using a thermal imaging camera. This study aims to address the following: firstly, to analyze if video styles differ in terms of the associated cognitive load. Secondly, to assess the effects of cognitive load on learning outcomes; could an increase in the cognitive load be associated with poorer learning outcomes? Third, to see if there is a match between students' perceived difficulty levels and a biological indicator. The results suggest that thermal imaging could be an effective tool to assess learners' cognitive load, and an increased cognitive load could lead to poorer performance. Moreover, in terms of the lecture styles, the animated video lectures appear to be a better tool than the text-only lectures (in the content areas tested here). The results of this study may guide future works on effective video designs, especially those that consider the cognitive load.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLAK 2020 Conference Proceedings
EditorsMaren Scheffel, Vitomir Kovanović, Niels Pinkwart, Katrien Verbert
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450377126
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2020 - Frankfurt, Germany
Duration: 23 Mar 202027 Mar 2020
Conference number: 10th
https://lak20.solaresearch.org (Website)
https://dl-acm-org.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/doi/proceedings/10.1145/3375462 (Website)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2020
Abbreviated titleLAK 2020
Internet address


  • Cognitive load
  • Instructional design
  • Thermal Imaging
  • Video lectures

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