Authentic background in educational videos: attraction or distraction.

  • Andra Gherghiceanu

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Videos are one of the technological tools already in use for several years in education. Videos have proven their value as effective tools for learning when specific design criteria are followed. One aspect that has had only limited attention in educational research is the impact of background in an educational video on learning. The current study aimed to investigate this aspect: the influence of an authentic background on learning outcomes through the mediation of situational interest and cognitive load. For this study, a between-subject experiment has been carried out with 114 participants who were employees of two schools in the Netherlands. The participants were tested on their prior knowledge of the video’s subject (glaciers) and then were randomly redirected to either a video with an authentic background (a picture of a glacier) or one with a neutral background (grey). Afterward, their learning outcomes were measured, and they were asked to rate their level of situational interest and cognitive load. Parallel mediation analysis with prior knowledge as a covariate was carried out. Results showed no mediation of situational interest or cognitive load on learning outcomes and no significant direct effect of the type of background on learning outcomes. Surprisingly, prior knowledge was associated with a lower level of situational interest. The study’s findings pinpoint the need for more research in a more authentic setting and the need to focus on the impact of different design elements of educational material depending on learner characteristics (for example, low versus high prior knowledge).
Date of Award9 Jul 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorChristian M. Stracke (Supervisor)


  • educational videos
  • video background
  • cognitive load
  • situational interest

Master's Degree

  • Master Onderwijswetenschappen

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