The role of practice in learning from video

Mentor: Hans van der Meij


Some proponents of instructional video go so far as to claim that people can learn how to perform software tasks just from viewing a video in which a model performs the task. Opponents sniff at this idea. With their minds being set on an image of a “mister truck driver slouching on a coach and drinking beer”, they simply cannot imagine how such an inactive form of information intake can yield learning. No, they say. People cannot learn procedures from viewing only, learning invariably requires deliberate effort and practice.

According to social cognition theory (Bandura) observational learning should include a ‘production’ phase in which the viewer must achieve a task that is similar to the one that has been observed. Production, also known as practice, is believed to serve a consolidating function. It stengthens an existing memory for a procedure. In addition, practice may reveal gaps of knowledge, leading the viewer to take remedial actions (i.e., a second look at the video). In this thesis topic you examine whether or not practice is needed for instructional videos to be effective.


You study the literature on the role of practice for learning (from video). Next you set up an experimental study. You may decide to investigate three conditions. The control condition merely gives participants the opportunity to view (a series of) task videos. One experimental condition includes a moment of practice immediately after each task video. To examine pure consolidation, this group is not allowed any video look-backs once they start with practice. The other experimental condition also includes practice, and in addition allows participants video look-backs to investigate the effect or remedial actions. Most of the instructional materials for conducting this experiment are available.


  • Rensink, I. (2014). Het effect van de aanwezigheid en het moment van oefenen op het leren van softwaretaken middels on-screen video instructie. Ba-these, Universiteit Twente.
  • van der Meij, H., & van der Meij, J. (2013). Eight guidelines for the design of instructional videos for software training. Technical Communication, 60(3), 205-228.