Neural engagement with online educational videos predicts learning performance for individual students

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2018 Nov:155:60-64. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2018.06.011. Epub 2018 Jun 25.


Online educational materials are largely disseminated through videos, and yet there is little understanding of how these videos engage students and fuel academic success. We hypothesized that components of the electroencephalogram (EEG), previously shown to reflect video engagement, would be predictive of academic performance in the context of educational videos. Two groups of subjects watched educational videos in either an intentional learning paradigm, in which they were aware of an upcoming test, or in an incidental learning paradigm, in which they were unaware that they would be tested. "Neural engagement" was quantified by the inter-subject correlation (ISC) of the EEG that was evoked by the videos. In both groups, students with higher neural engagement retained more information. Neural engagement also discriminated between attentive and inattentive video viewing. These results suggest that this EEG metric is a marker of the stimulus-related attentional mechanisms necessary to retain information. In the future, EEG may be used as a tool to design and assess online educational content.

Keywords: EEG; Education; Inter-subject correlation; Online learning; STEM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Performance
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Audiovisual Aids*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Education, Distance
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Students
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult