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MANUSCRIPT: Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Instructor Fluency Increases Perceptions of Learning Without Increasing Actual Learning

The current study explored the effects of lecture fluency on students’ metacognitive
awareness and regulation. Participants watched one of two short videos of an instructor
explaining a scientific concept. In the fluent video the instructor stood upright,
maintained eye contact, and spoke fluidly without notes. In the disfluent video the
instructor slumped, looked away, and spoke haltingly with notes. After watching the
video, participants in Experiment 1 were asked to predict how much of the content they
would later be able to recall, and participants in Experiment 2 were given a text-based
script of the video to study. Perceived learning was significantly higher for the fluent
instructor than the disfluent instructor (Experiment 1), although study time was not
significantly affected by lecture fluency (Experiment 2). In both experiments, the fluent
instructor was rated significantly higher than the disfluent instructor on traditional
instructor evaluation questions such as preparedness and effectiveness. However, in both
experiments, lecture fluency did not significantly affect the amount of information
learned. Thus, students’ perceptions of their own learning, and an instructor’s
effectiveness, appear to be based on lecture fluency and not on actual learning.

Written by

Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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