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Designing Effective Vocabulary Videos: Comparing Animated and Live-Action Movies

Koichi Sato, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


As part of the project to create short skit-based movies for teaching English vocabulary words, 3 styles of videos were created – (a) animation movies with animated 3D characters with text-to-speech voices (anime TTS), (b) animation movies with animated 3D characters with human voices (anime HV), and (c) live-action movies with human actors (live-action). An online study was conducted to examine whether different video styles would produce different vocabulary learning outcomes and different levels of learner engagement. Fourteen undergraduate and 32 graduate students were recruited from 19 UNL courses across 8 disciplines as well as through newsletters and listservs at 4 university departments and offices and were randomly assigned into the 3 learning conditions. Each student watched a set of 7 vocabulary videos in either the anime TTS, anime HV, or live-action format and took comprehension, immediate retention, and delayed retention tests to measure their vocabulary learning outcomes. They also completed a survey that measured the levels of their engagement with the movies they had watched. Separate one-way and two-way ANOVAs were performed to compare the 3 groups on their vocabulary learning outcomes as well as on their engagement levels. There were no differences among the 3 groups on their vocabulary learning outcomes.The effect of gender and the interaction effect of video style and academic level reached near significance on the delayed vocabulary retention and comprehension tests respectively, but they were most likely due to the small sample sizes and unequal variances. The engagement survey indicated that human voice still sounded livelier and more authentic than machine voice even though AI-powered machine voices were used in the current study. The survey also indicated that character liveliness was influenced by how lively the characters sounded, but not by how lively they looked. It is possible that a ceiling effect due to the robust vocabulary instructional methods might have made it hard to detect small effects of video style. The small sample sizes might also have resulted in less statistical power.

Subject Area

Instructional Design|Educational technology|English as a Second Language

Recommended Citation

Sato, Koichi, "Designing Effective Vocabulary Videos: Comparing Animated and Live-Action Movies" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI29323570.