Animation analytics in an interactive textbook for material and energy balances

Interactive textbooks generate big data through student reading participation, including
animations, question sets, and auto-graded homework. Animations are multi-step, dynamic
visuals with text captions. By dividing new content into smaller chunks of information, student
engagement is expected to be high, which aligns with tenets of cognitive load theory.
Specifically, students’ clicks are recorded and measure usage, completion, and view time per
step and for entire animations. Animation usage data from an interactive textbook for a chemical
engineering course in Material and Energy Balances accounts for 60,000 animation views across
140+ unique animations. Data collected across five cohorts between 2016 and 2020 used various
metrics to capture animation usage including watch and re-watch rates as well as the length of
animation views. Variations in view rate and time were examined across content, parsed by book
chapter, and five animation characterizations (Concept, Derivation, Figures and Plots, Physical
World, and Spreadsheets). Important findings include: 1) Animation views were at or above
100% for all chapters and cohorts, 2) Median view time varies from 22 s (2-step) to 59 s (6-step)

  • a reasonable attention span for students and cognitive load, 3) Median view time for animations
    characterized as Derivation was the longest (40 s) compared to Physical World animations,
    which resulted in the shortest time (20 s).

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