Video commentary engages my students. It helps to build relationships between tutor and student and enables feedback that can feed forward, directing students towards successful outcomes. Dr. Bill Soden, Department of Education
One of the perennial assessment challenges is to ensure that time spent providing formative feedback to students is maximised to help them to understand assessment requirements and improve the quality of their work. This show and tell event focused on the potential for screen-recording to address this challenge by improving formative feedback.
Screen-recorded feedback involves bringing up a student assignment on screen and ‘talking through’ key aspects, expanding on the most important points. Bill Soden from Education and Sally Quinn from Psychology described benefits of this approach in terms of ‘amount’ of feedback, affective benefits when giving difficult feedback, and supporting preparation for supervision meetings and tutorials. Beyond the individual level, they also described the use of screen-recordings to create cross-cohort feedback and resources analysing exemplar materials.
Sally Quinn, Psychology
Sally began by outlining her use of video for feedback to her project students. After providing written feedback comments on three sections of project drafts, Sally brings the work up on screen and records further elaboration on key aspects. These recordings vary in focus and length depending on individual needs but the videos are usually a maximum of 10-15 minutes in length. She then makes the written comments and the recordings available to students via a private folder in google drive in advance of a feedback meeting. Sally considered the time needed to create the feedback recordings to have a direct pay-off in increased student engagement with the feedback and increased efficiency of face-to-face feedback meetings. She found that students were more likely to come to these meetings fully prepared, the quality of discussion improved and the need for further clarification afterwards was reduced. Students appreciated the further elaboration on key comments and valued having a permanent record of both the written and the verbal comments to draw on both immediately for the meeting and later when further developing their project work.
Sally was clear that, for her, this process is particularly well-suited for the relatively intensive, individualised approaches required for project work. For larger, more generic modules, she described how ‘how-to videos’ are embedded within written feedback forms to provide students with a ‘just in time’ resource for addressing common issues in academic writing within Psychology. These include exemplars aiming to contextualise the guidance. Qualitative feedback from students suggests that this process is a highly-valued supplement to written feedback.
Bill Soden, Education
Bill outlined the use of screen-recording for feedback in Language Education and particularly on the MA TESOL programme in the Department of Education in which he has used screen recorded feedback with a relatively large number of students for almost a decade. He described how spending 4-5 minutes time recording feedback resulted in approximately 800 words of feedback compared to approximately 350 words of written feedback. This provided him with opportunities to efficiently explain concepts more fully, elaborating on why key suggested changes within a student’s work would result in improvement. He also valued the ability to ‘show’ certain changes through editing/moving elements of the text as well as the increased ability to encourage when delivering critical comments.
- Provide personal greeting
- Give brief overview of main points to cover [First I’ll deal with the strengths- the really relevant points and organisation, then go on to weaknesses such as use of evidence…]
- Avoid focus on too many small errors
- Ensure points in text margin comments are elaborated on and not simply repeated
- If time summarise
- Limit recording as close to 5 mins as possible
Qualitative feedback from students elicited over multiple year groups has indicated to Bill that students consistently value screen-recording as a complement to written feedback, finding recordings to be engaging and to add clarity to written feedback comments, and valuing the focus on motivation and affective factors. Similarly to Sally, Bill also described how his use of screen-recorded has extended beyond individual feedback to the creation of cross-cohort resources focusing on common issues and incorporating exemplar materials.
Reflecting on his experiences over the last 10 years and noting positive outcomes from a range of disciplinary and institutional contexts, Bill also provided his thoughts on why screen-recording has not become a more widely-used tool within the University and, indeed, within Higher Education more broadly. This formed the basis of studies he undertook as part of his YPAD application in which he explored the impact of his previous screen-recording dissemination activities within the University.
These studies led him away from any simple conclusions that screen-recorded feedback provides a ‘silver bullet’ applicable for every tutor in every context. Some staff who use screen-recorded feedback found the challenges of recording without rehearsal created ‘performance anxiety’ barriers, whilst others found that using screen recordings did not suit their particular context, for example, second language tutors providing technical feedback on language errors.
Time to incorporate new practices was, as always, an issue, but Bill was clear that, for him, the time factor does not have to be a constraint. After becoming familiar with the software, the workflow and procedure, screen-recording does not necessarily mean spending more time on providing feedback, although it is not likely to reduce time spent on feedback for those looking for short cuts or ways to reduce workload. He also noted the easy availability of options for both recording and distribution available to all staff and that technical problems and time taken to get to grips with new software was found to no longer be the barrier it was when he first experimented with screen-recording ten years ago.
Whilst, for some, the absence of ‘hard’ evidence that screen-recording leads to improved results remains an issue, qualitative research in different disciplines and contexts has, again and again, demonstrated benefits in terms of engagement with feedback and perceptions of value. The message from both Bill and Sally is clear that social and emotional value of screen-recording as a method of providing feedback and is real and, given the relative ease of creation and distribution, it is worth further attention as a means of improving feedback practices across the University.
For more information about screen-recording, please contact the Programme Design and Learning Technology team at firstname.lastname@example.org.