Re-writing the rules on student feedback

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 19 January 2016.

Using screen-capture software to create feedback videos for students is creating substantial interest in the educational community. Screen-capture software is a simple technology that records both the user’s voice and their on-screen activity, and the user can easily share the video via a link. Here’s an example of video feedback I provided to a student recently using Jing: Screencast feedback example

Several studies have found that students perceive video feedback as useful and preferable to written feedback. However, there is little research on how using screen-capture video as a method of providing feedback influences what educators choose to comment on and  how the feedback is communicated, as well as whether it leads to better understanding and uptake of the feedback by students.

My PhD research, undertaken at Western Sydney University,  investigates how screen-capture video feedback affects the provision and uptake of feedback compared to written comments. I am examining formative feedback provided to 20 undergraduate students at the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP). Each student submitted two draft assignments to a Student Learning Support Advisor for formative feedback. One text received written feedback and the other text received screen-capture video feedback.

Over the next few months, I will be analysing the advisor’s comments and the students’ revised papers to discover how the feedback method affects the content, wording and uptake of the comments. In my earlier study (Cavaleri et al., 2014), the analysis revealed that:

  • 89% of the video comments led students to make a ‘successful change’ compared to 72% of the written comments regarding content, structure, academic writing style and linguistic accuracy.
  • Written feedback had a greater focus on linguistic accuracy and contained mostly directive comments.
  • Video comments were more likely to respond to meaning and the logical development of ideas and contained more suggestions, explanations and praise.
  • The students preferred video because, in their opinion, it was easier to understand, had more depth and included explanations about why changes are necessary and how to improve their work.

These findings indicate that video feedback may help us implement feedback good practice principles, such as those suggested by Straub (2000) including ‘avoid taking control of the student’s text’, ‘prioritise giving comments on content and structure’ and ‘praise writing often’. The findings may also support Clark and Mayer’s (2008) claim that a multi-modal approach to learning is more effective than a mono-modal approach.

Cavaleri, M., Di Biase, B., & Kawaguchi, S. (2014). Academic literacy development: Does video commentary feedback lead to greater engagement and response than conventional written feedback? The International Journal of Literacies, 20(3), 19-38.