Using the SAMR model to innovate assessment design

SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. It is a model created by Dr Rueben Puentedura. The purpose of the model is to assist teachers in deciding how much technology integration is achievable in a particular learning environment.

(Schoology Exchange, 2017)

The levels in the model should not be viewed as a hierarchy where one level has a higher value over  another, but rather it should be viewed as a spectrum of options for technology integration into teaching practice. However, as with the use of any technology tool, the key factor is that it must improve the learning outcomes, otherwise it just becomes technology for the sake of it.

The group presentation challenge

At Curtin College in one of the Stage 1 Diploma units, students are required to deliver a group oral presentation. Students used to deliver their presentations in the last week of the trimester, in front of their fellow classmates, whilst their teacher graded the presentations and completed the assessment rubric. This was done in real time so that the teacher could return the feedback at the end of the class and engage in a whole of class discussion about areas of strength and improvement.

However, in reality this method was not providing the positive learning or teaching experience we had hoped for. Teachers were trying to multi-task, listening to presentations for language fluency and accuracy, writing down meaningful feedback for the group and each speaker individually trying to keep track of the rest of the class. Students were more focused on rehearsing their presentations, silently in their heads, instead of learning from their classmates’ delivery.  And, when students did get up as a group to finally present it was often obvious, from their body language and lack of organisation, that the team had never met up to practice prior to their delivery. This was not a positive way to end the trimester, something had to change.

Introducing technology to innovate assessment design

Using the SAMR model as a guide, we trialled students using their mobile phones to video record their group presentations outside of class time. Students would video the whole group in one complete take using the video tool on their smart phones. They saved their recordings onto their Google drive and posted the link to the recording into the assignment submission box on Moodle. Teachers would access the link through Moodle, view the recording and then grade the student presentations and return the feedback to the students.

We surveyed both staff and students to investigate whether this innovative approach to traditional presentations was in fact improving the learning outcomes for the students. We surveyed 205 students over two trimesters and asked them 6 six questions:

  1. When you first learned that you had to complete a group presentation for this unit, how did that make you feel?
  2. Was this your first time to deliver a group presentation in English?
  3. Did you or your group members watch your recorded presentation before submitting it to Moodle?
  4. If you did view your presentation before submitting it, how many times did you view it before you were happy to submit it to Moodle?
  5. Did you or your group members have any challenges (technology or others when filming your presentations or uploading it to Moodle?
  6. If you were giving a recommendation to a friend about the format you felt you learnt the most from, would you recommend this filmed approach or the live class audience format?

The most revealing answers related to question 3 and 6. Between 53%-64% of students indicated that they preferred the video format because they believed it provided the most learning opportunity for them. But, what was most revealing was the number of times the students redid their presentations before they were happy enough to submit it for assessment. As can be seen from the survey data students were re-doing their presentations multiple times before submission.

Enabling error correction, self-reflection and more

Using video to record the presentations enabled students to observe and self-reflect on their delivery and use of language. Video enabled students to both see and hear what they really sounded like and looked like in their delivery, this was something not possible with traditional in class presentations. It also enabled students to provide peer to peer feedback and immediately put that feedback into practice when they recorded it again. And, with each recording the groups would review and collectively reflect for further improvement, with between 30-37% of the groups rerecording their presentations more than 3 times until they were happy with it.

Feedback gathered from the teaching team was equally positive and included:

  • “I feel they provide more actual learning to the students who can address errors as they go”.
  • “I think the recording is a great idea. It allows the student to practise to get the presentation right. It provides scaffolding to the real thing-face to face presentation!”

The use of technology in the redesign of this assessment has completely transformed the entire experience for both staff and students. It has enabled what Puentedura has described as a complete redefinition of the assessment. The use of technology in this case has enabled a transformation of the assessment with the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable without the technology.

To continue the conversation about innovating assessment design, contact Bronwyn Mortimer or Gemma Clake or share your thoughts and ideas about the different ways students can engage in learning via YammerTwitter or LinkedIn.


  • Puentedura, R. R. (2006, November 28). Transformation, technology, and education in the state of Maine [Web log post]. Retrieved from