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Snapchat-style teacher-to-student feedback gets thumbs up

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15 January 2015

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Using video recordings and maybe even temporary social media apps like Snapchat to give students video feedback on assignments could be more meaningful for learning than the age-old practice of teachers scribbling comments with a red pen, according to new research.

Students valued video feedback over written comments said Monash University information communication technologies experts Dr Michael Henderson and Dr Michael Phillips from the Faculty of Education. The research evolved from using short five-minute videos with 126 of their own undergraduate and postgraduate students in three separate trials.

Dr Henderson said that using intuition based on the classroom experience, the researchers wanted to take a closer look at a disconnect in the literature on student feedback.

“Almost everyone agrees student feedback is inseparable from the learning process - and some even say high quality feedback is the most powerful single influence on student achievement - yet the same literature points out that many students do not value the feedback comments but simply skip to the grade," Dr Henderson said.

Dr Phillips said some students didn't even bother to collect their work once it had been assessed, preferring to receive their grades by notification.

“Even if students read the feedback, some researchers have argued that they do little with it, resulting in lecturers complaining that the many hours spent in providing feedback feels like wasted effort," Dr Phillips said.

“Basically, we wanted to find a something better than the established comments-in-the-margin with a red biro scenario.”

The research provided a “striking outcome" with a clear indication that students not only found the webcam-created videos easier to understand, but they also felt a closer connection with their teachers (from 25 per cent in the first trial to 91.7 per cent in the third).

"In our courses, video feedback was provided for the final assignment usually worth 50-60 per cent of the semester’s grade,” the researchers said.

“The students had already received detailed written feedback on their first assignment. The videos were generally recorded immediately after the assignment was read and while notes were made on the assignment as prompts no ‘script’ was written. The proximity of the recording to when the assignment was read, meant the comments were specific, the advice relevant and the language had a sense of immediacy.

"This also meant that our time was not wasted making copious notes to recall the specific details of individual assignments. We rarely re-recorded and never edited videos as this would make the process too time consuming and ultimately unsustainable for larger or multiple classes. The recorded videos along with the grades were then uploaded to the grade book in the online student learning platform."

The researchers said more research was needed in this area as the use of video for assessment feedback had received little consideration in the research literature to date.

The paper will be published in the next edition of Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

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Education Research