Friday, 22 November 2013

Using Screencasting to provide timely general feedback on assessments, Dr Katherine Haxton

Screencasting, also known as vodcasting, offers a means of providing mini-lectures working through answers to assessments that students can view at a time and place of their choosing, rather than being forced to listen in a timetabled class.  Crucially, screencasts of model answers and problem solving allow teachers to reveal their problem solving strategy, something not easily conveyed with written answers. 
We use a Toshiba tablet PC running Windows 7 and Camtasia Studio 7 and a digital voice recorder was used in place of the internal microphone to record high quality audio which was then edited into the screencast. The screencasts were edited before production of the video to remove any awkward pauses or stumbles.  This enabled the screencasts to be recorded in one attempt. Custom production settings were used within Camtasia Studio 7 to enable a table of contents to be produced in the finished video. This allows students to navigate to a specific part of the screencast, for example a specific PowerPoint slide title, enabling them to revisit content easily. Screencasts were approximately 5 minutes in length (the maximum length for online production) and took around 20 minutes to prepare, record and edit each after the initial learning curve. 
Screencasts were used to provide model answers to a number of class tests in the 2010/11 academic year including those involving spectroscopic data interpretation and main group inorganic chemistry. For first year Chemistry, screencast model answers and feedback were provided in addition to marked class test scripts, but the level of feedback offered on the marked scripts was reduced to only the key points and uncommon errors, and students were directed to consult the screencast model answer feedback.  
Screencasts were well received by the students with most rating them equal to or better than written, individual feedback. 
In particular, the opportunity to watch and see the problem solving strategy was identified as particularly useful:
“I found the video feedback to be very helpful.  It allowed me to look at my answers in the comfort of my own home, without using up valuable problem class / lecture time.  [The] commentary highlighted some points that would not have been easily conveyed in writing alone.” – First Year Student
Please see below for a more video of Dr Katherine Haxton explaining more