Creating screen-casts to support students with using Microsoft Excel

Gita Persand – Henley Business School

Link back to case studies on the T and L Exchange website

Overview

The main motivation for me to use personal capture was to create short videos (lasting six to seven minutes)explaining various financial concepts in Excel. I teach Financial Modelling (a practical hands-on module, taught in a computer lab) to Part 2 students, for which I created the videos using the Mediasite software. I then uploaded theto Blackboard (via a video library) for this module. I was consulting with colleagues working with me on using personal capture along with students while undertaking this task, and received strong constructive feedback from students regarding their increased understanding and the usefulness of the videos as revision materialsResponses to the survey I sent out were also highly positive with students strongly agreeing with the positive aspects of this project. 

Objectives

My objectives during the personal capture pilot project were:  

  • To enable students to go back to the videos as often as they want. There are lots of small steps involved in Excel, in the process to answering a numerical question – so students can catch-up on concepts they missed or did not understand the first-time round.
  • To allow students to watch the videos as revision guide/tool. 
  • To facilitate group projects – these videos can be accessed and watched by all members of the group, hence avoiding any misunderstanding of the process. 
  • To support students who wanted to get ahead of the lectures by giving them the opportunity to look at the videos beforehand. 
  • To encourage students to self-study and hence, become more independent learners. 

Context

Financial Modelling is an applied module, involving the use of Excel for its implementation. There are many steps involved in the computation of a financial model, hence personal capture is very helpful as it allows the students to get greater control of their learning e.g. pausing the videos and re-watching relevant parts.

Part 2 students made a request at our SSLC meeting (in December 2018) to have recordings for my module (IC206 Financial Modelling) – for reasons such as accessing the Excel explanations when attempting tutorials questions and for revising. However, there is currently no such facility in our Dealing Room where I teach this module. At the same time, staff were being invited to apply for this Personal Capture Pilot scheme which I thought would be brilliant for my module. 

During the lectures, I had to go and see/help students individually at their computers when they were stuck on certain features – which would sometimes mean that I might not finish the lecture on time. Hopefully, with the availability of these videos beforehand, this problem might not occur.  

Implementation

Following a bumpy start getting set up, I found the process of recording very straight forward. I followed TEL’s step-by-step guidance on Blackboard about how to do the recordings (on My Mediasite) and transferring the videos into the Video Library where students can access them. 

There were no students involved in the actual making of those videos but having spoken to them (in person) about this project, my opinion was that they would absolutely love this concept. From the student survey I sent out, one of the respondents claimed that he/she is jealous of the future cohort having access to these video resources!  

Impact

Though the response rate to the student evaluation survey was not very high, given the time of year they received it, everybody who filled in the survey had only positive comments.

The results from the survey were extremely positive, with students strongly agreeing as a result of having access to the screen-cast videos with (1) improved revision notes, (2) increased understanding of the materials, (3) engaging videos and lessons, (4) appropriate communications, (5) greater control of learning, (6) useful tool for catching-up, (7) complementing lecture notes and (8) discussions with peers as a result, among others. Students also mentioned that they are highly likely to watch those videos again. I also got a comment that this will not stop them coming to see me on an individual basis – which is good because the videos are not a substitute for this.

Based on the above initial comments, I would say that my objectives were met. As the response rate to my survey was not high, I did not receive any unexpected outcomes. I would expect more and positive feedback when I repeat this work with students next year.

I have been working with a small number of HBS colleague as co-partners on the project to help support them to use Mediasite for personal capture. Many colleagues in the Henley Business School are aware of the pilot project and interested by the potential in using screen-cast videos, contact hours with students might be reduced prior to tests, coursework deadlines and exams as students can refer to video support materials. Based on my conversations, many are keen to adopt personal capture once it is made available to all staff.

Reflections

The first challenge was to install the Mediasite software on my personal computer. I found it hard to set-up and I had to get the IT team involved – this was not very straightforward. However, once the software was installed and running, the whole process of creating videos and making them available on Blackboard was plain-sailing. Lots of detailed guidance was given by the TEL team on Blackboard.

The personal capture pilot project started in December 2018/January 2019 and I created these videos for a Part 2 module which takes place in the autumn term. This meant that I could not get a response from the initially targeted cohort. Ideally, I should have done this project for a module which I teach over the spring term – in this way I would have received contemporaneous feedback from the required audience.

The main challenge for using personal capture is to engage students, to ensure that students take the opportunities to watch the videos and gain knowledge from the process. I should have a good idea about this next year as an early adopter of the technology.

Follow up

I did not send the evaluation survey to the current students who were studying for the module (for whom the videos were made) this academic year. Hence, I would like to introduce this Personal Capture project to the Part 2 students during the autumn term of the 2019-2020 academic year and ask for them to complete a survey. One strategy for its evolution might be that the students would watch the basic Excel videos before the lectures – freeing some time at the end for attempting some of the tutorial questions.

Creating a screen-cast to support students posting to a blog

Elisabeth Koenigshofer – School of Literature & Languages

Link back to case studies on the T and L Exchange website

Overview

As part of the Personal Capture Pilot Project, I had many ideas to create videos for my students to enhance their learning. Eventually, I created one video that students could refer to if they needed support when adding a post to a blog on Blackboard, which was one of their tasks in their first year German language course. 

Objectives

  • Help students understand class content more easily 
  • Provide reference material for students 
  • Help absent students to catch up with class content 
  • Provide a different format for content than usual, engaging a wider variety of learner types 
  • Use an audio-visual format to provide a multi-sensual learning experience (visual, aural, written text) 

Context

I thought that screen-casts would be a great idea to add another format to my teaching portfolio when teaching German language courses. I had the idea that students at all levels, but especially on lower levels (language levels A2-B1), would like to engage with videos and that this format would make it easier for students to understand and revise class content. Also, the combination of different aspects should help students; the added aural component helps students to familiarise themselves with spoken German which is part of their learning process. They can pause and replay and see how much they understand. 

Implementation

I recorded my video without student involvement because I wanted it to be a reference for students before they set out to create their blog posts. Before producing this video, I tried to create some trial videos to make sure that I was comfortable with the situation and that I had prepared what I was going to say to help stay clear and focused.  

We had a workshop at MERL about the museum and the tourists that are attracted to visit it. I put the blog support video online simultaneously to ensure that students who couldn’t attend the workshop would know what to do and that those who were at the MERL would be able to go back to the information, in case there were questions on how to complete the task.  

In the video, I went through the step-by-step process of creating a blog post in Blackboard. This way, it was very clear how the task should be completed and which options were available to the students (e.g. add a picture/audio file or a link). 

Impact

The video was made available to 27 students who were part of the course. Out of these 27, 7 viewed the video anonymously. The longest view time covered the video’s full view time while the shortest lasted for less than half a minute. The viewers were anonymous because I embedded the video into Blackboard and thus the viewer data was not retrieved. This might mean that 7 students watched parts of the video and it helped them with their tasks. Most students completed the task successfully but I cannot tell for sure whether or not that was due to the video as there was no feedback other than the statistics. I think that there might have been a chance to increase views of the video if I had pointed students more often in the direction of it. I made students aware of the video in class and I think that it would have increased views if I had also made one or several Blackboard announcements. 

Reflections

I really enjoyed creating my video and I think the format has a lot of potential. However, I think I would want to invest more time in creating a screen cast videos which I did not have this year due to circumstances. In general, I think the biggest challenges are to plan a video effectively and to record it in one go without too many glitches. The Mediasite tool is easy to use for recording and is capable of some editing, but in order to create a smooth video, I think that it is helpful to have it mapped it out properly beforehand and to dedicate more time to the video creation.  

Follow up

In the future, I will use the video format for preparatory tasks and prepare questions to accompany the videos so that students can engage better with them. Currently, I am preparing audio-only material for students that comes with specific listening tasks which are then part of the personal capture and should help students to improve their listening skills. 

Creating screen-casts to enable students to catch up

Jo Stringer – Henley Business School (Real Estate & Planning)

Link back to case studies on the T and L Exchange website

Overview

I created catch-up screen-casts for the first two live sessions of my postgraduate Law module. These enabled students to catch-up live sessions missed.  The screen-casts were accessed by 25% of the students and the feedback was very positive. Key finding: the students want more recorded versions of live sessions. They seem satisfied with simple, basic screen-casts plus audio.

Objectives

  • Create screen-casts of early module material;
  • Aim to create screen-casts that:
    • are concise and engaging;
    • enable the students to catch-up flexibly but efficiently;
    • do not just repeat the live lecture.  Create a different resource which takes advantage of the online environment.

Context

I teach on the REMF54 module: Property Law with 48 students. Attendance is problematic in the initial weeks of the module.  Students are invited to Employer Assessment Centres which clash with live sessions. Since important foundation concepts are covered in the early sessions, I wanted to create an engaging and effective resource to encourage the students to take responsibility for catching-up, in addition to the “static” materials already provided (lecture slides, workshop materials, supplementary course text reading etc.).  I also wanted the students to catch-up in “course-time”, rather than leaving it until the end of the module: screen-casts could be a less intimidating/more manageable route into achieving this.

Implementation

I began by editing the live session slides with the intention of creating bite-sized screen-casts.  This proved tricky since the material is complex and hard to prioritise. Ultimately, I decided to create 3 approx. 15 min. screen-casts, dealing with the learning outcomes independently, for each of 2 live sessions. I wrote a script to ensure I retained focus and clarity.

I introduced recap quizzes to keep learning active.  Whilst recording, I encouraged the students to pause the recording to write down answers to the quizzes.  I revealed the answers at the end of each recording.

No students were involved in the recordings but, as I created the screen-casts after the live delivery, I ensured I dealt with questions and areas of difficulty that arose from class.

I recorded the screen-casts using the slideshow plus audio option and made use of simple edit functions where necessary, mainly cutting and fading in/out before uploading to Blackboard.

Impact

The screen-casts were used by 25% of the cohort. Most of the students accessed the screen-casts for Sessions 1 and 2 at the same time, two weeks after Session 1 was delivered live.  This was unexpected as I had anticipated the students would have left catching-up until immediately prior to the assessment.  The Session 2 screen-casts attracted fewer views than Session 1 and there were drop-off points in the final two Session 2 screen-casts at the mid-point which are not evident for Session 1 (see screenshots below).  This may indicate “screen-cast fatigue” which could increase if more were produced.

Student views for the session 1 part 1 screen-cast

Image showing student views of session 1 part 1 screen-cast

Student views for the session 2 part 3 screen-cast

Image showing student views of session 2 part 3 screen-cast

Students’ feedback from evaluation survey – Statements about the screen-casts attracting strong agreement:

  • allowed students to catch up: 85%;
  • increased knowledge and understanding: 92%;
  • control of own learning: 100%.

Reflections

The feedback indicates that the screen-casts were valued and considered effective.  The screen-casts were, in my view, quite rough and ready: it was a challenge to create an engaging product in the time available.  I could have made greater use of the online environment by, for example, thinking more explicitly about how I was explaining things to a listener and developing the slides to make them more visual.  In any event, this does not appear to have filtered through into the feedback with 76% of students agreeing or strongly agreeing that the screen-casts were engaging.

Follow up

I have made a screen-cast on a particularly complex topic as an exam resource for my undergraduate module.  The question on this topic was the second most popular choice in the exam and the average mark was the second highest rising from 50% last year to 55% this year.  I have also used personal capture to record a Powtoon video I created.

Developing Diversity and Inclusion teaching: The importance of D&I and Ethical Practice

Dr Allán Laville, Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, a.laville@reading.ac.uk

Overview

In the training of Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs), teaching must include a focus on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) as well how this relates to ethical practice. Therefore, I created a 15-minute screencast that tied key D&I principles to clinical practice, with a particular focus on ethical practice within this area.

Objectives

  1. To support students in being aware of key D&I and ethical principles and how these principles relate to their clinical practice.
  2. To support students in writing a 500-word reflective piece on the importance of considering D&I in their ethically-sound, clinical practice.

Context

PWP programmes include D&I training within the final module of the clinical programme, but to meet the British Psychological Society (BPS) programme standards, D&I training needs to be incorporated throughout. Furthermore, this training should be tied to the BPS programme standard on Ethical Practice teaching (Module PY3EAA1/PYMEAA).

Implementation

The first step was to identify the key sources to include within the screencast. These were wide ranging from legislation (Equality Act, 2010), positive practice guides (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) and ethical practice guidelines (British Psychological Society) and reference to the University’s Fitness to Practise policy.

The second step was to think about how students could engage with the screencast in a meaningful way. Based on an earlier T&L Exchange project report of mine (https://sites.reading.ac.uk/t-and-l-exchange/2019/07/23/developing-innovative-teaching-the-importance-of-reflective-practice/), I wanted to include an element of reflective practice. Students were asked to write a 500-word reflective piece on their own take-home points from the screencast and preferably, following the Rolfe, Freshwater, and Jasper (2001) reflective model of: a) what is being considered, b)  so what, which I say to my students is the ‘why care?’ part! And c) now what i.e. from reviewing what and so what, detailing your SMART action plan for future clinical practice.

Example by Will Warley, Part 3 MSci Applied Psychology (Clinical) student.

Impact

The student feedback about the screencast and completing the reflective piece has been very positive. This has been across both the MSci in Applied Psychology (Clinical) as well as the Charlie Waller Institute (CWI), PG (Cert) in Evidence-Based Psychological Treatments (IAPT Pathway). The training materials have also been shared with members of the SPCLS Board of Studies for CWI training programmes.

In regard to national level impact, I have presented this innovative approach to D&I teaching at the BPS Programme Liaison Day, which included the BPS PWP Training Committee and Programme Directors from across the UK. The presentation was received very well including requests to disseminate the materials that we use in the teaching at UoR. Therefore, these materials have now been circulated to all PWP training providers in the UK to inform their D&I provision.

Reflections

One core reason for the success of this activity was the commitment and creativity of our students! Some students used software to create excellent mind maps, interactive presentations or a YouTube video! There was even an Instagram account used to illustrate the main take-home points from the screencast, which I thought was particularly innovative. Overall, I was absolutely delighted to see such high levels of student engagement with topics that are so important – both personally and professionally.

In regard to better implementation, it is possible that slightly more guidance could have been provided regarding how to approach the reflective task, but the brief of ‘be as creative as possible!’ worked very well indeed!

Follow up

I will be following up with the BPS PWP Training Committee in 2020 to see how this activity has developed within other PWP training providers! We will then create a summary of all innovative approaches to including D&I in PWP programmes and how these meet the programme standards.

Links

https://my.cumbria.ac.uk/media/MyCumbria/Documents/ReflectiveModelRolfe.pdf

Student YouTube video as submission on reflective task: https://youtu.be/hMU6F_dknP4

Electronic Management of Assessment: Creation of an e-Portfolio for PWP training programmes

Tamara Wiehe, Charlotte Allard & Hayley Scott (PWP Clinical Educators)

Charlie Waller Institute; School of Psychology and Clinical Language

Overview

In line with the University’s transition to Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA), we set out to create an electronic Portfolio (e-Portfolio) for use on our Psychological Well-being Practitioner (PWP) training programmes to replace an existing hard-copy format. The project spanned almost 1 year (October 2018- September 2019) as we took the time to consider the implications on students, supervisors in our IAPT NHS services, University administrators and markers. Working closely with the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team led us to a viable solution that has been launched with our new cohorts from September 2019.

Image of portfolio template cover sheet

Objectives

  • Create an electronic Portfolio in line with EMA that overcomes existing issues and improves the experience for students, NHS supervisors, administrators and markers.
  • Work collaboratively with our all key stakeholders to ensure that the new format satisfies their various needs.

Context

A national requirement for PWPs is to complete a competency-based assessment in the form of a Portfolio that spans across their three modules of their training. Our students are employed by NHS services across the South of England and many live close to their service rather than the University.

The issue? The previous hard-copy format meant that students spent time and money printing their work and travelling to the University to submit/re-submit it. University administrators and markers reported issues with transporting the folders to markers and storing them, especially with the larger cohorts.

The solution… To resolve these issues by transitioning to an electronic version of the Portfolio.

Implementation

  1. October 2018: An initial meeting with TEL was held in order to discuss the practicalities of an online Portfolio submission.
  2. October 2018 – March 2019: TEL created several prototypes of options for submission via Blackboard including the use of the journal tool and a zip file. Due to practicalities, the course team decided on a single-file word document template.
  3. April – May 2019: Student focus groups were conducted with both programmes (undergraduate and postgraduate) where the same assessment sits to gain their feedback with the potential solution we had created. Using the outcomes of the focus groups and staff meetings, it was unanimously agreed that the proposed solution was a viable option for use with our future cohorts.
  4. June 2019: TEL delivered a training session for staff and admin to become familiar with the process from both student and staff perspective. TEL also created a guidance document for administrators on how to set up the assignment on Blackboard.
  5. July – August 2019: Materials including the template and rubrics were amended and formatted in order to meet requirements for online submission for both MSci and PWP courses. Resources were also created for students to access on Blackboard such as screen casts on how to access, utilise and submit the Portfolio using the electronic format; the aim of this is to improve accessibility for all students participating on the course.
  6. September 2019: Our IAPT services were notified of the changes as the supervisors there are responsible for reviewing and ‘signing off’ on the student’s performance before the Portfolio is submitted to the University for a final check.

Image of 'how to' screen cast resources on Blackboard

Impact

Thus far, the project has achieved the objectives it set out to. The template for submission is now available for students to complete throughout their training course. This will modernise the submission process and be less burdensome for the students, supervisors, administrators and markers.

Image of the new portfolio process

The students in the focus group reported that this would significantly simplify the process and relieve the barriers they often reported with completing and submitting the Portfolio. Currently, there have not been any unexpected outcomes with the development of the Portfolio. However, we aim to review the process with the first online Portfolio submission in June 2020.

Reflections

Upon reflection, the development of the online Portfolio has so far been a success. Following student feedback, we listened to what would improve their experience of completing the Portfolio. From this we developed an online Portfolio, meeting the requirements across two BPS accredited courses which will be used for future cohorts of students.

Additionally, the collaboration between staff, students and the TEL team, has led to improved communication across teams with new ideas shared; this is something we have continued to incorporate into our teaching and learning projects.

An area to develop for the future, would be to utilise a specific Portfolio software. Initially, we wanted to use a journal tool on Blackboard, however, it was not suitable to meet the needs of the course (most notably exporting the submission and mark sheet to external parties). We will continue to review these options and will continue to gain feedback from future cohorts.

 

Reframing Identity 360

Kate Allen, Department of Art, k.allen@reading.ac.uk

Overview

An investigative artwork that explores identity using 360 cameras developed through practical, alumni led workshops and socially engaged art with current art students, school groups and the general public. Part of ArtLab Movement’ at Tate Exchange (TEx) 2019 at the Tate Modern on March and be archived on the ArtLab website.

Objectives

- Contribute to live art event/out-reach work experience led by Alumni at Tate Exchange 1-3 March 2019

- Explore identity capture with 360 cameras

- 360 cameras experimentation including designing, capturing, printing and editing.

- Create portraits with purpleSTARS, people with learning disabilities and children from Widening Participation schools in Reading.

Context

Reframing Identity explored self-portraits in shot in 360, developed as a response to Tania Bruguera’s Turbine Hall Commission concerning institutional power, borders and migration. Can 360 self-portraits raise awareness of how interconnected we are, when no person is ever behind the 360 camera, everyone is included.

Implementation

Alumni and Virtual Reality artist Kassie Headon researched ideas in response to Tania Bruguera installation at Tate Modern inspired by Bruguera’s ideas on inclusion, connecting to Kate Allen’s research with purpleSTARS a group of people with and with learning disabilities who aim to make museums more inclusive. Kassie demonstrated to students and purpleSTARS how to use the GoPro Fusion Camera and the app to edit 360 content. Activities to share the 360 self portrait concept with visitors were developed including drawing cylindrical self-portraits which they could then wear on their heads for a 360 selfie. Students facilitated the Reframing Identity 360 workshop as part of ArtLab Movement at TEx. Using 360 cameras was a new experience and concept for our students and most people visiting the TEx. The 360 self-portraits were exhibited via live video stream from the 360 cameras on an iPad displayed at the Tate and let participants explore the views, which they could manipulate and distort to create the desired effect. Participants 360 self-portraits were also printed or sent to the visitors phone.

Impact

The impact of Reframing Identity 360 created access and inclusion with new technologies for students and the public. Experiencing the live video stream frequently gave visitors an ‘Oh Wow’ moment. TEx gave an opportunity for research led teaching with Dr Allen purpleSTARS, Alumni Kassie Headon and current BA students to explore the concept of 360 self-portraits gain professional practice experience facilitating the workshops and technical skills working, with the 360 camera. The 360 cameras are now part of the digital equipment available to students with a core team of ArtLab students now familiar with their potential and how to use them.

Reflections

Working with new technologies in collaboration with Alumni, ArtLab students and purpleSTARS led to new perspectives on ideas of inclusion and self -portraiture. The experimental research occurred in response to work at the Tate and in collaboration with visitors to TEx. The project built capacity and awareness of new technology being introduced into the Art Dept learning through research and practical experiences the potential to create artworks and inclusive engagements.

Follow up

Kassie Headen continued to work with the 360 camera collaborating with widening participation schools during the ArtLab summer workshops 2019 exploring spaces and manipulating 2d versions of 3d space.

We are developing further research collaborations and research led teaching opportunities for ideas exploring inclusion in museums and immersive virtual reality artworks/experiences using Oculus Rift technology.

Links and References

We created a 360 recording of our Reframing Identity event at the Tate https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1158753748827242499?autoplay=0&autorotate=0&displaytitle=1&rel=1

ArtLab documents the workshop

https://readingartlab.com/2019/04/25/artlab-tate-exchange-visual-diary-2nd-and-3rd-march-2019/

purpleSTARS web documentation

https://purplestars.org.uk/2017/11/12/purplestars-at-tate-gallery-2018/

Tate Exchange webpage

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/tate-exchange/workshop/reading-assembly-movement

Improving assessment writing and grading skills through the use of a rubric – Dr Bolanle Adebola

Dr Bolanle Adebola is the Module Convenor and lecturer for the following modules on the LLM Programme (On campus and distance learning):

International Commercial Arbitration, Corporate Governance, and Corporate Finance. She is also a Lecturer for the LLB Research Placement Project.

Bolanle is also the Legal Practice Liaison Officer for the CCLFR.

A profile photo of Dr Adebola

OBJECTIVES

For students:

• To make the assessment criteria more transparent and understandable.
• To improve assessment output and essay writing skills generally.

For the teacher:

• To facilitate assessment grading by setting clearly defined criteria.
• To facilitate the feedback process by creating a framework for dialogue which is understood both by the teacher and the student.

CONTEXT

I faced a number of challenges in relation to the assessment process in my first year as a lecturer:

• My students had not performed as well as I would have liked them to in their assessments.

• It was my first time of having to justify the grades I had awarded and I found that I struggled to articulate clearly and consistently the reasons for some of the grades I had awarded.

• I had been newly introduced to the step-marking framework for distinction grades as well as the requirement to make full use of the grading scale which I found challenging in view of the quality of some of the essays I had graded.

I spoke to several colleagues but came to understand that there were as many approaches as there were people. I also discussed the assessment process with several of my students and came to understand that many were both unsure and unclear about the criteria by which their assessments were graded across their modules.
I concluded that I needed to build a bridge between my approach to assessment grading and my students’ understanding of the assessment criteria. Ideally, the chosen method would facilitate consistency and the provision of feedback on my part, and improve the quality of essays on my students’ part.

IMPLEMENTATION

I tend towards the constructivist approach to learning which means that I structure my activities towards promoting student-led learning. For summative assessments, my students are required to demonstrate their understanding and ability to critically appraise legal concepts that I have chosen from our sessions in class. Hence, the main output for all summative assessments on my modules is an essay. Wolf and Stevens (2007) assert that learning is best achieved where all the participants in the process are clear about the criteria for the performance and the levels at which it will be assessed. My goal therefore became to ensure that my students understood the elements I looked for in their essays; these being the criteria against which I graded the essays. They also had to understand how I decided the standards that their essays reflected. While the student handbook sets out the various standards that we apply in the University, I wanted to provide clearer direction on how they could meet or how I determine that an essay meets any of those standards.

If the students were to understand the criteria I apply when grading their essays, then I would have to articulate them. Articulating the criteria for a well-written essay would benefit both myself and my students. For my students, in addition to a clearer understanding of the assessment criteria, it would enable them to self-evaluate which would improve the quality of their output. Improved quality would lead to improved grades and I could give effect to university policy. Articulating the criteria would benefit me because it would facilitate consistency. It would also enable me to give detailed and helpful feedback to students on the strengths and weaknesses of the essays being graded, as well as on their essay writing skills in general; with advice on how to improve different facets of their outputs going forward. Ultimately, my students would learn valuable skills which they could apply across board and after they graduate.
For assessments which require some form of performance, essays being an example, a rubric is an excellent evaluation tool because it fulfils all the requirements I have expressed above. (Brookhart, 2013). Hence, I decided to present my grading criteria and standards in the form of a rubric.

The rubric is divided into 5 criteria which are set out in 5 rows:

  • Structure
  • Clarity
  • Research
  • Argument
  • Scholarship.

For each criterion, there are 4 performance levels which are set out in columns: Poor, Good, Merit and Excellent. An essay will be mapped along each row and column. The final marks will depend on how the student has performed on each criterion, as well as my perception of the output as a whole.

Studies suggest that a rubric is most effective when produced in collaboration with the students. (Andrade, Du and Mycek, 2010). When I created my rubric, I did not involve my students, however. I thought that would not be necessary given that my rubric was to be applied generally and with changing cohorts of students. Notwithstanding, I wanted students to engage with it. So, the document containing the rubric has an introduction addressed to the students, which explains the context in which the rubric has beencreated. It also explains how the rubric is applied and the relationship between the criteria. It states for example, that ‘even where the essay has good arguments, poor structure may undermine its score’. It explains that the final grade combines but objective assessment and a subjective evaluation of the output as a whole which is based on the marker’s discretion.

To ensure that students are not confused about the standards set out in the rubric and the assessment standards set out in the students’ handbook, the performance levels set out in the rubric are mapped against the assessment standards set out in the student handbook. The document containing the rubric also contains links to the relevant handbook. Finally, the rubric gives the students an example of how it would be applied to an assessment. Thereafter, it sets out the manner in which feedback would be presented to the students. That helps me create a structure in which feedback would be provided and which both the students and I would understand clearly.

IMPACT

My students’ assessment outputs have been of much better quality and so have achieved better grades since I introduced the rubric. In one of my modules, the average grade, as recorded in the module convenor’s report to the external examiner (MC’s Report), 2015/16, was 64.3%. 20% of the class attained distinctions, all in the 70-79 range. That year, I struggled to give feedback and was asked to provide additional feedback comments to a few students. In 2016/17, after I introduced the rubric, there was a slight dip in the average mark to 63.7%. The dip was because of a fail mark amongst the cohort. If that fail mark is controlled for, then the average percentage had crept up from 2015/16. There was a clear increase in the percentage of distinctions, which had gone up to
25.8% from 20% in the previous year. The cross-over had been

from the students who had been in the merit range. Clearly, some students had been able to use the rubric to improve the standards of their essays. I found the provision of feedback much easier in 2016/17 because I had clear direction from the rubric. When giving feedback I explained both the strengths and weaknesses of the essay in relation to each criterion. My hope was that they would apply the advice more generally across other modules as the method of assessment is the same across board. In 2017/18, the average mark for the same module went up to 68.84%. 38% of the class attained distinctions; with 3% attaining more than 80%. Hence, in my third year, I have also been able to utilise step-marking in the distinction grade which has enabled me to meet the university’s policy.

When I introduced the rubric in 2016/17, I had a control module, by which I mean a module in which I neither provided the rubric nor spoke to the students about their assessments in detail. The quality of assessments from that module was much lower than the others where the students had been introduced to the rubric. In that year, the average grade for the control module was 60%; with 20% attaining a distinction and 20% failing. In 2017/18, while I did not provide the students with the rubric, I spoke to them about the assessments. The average grade for the control module was 61.2%; with 23% attaining a distinction. There was a reduction in the failure rate to 7.6%. The distinction grade also expanded, with 7.6% attaining a higher distinction grade. There was movement both from the failure grade and the pass grade to the next standard/performance level. Though I did not provide the students with the rubric, I still provided feedback to the students using the rubric as a guide. I have found that it has become ingrained in me and is a very useful tool for explaining the reasons for my grades to my students.

From my experience, I can assert, justifiably, that the rubric has played a very important role in improving the students’ essay outputs. It has also enabled me to improve my feedback skills immensely.

REFLECTIONS

I have observed that as the studies in the field argue, it is insufficient merely to have a rubric. For the rubric to achieve the desired objectives, it is important that students actively engage with it. I must admit, that I did not take a genuinely constructivist approach to the rubric. I wanted to explain myself to the students. I did not really encourage a 2-way conversation as the studies encourage and I think this affected the effectiveness of the rubric.

In 2017/18, I decided to talk the students through the rubric, explaining how they can use it to improve performance. I led them through the rubric in the final or penultimate class. During the session, I explained how they might align their essays with the various performance levels/standards. I gave them insights into some of the essays I had assessed in the previous two years; highlighting which practices were poor and which were best. By the end of the autumn term, the first module in which I had both the rubric and an explanation of its application in class saw a huge improvement in student output as set out in the section above. The results have been the best I have ever had. As the standards have improved, so have the grades. As stated above, I have been able to achieve step-marking in the distinction grade while improving standards generally.

I have also noticed that even where a rubric is not used but the teacher talks to the students about the assessments and their expectations of them, students perform better than where there is no conversation at all. In 2017/18, while I did not provide the rubric to the control-module, I discussed the assessment with the students, explaining practices which they might find helpful. As demonstrated above, there was lower failure rate and improvement generally across board. I can conclude therefore that assessment criteria ought to be explained much better to students if their performance is to improve. However, I think that having a rubric and student engagement with it is the best option.

I have also noticed that many students tend to perform well; in the merit bracket. These students would like to improve but are unable to decipher how to do so. These students, in particular, find the rubric very helpful.

In addition, Wolf and Stevens (2007) observe that rubrics are particularly helpful for international students whose assessment systems may have been different, though no less valid, from that of the system in which they have presently chosen to study. Such students struggle to understand what is expected of them and so, may fail to attain the best standards/performance levels that they could for lack of understanding of the assessment practices. A large proportion of my students are international, and I think that they have benefitted from having the rubric; particularly when they are invited to engage with it actively.

Finally, the rubric has improved my feedback skills tremendously. I am able to express my observations and grades in terms well understood both by myself and my students. The provision of feedback is no longer a chore or a bore. It has actually become quite enjoyable for me.

FOLLOW UP

On publishing the rubric to students:

I know that blackboard gives the opportunity to embed a rubric within each module. I have only so far uploaded copies of my rubric onto blackboard for the students on each of my modules. I have decided to explore the blackboard option to make the annual upload of the rubric more efficient. I will also see if the blackboard offers opportunities to improve on the rubric which will be a couple of years old by the end of this academic year.

On the Implementation of the rubric:

I have noted, however, that it takes about half an hour to explain the rubric to students for each module which eats into valuable teaching time. A more efficient method is required to provide good assessment insight to students. This Summer, I will liaise with my colleagues, as the examination officer, to discuss the provision of a best practice session for our students in relation to their assessments. At the session, students will also be introduced to the rubric. The rubric can then be paired with actual illustrations which the students can be encouraged to grade using its content. Such sessions will improve their ability to self-evaluate which is crucial both to their learning and the improvement of their outputs.

LINKS

• K. Wolf and E. Stevens (2007) 7(1) Journal of Effective Teaching, 3. https://www.uncw.edu/jet/articles/vol7_1/Wolf.pdf
• H Andrade, Y Du and K Mycek, ‘Rubric-Referenced Self- Assessment and Middle School Students’ Writing’ (2010) 17(2) Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy &Practice, 199 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09695941003 696172?needAccess=true
• S Brookhart, How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading (Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, ASCD, VA, 2013).
• Turnitin, ‘Rubrics and Grading Forms’ https://guides.turnitin.com/01_Manuals_and_Guides/Instru ctor_Guides/Turnitin_Classic_(Deprecated)/25_GradeMark
/Rubrics_and_Grading_Forms
• Blackboard, ‘Grade with Rubrics’ https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Grade/Rubrics
/Grade_with_Rubrics
• Blackboard, ‘Import and Export Rubrics’ https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Grade/Rubrics
/Import_and_Export_Rubrics

Using personal capture to support students to learn practical theory outside of the laboratory

Dr Geraldine (Jay) Mulley – School of Biological Sciences  

Overview

I produced four screen casts to encourage students to better prepare for practical classes and to reinforce practical theory taught in class. Approximately 45% of the cohort watched at least some of the video content, mainly in the few days leading up to the practical assessment. The students appreciated the extra resources, and there was a noticeable improvement in module satisfaction scores.

Objectives

  • To provide consistency in delivery of teaching practical theory between groups led by different practical leaders
  • To provide students with engaging resources to use outside of the classroom, to use as preparation tools for practical classes and as revision aids for the Blackboard-­‐based practical assessment

Context

The Part 1 Bacteriology & Virology module includes 12 hours of practical classes designed to teach students key microbiological techniques and theory. I usually begin each practical with a short lecture-­‐style introduction to explain what they need to do and why.  The 3 hr classes are typically very busy, and I have observed that some students feel overwhelmed with “information overload” and find it hard to assimilate the theory, whilst learning the new techniques.  I have had to schedule multiple runs of practical classes to accommodate the large cohort and my colleagues now teach some of the repeat sessions. My aim was to create a series of videos to explain the theoretical background in more detail that students can access outside of the classroom. I hoped this would ensure consistency in what is taught to each group and give the students more time to focus on learning the techniques during the classes. I hoped that they would use the resources both to help prepare for the classes and as a revision aid for the practical assessment

Implementation

I initially tried to record 4 videos by simply recording myself talking through my original PowerPoint presentations that I use in the practical class introductions (i.e. 4 individual videos to cover each of the 4 practical classes). Having started to make the videos, I realised that it was very difficult for me to explain the theory in this format, which was quite surprising given this is how I had been delivering the information up until that point! I therefore adapted the PowerPoint presentations to make videos focusing on each of the experimental themes, talking through what the students will do in the lab week-­‐by-­‐week with an explanation of the theory at appropriate points. I recorded the video tutorials using the Mediasite “slideshow + audio” option and narrated free-­‐style as I would do in a lecture (no script).  When I made a mistake, I paused for a few seconds and then started the sentence again. After finishing the entire recording, I then used the editing feature to cut out the mistakes, which were easy to identify in the audio trace due to the long pauses. I was also able to move slides to the appropriate place if I had poorly timed the slide transitions. Editing each video took around 30 min to 1 hr. I found it relatively easy to record and edit the videos and I became much more efficient after I had recorded the first few videos.

I would have liked to have asked students and other staff to help in the design and production of the videos, but the timing of the Pilot was not conducive to being able to collaborate at the time.

Impact

Mediasite analytics show 45% of the students in the cohort viewed at least some of the resources, and 17% of the cohort viewed each video more than once. Students watched the three shorter videos (3 – 4 min) in their entirety, but the longest video (18 min) showed a drop-­‐off in the number of views after approx. 5 min (Figure 1), and so in future I will limit my videos to 5 min max.

Graph showing how students watched the video

Only a few students viewed videos prior to practical classes; almost all views were in the few days leading up to the practical assessment on Blackboard. This shows that students were using the videos as a revision aid rather than as a preparation tool. This is probably because I uploaded the videos midway through term and by this stage one of the three groups had already completed the 4 practical classes and so I did not want to disadvantage this group by promoting the videos as a preparation tool. It will be interesting if I can encourage students to use it for this purpose next academic year. My expectation was that time spent viewing would directly correlate with practical assessment grades, however there is not a clear linear correlation (Figure 2).

Graph showing use of videos and grades obtained

For some students attending the practical classes and reading the handbook is enough to achieve a good grade. However, students that spent time viewing the videos did get a higher average than those that did not view any (Figure 3), although this probably reflects overall engagement with all the available learning resources.  Responses to the student survey indicated that students felt the videos improved their understanding of the topic and supported them to revise what they had learnt in class at their own pace.

Graph showing video watching and grades obtained

Reflections

The biggest challenge I faced was trying to recruit other colleagues to the pilot during a very busy Autumn term and finding the time to design the videos myself. It would have been helpful to see some examples of how to use personal capture before I started but having participated in the Pilot, I now have more confidence. Once I had experimented with the Mediasite software, I found it quite easy to record the videos and publish to my Blackboard site (with guidance from the excellent support from the TEL team and Blackboard help web pages). I liked the editing tools, although I would very much like the ability to cut and paste different videos together.  The analytics are very useful and much better than the “track users” function in Blackboard. The analytics reinforced the suggestion that students are much more likely to finish watching short videos and I would advise making videos 5 min maximum, ideally 3 min, in length.    My experience of personal capture was incredibly positive, and I will certainly be making more resources for my students for all my modules.

Follow-up

Since making the recordings for the Pilot, I have teamed up with several colleagues in the School of Biological Sciences and will show them how to use Mediasite so that they can make resources for their modules over summer. I have also used the Mediasite software to record microscope training sessions and talks from open days.

Building bridges and smoothing edges

Patrick Finnegan – School of Economics, Politics & International Relations

Overview

My use of the personal capture scheme was intended to enhance our teaching methods within the department. My initial aims of building additional video capture material into the ongoing lecture series did not come through but I was able to use the capture package to engage my students more in the administration of a (then) overly complicated module.

Objectives

  • Initial plan centred on including personal capture on the Army Higher Education Pathway project – this was not possible due to software incompatibility with the Canvas platform used for the project
  • New objectives were based on a different module (The Study of Politics) and improving the student experience on that module
  • Improve the explanation of methods
  • Explain the supervisory choice system
  • Enhance lectures on complicated topics

Context

The module I focused on was Po2SOP (The Study of Politics) with 160 students. Personal capture was needed on this project as it allowed myself, as convenor of our largest module, to communicate with all of my students in a more engaging way. We needed a way to bring the topic to life and ensure that the students took on board the lessons we needed them to. I wanted to include real examples of the methods in action and to use the screen casts to explain certain decisions that would be too difficult to do via email.

Implementation

Unfortunately, the project began too late in the term to really affect the lectures on this module, which is co-taught between several staff members often using pre-existing slides. However, I was able to use it to engage in discussion with students to explain issues such as supervisor reallocation during the year and how our special event – the mini-conference – was to work. Rather than writing lengthy emails, I was able to quickly and visually explain to he students what was happening and to invite their responses, which some did. They did not engage with the capture material so to speak but my use of it did encourage discussion as to how they would like to see it used in future and how they would like to receive feedback on assessments in future if audio/visual options were available. The recordings made by myself and my colleague were mainly PowerPoint voice-overs or were direct to camera discussions. This allowed us to present the students with illustrations and ‘first hand’ information. These required significant editing to make sure they were suitable but the final product was satisfactory.

Impact

Beyond ‘ease of life’ effects this year, there was not a great deal of impact but this was expected given the start date (the largest number of views in a video was 86, but this was an admin explanation style video). However, planning for next year has already incorporated the different potential advantages provided by personal capture. For example, the same methods module will now incorporate tutorial videos made within the department and will maintain some supervisor ‘adverts’ to allow students to better choose which member of staff they will seek to work with in future. Within other modules, some staff members will be taking the opportunity to build in some flipped classroom style teaching and other time-heavy elements that were not previously available to them.

Reflections

Time needed to organise and direct co-pilots within a teaching-heavy department needed to be a lot greater than I originally planned. I was also not expecting to meet the levels of resistance that I did from some more established staff who were not interested in changing how they delivered the material they had prepared earlier. The major difference I would include going forward would be to focus on upcoming modules rather than pre-existing as incorporating the material when the module has already started was too difficult.

Follow-up

I have started to prepare some videos on material I know will be needed in the future, this is relatively straight forward to do and will mimic the general practice to date. The main evolution will be seen in responses to student need during class and how screen casts can be made on demand and with consistent quality.