Audio and Video Grading
Grading can feel like a very solitary activity, as well as a one-way mode of communication. While a few students in a course may respond to your feedback if they take issue with the grade, the majority of students are unlikely to reach out, which begs the question: do students read the feedback that instructors place on their assigned work? In another article, we focus on ways to develop a feedback loop for the assessments in your course, but for this article, we explore audio and video grading which can be effective ways to encourage students to listen to feedback.
In their research on students' responses to grading modalities, Jessica S. Kruger and Todd Sage learned that the students in their study "felt that the quality, ability to understand information, helpfulness, accessibility, and ease of making changes of video grading were better than written feedback provided in the course, and video grading created trust between the student and the instructor" (407).
Assessment as Connection
Some teaching modalities lend themselves naturally to connection: in person, hybrid, and even synchronous instruction allow students to get to know you and each other well. This connection is particularly useful when it comes time to provide feedback on assignments. If you have created a solid working relationship with your students, they are more likely to read your feedback and to incorporate it into their subsequent course work.
In asynchronous learning environments, where you are unlikely to interact with students beyond discussion posts or the occasional video conference, it is more likely that there will be less of a connection. As a result, the feedback you provide may seem impersonal or can even be ignored in a virtual setting.
Moreover, regardless of modality, students can be intimidated by red-pen comments on an essay or point deductions on a rubric. Audio and video grading practices allow you to convey an encouraging tone and to explain, in a concise manner, complicated advice.
Audio and video grading have an added benefit for instructors, especially those who grade long assignments: once you learn the basics, it is much less laborious to record a short audio or video assessment than it is to write comments by hand or to add comments to a digital document.
Getting Started with Audio or Video Grading
There are two steps to employ audio or video grading: learning the technology and developing an effective feedback practice.
Audio and Video Grading Technology
Elearning Audio/Video Grading
WMU's Elearning system has embedded audio and video grading features in the Dropbox folder that enable you to read a student's assignment, make a recording or video, save it, and make it viewable to each student.
In the file a student submits, the text appears on the left, along with tools that can be used to mark up the text. Short comments can be placed in the box on the right:
Underneath the comment box, you can select Audio or Video grading from the menu:
The advantage to this system is that everything can be done in one place, and once you save the recording, you are finished.
However, at this point in its development, the Elearning mark-up function is a little clunky, and it is not possible to scroll through the student's document while you are recording your commentary. For that reason, we recommend using this feature for short, low stakes assignments rather than longer papers or projects.
Webex Audio/Video Grading
Another option is to start a Webex meeting, share the student's assignment on the screen, select record, and then scroll through the student's assignment while recording an audio voiceover or a video split screen recording. Of course, you could also record yourself marking up the assignment, but that would only work for a very short submission because the goal is to save time for you while also providing the student with feedback that is helpful and brief. The best practice is to mark up the assignment beforehand with short notations, and then record your advice. Once you have finished the recording, you can save the file, upload it to Mediasite, and provide the student with a link to the video.
The Webex method is more time-consuming than recording in the Elearning system because you need to process the video and paste the link into the Elearning file or into an email. If you have made notes on the paper or test itself, then you would also want to place that in the file. Despite these extra steps, Webex grading offers the student a more seamless viewing experience.
If you want to limit the timeframe that a student has access to the video, you can set that limitation in Mediasite.
Effective Feedback Processes
Audio or video grading does require that you read through and assess a student's work prior to engaging in the recording. However, rather than writing extensive notes on the assignment itself, instructors can develop a notation system. For instance, as you go through the assignment, you can place a number next to a place where you would like to provide advice, and either type a few words on the paper or test itself or make a short reference note on a separate file that you can use as a script. That way, the student can follow along with your comments.
If you are assessing a performance, recital, or lab method, you can take notes during the session and then record your commentary afterwards.
Benefits and Limitations
Perhaps the greatest advantage to audio/video grading is that it allows an instructor to speak directly to their student, using a tone that has the potential to alter the way that the student perceives the feedback process. By offering thoughtful advice in a conversational tone, an instructor can go a long way to removing the apprehension with which some students approach receiving graded work. When a student hears or sees their instructor offering advice, they may feel more of a connection and may be more likely to get in touch if they have remaining questions or want to explore a new idea or methodology.
For those instructors who are comfortable recording audio/video files and who find the act of writing out detailed comments and explanations on students' work to be physically and emotionally draining, recording a short audio clip or video clip can be a great option.
However, as Patrick R. Lowenthal points out in a recent study, "Effective video feedback requires strong communication skills as well as a comfort level with being recorded, a quiet place to record…, technical skills, and finally the time to do it (which can be challenging for high enrollment courses)" (130).
If you would like to learn more about recording audio and video clips in Elearning or via Webex, contact the WMUx Instructional Technology Center.
- Borup, Jered, Richard E. West, and Rebecca Thomas. "The Impact of Text Versus Video Communication on Instructor Feedback in Blended Courses." Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 63, 2015, pp. 161-184.
- Mahoney, Paige, et al. "A Qualitative Synthesis of Video Feedback in Higher Education." Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 24, no. 2, 2019, pp. 157–79.
- McCarthy, Josh. "Evaluating Written, Audio and Video Feedback in Higher Education Summative Assessment Tasks." Issues in Educational Research, vol. 25, no. 2, 2015, pp. 153.
- Schilling, Walter. "Improving Student Understanding with Video Grading." The Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education, Springer International Publishing, 2015, pp. 193–99.
- Kruger, Jessica S., and Todd Sage. "Video Grading: Enhancing Clarity and Connection." Journal of Educational Technology Systems, vol. 48, no. 3, 2020, pp. 407-415.
- Lowenthal, Patrick R. "Video Feedback: Is It Worth the Effort? A Response to Borup et Al." Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 69, no. 1, 2020, pp. 127–31.