video assessment

Making Learning Visible with Video Assessment

In winter 2015, I was given the opportunity to design and teach my department’s first fully online course, in calculus. Some design challenges emerged in the process, not least of which was the question of assessing homework. In a face-to-face class, students either turn in handwritten solutions to online problems or present them orally in class. But how can you have students presenting work to each other when they don’t even meet?

My solution—the only solution that could really work—was to have students present work via recorded video and then put those videos in an accessible place for the rest of the class.

The process worked as follows:

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Punctuating Error: Strategies to Help Students Become More Disciplined Writers

When final paper time looms, students become increasingly anxious about the grammatical errors they believe lurk in their writing. That belief is so strong it can undermine their drafts. Even worse, students have come to expect that their professors will point out errors—and make corrections—that seem invisible to student eyes. Such a learned practice dissuades students from the far more productive work of rewriting sentences that would remove many of those errors just as invisibly.

Helping students learn how to revise and rewrite should be our priority so that their writing becomes more effective and they’re able to eyeball what remaining errors need correcting. Nevertheless, even with that process, some errors persist. For years, I struggled with determining how much instruction to devote to error, how to time such instruction, and where to conduct it—classroom, conference, or paper annotations—so that my efforts would prove more helpful than hurtful.

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Recognizing the Signs of Underpreparedness

Take a few moments to list your top three or four frustrations with students who are not prepared to successfully complete your course—students who almost seem destined to fail your course.

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Journaling Assignment

Students will complete a series of short essays about the idea of fairness in different ethical theories. Students will reflect in writing on the following question: what is fairness or how does this idea contribute to, support or challenge my idea of fairness? Another question students will consider is how a particular ethical theory is or is not fair. Students will be evaluated on the following factors:

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A Multi-Tasking Activity

Select a phrase or question like: AM I A SKILLED MULTITASKER?

Round 1:  Ask students to time themselves writing the A-1, M-2, I-3, A-4, S-5, and so on.  They should alternate between the letters of “Am I a Skilled Multitasker?” and the numbers 1-23 in sequence. This round simulates the effects of brain switching, as participants are forced to switch between sequencing letters and numbers.

Round 2:  Ask students to time themselves as they write the phrase “Am I a skilled multitasker?” immediately followed by writing the numbers 1-23.  The second round result should look like this:

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The BIG Questions Assignment

This assignment gets students thinking about and revealing questions and issues of importance to them.

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The Classic Movies Come to Class

If you are a professor of a certain age, you may have had the experience that I had in my first semester of teaching. I asked, “Who’s seen Norma Rae?” (I wanted to use it to illustrate that working in a mill causes hearing loss.) “Who’s seen Young Frankenstein?” (I wanted to highlight the Abby Normal brain.) The response from students was “Huh?” Today’s students haven’t seen the same movies most of us have, and they don’t seem a generation inclined to watch old, classic movies. A movie in black and white? Forget it.

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