#LTHEchat no 129 The battle between old and new: Written feedback vs. screencast feedback 7 November 2018

7 November 2018

Mr Damian Keil and Dr David Wright

Assessment feedback in higher education is usually provided through ‘written’ methods. Despite the widespread use of ‘written’ feedback, students frequently report dissatisfaction with the quality of their assessment feedback in annual surveys (Carless, 2006). In the United Kingdom, this frustration with assessment feedback is reflected in National Student Survey (NSS) results where, across the higher education sector, the Assessment and Feedback category was rated consistently lowest in terms of student satisfaction between 2006-2016 (HEFCE 2011; 2016). Reasons for low satisfaction levels with assessment feedback practices have been reported by Chanock (2000) and Weaver (2006) to be related to student perceptions of vague written feedback, which is often difficult to understand, and does not provide specific guidance on how students can improve their work in future. As such, it has been argued that providing feedback in the form of ‘written’ comments is ineffective and no longer appropriate (Carless et al. 2011; Lunt and Curran 2010).

In recent years, attempts have been made to improve upon written feedback methods by using both audio- and video-based feedback. For example, Gould and Day (2013) reported that students valued audio feedback and perceived it as being more detailed, more personal, and more supportive than the ‘written’ comments that they had traditionally received.

Moving on from audio feedback, screencasting allows the tutor to display the assessment submission on screen, highlight specific sections, and provide a verbal commentary (Thompson and Lee 2012). This method appears to offer several benefits over audio-only feedback. First, due to the visual nature of a screencast, the student is forced to visually review their assessment submission whilst listening to the points raised by the marker (Hope, 2011). Second, the visual element to the feedback allows for richer information to be conveyed by the marker than is possible with audio or ‘written’ methods (Cann, 2007), as key points can be highlighted and emphasised, and therefore contextualised by the marker (Crook et al., 2012). Third, Chalmers et al. (2014) found that staff members thought audio feedback was limited as it did not allow exemplar changes to a script to be made. Screencast methods solve this issue as changes to the script can be made if required. Despite these advantages in more advanced technological ways of providing feedback, ‘written’ comments are still the most widely used method of delivering assessment feedback in higher education settings.

A few years ago, we adopted this method and have never looked back. Students report a strong preference for video-based screencast feedback, which is perceived to be more detailed, more personal, easier to understand and offers more guidance on improvement. From a staff perspective, it takes no longer, is more naturalistic when discussing work and provides greater opportunities for explanation without sacrificing time. To us, it seems like a no-brainer…


David Wright is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Science at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. David teaches content related to sport psychology, motor control and research methods across a variety of degree programmes related to sport science. David attempts to improve student satisfaction and achievement by integrating technology into his teaching. For example, over the past five years, David has delivered his assessment feedback via screencast methods, implemented flipped classroom methods on his units, integrated online quizzes into his lectures and engaged with problem-based learning teaching formats. In addition to his teaching, David is also an active researcher. His PhD investigated changes in cortical activity that are associated with motor skill learning. His current research interests focus on exploring the cortical and behavioural processes involved in action observation and motor imagery interventions and their use for motor (re)learning.


image1Mr Damian KeilDW MMU Profile Picture Dr David Wright

Link to the wakelet: https://wakelet.com/wake/155ab4c6-c3fd-4d4f-9c35-b4cde56eb5b3


Carless, D. (2006) ‘Differing Perceptions in the Feedback Process.’ Studies in Higher Education,31, pp. 219-233.

Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M. and Lam, J. (2011) ‘Developing sustainable feedback practices.’ Studies in higher Education36(4), pp.395-407.

Chalmers, C., MacCallum, J., Mowat, E. and Fulton, N. (2014) ‘Audio feedback: richer language but no measurable impact on student performance.’ Practitioner Research in Higher Education8(1), pp.64-73.

Chanock, K. (2000) ‘Comments on Essays: Do Students Understand What Tutors Write?’ Teaching in Higher Education,5, 95-105.

Crook, A., Mauchline, A., Maw, S., Lawson, C., Drinkwater, R., Lundqvist, K., Orsmond, P., Gomez, S. and Park, J. (2012) ‘The use of video technology for providing feedback to students: Can it enhance the feedback experience for staff and students?’ Computers & Education, 58(1), pp.386-396.

Gould, J. and Day, P. (2013) ‘Hearing you loud and clear: student perspectives of audio feedback in higher education.’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education38(5), pp.554-566.

Higher Education Funding Council for England. 2011. “National Student Survey: Findings and Trends 2006 to 2010.” Retrieved from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/hefce/content/pubs/2011/201111/11_11.pdf

Higher Education Funding Council for England. “National Student Survey” Retrieved from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/nss/results/

Hope, S.A. (2011) ‘Making movies: the next big thing in feedback?’ Bioscience Education18(1), pp.1-14.

Lunt, T., and Curran, J. (2010) ‘’Are you Listening Please?’ The Advantages of Electronic Audio Feedback Compared to Written Feedback.’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education,35, 759-769.

Weaver, M. R. (2006) ‘Do Students Value Feedback? Student Perceptions of Tutors’ Written Responses.’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education31, 379-394.

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