Use of screen recording by students

Screen recording software enables individuals to record what is happening on their computer screen. With a microphone it is also possible to record a narrative of the activity. This technology is often used for training and demostration purposes, and has also been employed by educators to give oral feedback on student work. However, this project, supported by an HEA departmental enhancement grant, sought to explore the use use of this technology by students themselves to create their own movies. These could then be submitted as an assessment or used by the student for revision purposes.

Rationale

As well as giving the ability to observe students working via the movie, it was hypothesised that the oral generative processes required to narrate a screen recorded movie would aid comprehension of material. It could also highlight weaknesses in student understanding that may be difficult to capture in other forms of assessment. These could then be used to provide relevant support to students. More detailed information and references are given the resourses below.

Software

Microsoft Windows Media encoder (free) was installed on networked computers and students were given instructions on how to download it if they wished. Five sound-attenuated booths with networked computers were also made available for students to use in order that they could narrate freely without fear of being overheard. A number of other screen recording software packages are also available, e.g. CamtasiaCamStudio.

Assessments

Screen recording assessments were designed accross the Psychology curricula. These included creating movies of students undertaking statistical analysis and interpreting the output, producing movies of (powerpoint) presentations on an independent project, and creating an 'instructional video' on a psychological disorder of their choice. Once created, these movies were submitted to the VLE for tutors to access and grade.

Informal Learning

Students were encouraged to use the screen recording software for their own revision purposes. It was suggested that they talk through powerpoint presentations or mindmaps of revision topics and record themselves doing so. They could then play back the recording to assess if their explanation of an issue was perceived as clear and detailed enough, if not, they could then re-record with amended 'script' then play the multimedia revision tool frequently in preparation for the exam, capitalizing on the dual-coding to improve understanding and recall during the exam.  

Conclusions

The multimedia format plus oral generative processes and increased engagement required to produce the movies carries a number of significant learning advantages. The beneficial consequences of the technique differ across various aspects of the curricula and year groups. In some (first year students conducting data analysis), oral explanation exposed weaknesses in understanding. In others, (the more 'expert' finalist students presenting knowledge and understanding of a psychological disorder) the movies didn't affect marks but encouraged greater engagement with material and ownership of knowledge.

Student Feedback

Although there were some technological concerns from a few students, for the most part student feedback was very positive. For example:

"I thought it was really good. I liked that we had chance to practice as many times as we wanted to and also hearing myself back on WME helped me to understand what I was talking about. I think it made using SPSS much easier to understand from a beginners point of view."

"I think it was a really effective way of learning as it was more interesting and fun, which made it easier to learn the topic as well as providing more motivation."

Publication

Abdel Nabi, D. & Rogers, P. (2009). The use of screen recorders for assessment and learning of data analysis. Psychology, Learning and Teaching, 8 (1), 21-28