Assessing students innovatively via peer-reviewed small group video presentations

Dr Jessica Komes, Lecturer

School of Psychology

Faculty of Medical Sciences

What did you do?

I assessed students through a pre-recorded oral group presentation submitted via Canvas. The assessment included peer feedback.

Who is involved?

Dr Jessica Komes

As lecturer in Psychology, I am delivering modules to two different cohorts, Stage 2 Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students. The assignments described here were implemented as:

  • a formative assessment for a 10-credit optional module  for Psychology Undergraduate students: UG PSY2018: The Body, the Mind and the Self: Interoception in Health and Clinical Psychology
  • part of the summative assessment (30%) for the 20-credit optional module for PGT students enrolled in the Foundations of Clinical Psychology MSc programme: MSC PSY8079: The Body, the Mind and the Self: Interoception and Mental Health.

How did you do it?

To set this up I:

  • Created groups of three to four students via the grouping function in Canvas and notified students of their respective groups in the first week of teaching.
  • Shared an Excel file with the students stating their group number and which group they are providing feedback for.
  • Encouraged students to get in touch early and I deliberately set the submission date early, i.e. week four for the UG students and week 7 for the PGT students to stimulate engagement with the learning materials from early onwards.
  • Provided instructions on how to set up a Zoom meeting, how to share screen and record the meeting as well as how to retrieve it and save it as mp4. LTDS was very helpful in sharing even more detailed descriptions and various ways of creating a video file for submission which I passed onto the students in the assessment information module and submission section on Canvas.
  • Created an assessment folder in Recap for the students to upload the video files and I asked them to state the group number in their file name. I made the folder accessible to all students after submission closure and students had a couple of weeks to provide peer-feedback which is time-logged with the video presentation.
  • For the UG module, I provided guidance on how to provide constructive feedback and a rubric entailing marking criteria, although I did not ask students to provide a mark for each other.
  • For the PGT module, I used similar marking criteria to grade the presentations.
  • Meanwhile the UG students were asked to provide slide show presentation, the PGTs were asked to design a poster and record the poster presentation. As this was part of their summative assessment, I did not ask students to provide peer-feedback, but I still made the presentations available to be viewed by each other.
  • All students were informed that their presentations should be of a maximum length of 10 minutes.

Why did you do it? 

The rationale for this assessment approach relates to the learning outcomes and assesses student’s ability to orally articulate the intended knowledge and skill outcomes.

With the change to online teaching, I figured this would be the closest to the assessment rationale outlined in the MOF. Furthermore, with the lack of peer contact due to the pandemic, the small group work ensured that students would engage with each other and be given the opportunity to build a community feeling through their preparation work as well as co-create an understanding of the lecture and practical materials from early in the Semester onwards.

The video presentation furthermore ensured some groundwork was laid for the final assessment, particularly feeding into the introduction and discussion section of the summative research report. This was the first time that these completely new modules were delivered and the assessment helped to inform us about students learning processes and difficulties. As the module was chosen by nearly the entire Stage 2 cohort with 176 students enrolled, the peer-feedback option made this formative assessment feasible and ensured all presentations and presenters obtained constructive feedback.

Though the 28 MSc students enrolled did not receive peer-feedback, watching each other’s presentation provided a mutual learning opportunity and the marking criteria were shared with the students to enable a differentiated understanding of the grade. I chose the poster presentation recording since the PGTs are asked to design a poster as part of their dissertation project and hence students could use the experience and my feedback for similar assessments later in the academic year.

Does it work?

As module lead who taught this module for the first time, it certainly assured me that the materials were grasped by the students as intended and helped me navigate learning edges which became apparent in the presentations. Thus, the assessment informed my subsequent teaching practice.

As the assessment was formative for the UG students, some chose not to complete it. I needed to be flexible about group sizes and there were a couple of incidents in which only one or two students presented. I allowed them to reduce the recording time and I re-shuffled the peer-feedback groups accordingly.

Submission to the ReCap folder worked well for most groups. If students had difficulties, I instructed them to upload their file to Newcastle file drop-off. I then downloaded it and uploaded it to Canvas.

In the mid-module evaluations, I carried out, the students who completed it feedbacked that they enjoyed the group work and connect with their peers, to exchange ideas of share knowledge which decreased feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Both cohorts positively commented that the pre-recorded presentations furthered their understanding critically for the subsequent (summative) assessment. Some students also mentioned that this innovative assignment promoted some practical skills about delivering presentations in blended/virtual settings which will be of benefit for their careers. In amore formal evaluation I carried out using TEL-related questions, students indicated they found the module offers plenty of opportunity to receive feedback – UG students rated this question with an average of 3.9 and PGT with an average of 4.1 out of 5.

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