English Instructor Explores New Way of Giving Feedback on Writing Assignments

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 9, 2015 – Students taking English classes with High Point University instructor Allison Walker are using a new tool to review their classmates’ writing. Along with providing written feedback, students record audio/video comments for their peers using a free online tool that personalizes the editing process.

Walker will discuss this new audio/video tool, also known as “screencasting,” during a presentation at the annual convention of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, taking place March 18-21 in Tampa, Florida. She will share how HPU students use Jing to make five-minute screencasts of their feedback on a classmate’s writing assignment. She has collected survey data about how students’ screencasting experiences compare to traditional peer review methods, such as providing written comments in the margins of a classmate’s paper.

“I’m partnering with two colleagues from the University of Houston Downtown and Arizona State University to compare findings across large student populations,” Walker says. “Both of my colleagues run the Writing Centers at their institutions, so they will be testing its effectiveness in peer tutoring sessions, both face-to-face and online, while I’m using it in first-year writing classes. We are still collecting data now, but I’m excited to analyze our findings.”

Screencasting allows students to record audio and video commentary on a peer’s writing while scrolling through a copy of the paper on their computer and highlighting areas of interest. Walker says she has provided feedback on student work by screencasting for several years and that it has been a positive experience for many of her students.

“I can give three times the amount of feedback as opposed to traditional written comments, and the students can decipher the feedback more easily because they can hear it and see it at the same time,” Walker says. “It also tends to personalize the feedback loop, because they can hear my voice, and often a cat meowing in the background or my daughter playing violin. This humanizes me as an instructor, and makes students more amenable to the suggestions I make for revision than they would be if they were just reading them. There have been loads of studies about the effectiveness of using this technology for instructor feedback to students, but very little in terms of using it in peer-to-peer communication.”

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