It can be hard to give feedback when there is lack of face-to-face contact with students. Sometimes it's hard to express your criticisms in writing or to give a sense of which comments are important and which are less consequential (it's all just so much red ink). I wanted a more personalised way of giving feedback, which would give the students a better sense of how to improve, and a sense that their lecturer was actually engaging with their work.
I saw Bela Chatterjee's Sharing Practice talk in April 2020, in which she discussed her experiences of using individualised feedback videos. I thought that this might be a good solution. My class was small (only 24 students) so I thought it might be manageable. Moreover, my class was 100% coursework-based assessment, so feedback is all the more important to help them improve in time for it to make a difference to their written coursework.
What did you do?
I recorded individual videos using Teams, screensharing the students' work and talking about what they did well/could have improved.
Each feedback video was 5-10 minutes long. In total, marking and making the video for each student only took 20 minutes. Changing permissions to make the videos individually viewable by each student was a bit of a faff, but still manageable.
I made sure that my mark-scheme focused on overall properties of their solutions: instead of giving points for mentioning particular ingredients of the solution, I gave overall marks for clarity, accuracy and completeness of the solution. This meant it was easy to come up with a numerical mark, and focus my feedback on the important details and aspects of their writing instead of fiddling around assigning lots of part-marks.
How did you feel about it?
I enjoyed marking this way a lot: it felt more like you were having a discussion with the student instead of scrawling comments they might never read. I also found it much easier to express my qualms through this medium. In particular, I found subtle points of how to phrase mathematical arguments easier to express verbally than in writing.
What did the students think?
Student feedback about this mechanism was overwhelmingly positive: this module received a 5/5 specifically in the "Feedback" category on LUMES (the Lancaster University Module Evaluation System), and student comments included several along the lines of "really liked the video feedback, made me engage with what I had got wrong significantly more". The students' final projects for this module have been very high quality, so it seems like they did take the feedback on board.