Video Recorded Assessments: Help Your Students, Save Your Sanity

by Sarah Myers

PhD student Sarah Myers
Sarah Myers is a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. Her primary area of research is of qualitative nature: examining athletic training preceptor development and athletic training clinical immersion practices. Sarah was recently accepted into the Graduate Certificate in College Instruction program.

I have given several oral presentation assignments over the course of my 5 year teaching experience in higher education. It wasn’t until after the third year of grading these presentations with no issues that a student approached me with questions about her grade. She insisted that she covered a particular aspect of the rubric, in which I was certain she did not. It became a very challenging moment to manage, a “he said, she said” situation. Determined to not let myself be in such a situation again, I decided to video tape all presentations. The first time I recorded the presentations I used my cell phone. I found it easy to upload the recordings through our online portal individually so each student would only see his or her own. After my initial “success,” I began renting equipment from the AV department for better picture and sound quality. Even with the change in multimedia, I only needed minimal instruction on how to upload the recording from the camera to the computer.

What began as a way for me to have the ability to validate the grades I felt the students earned developed into more than I could have imagined. I was able to go back and reference the video for grading purposes which allowed me to watch the presentation and take it all in live, as opposed to attempting to furiously take notes while “watching” so I wouldn’t forget key points to address while grading.

I then decided to make the videos available to the students and allow them the ability to self-reflect on their presentation. Much as I dislike hearing my own voice on a voicemail or other recording, many students were nervous to watch themselves, but I found drastic improvements from the first presentation to the second. Students were less fidgety, spoke at a slower pace, used fillers like “umm” less, and overall had a much better presence about them. When I pointed this out to the students, many said it was because they were able to see how (in their opinion) “poorly” they did on the first one, making comments like “I could barely hear myself on the recording” or “I was moving so much, it was distracting.” Sign that reads "video recording in progress"

With such great success on the video recorded oral presentation, I have begun considering implementing a similar feedback approach in my athletic training courses. Many of these classes require hands on learning, scenario based “mock” evaluations, and other real time assessments that are not of written exam nature. The definition of “feedback,” as designed from the research of Van de Ritter, Stokking, and McGaghie (2008), is “specific information about the comparison between a trainee’s observed performance and a standard, given with the intent to improve the trainee’s performance.” When practical, hands on skills are traditionally observed in the clinic setting or mock evaluations in the academic setting, once the student has completed the skill, the moment is gone. Unlike a paper or exam, in which the student can go back to the same evaluation tool several times to self-reflect and utilize direct written instructor feedback to reference for future assignments, the same does not hold true for practical assessments. If instructors had the opportunity to video record a student completing these practical skills, the student would be able to watch the video after, review it and make adjustments just as he/she would for a written assignment. This would help address the purpose of feedback (2008) in a more efficient and manner, and perhaps make it more meaningful feedback to the students.

A study by Yoo, Yoo, & Lee (2010) suggests that the students in the experimental group (those afforded the opportunity to view video recordings of their skills) had better scores on competency (p < 0.001), communication skills (p < 0.001), and learning motivation (p = 0.018) than the control group at the post-test, which was conducted 8 weeks after the pretest. According to the authors, self-awareness of one’s own performance developed by reviewing a videotape appears to increase the competency of clinical skills in nursing students (Yoo, Yoo, & Lee 2010).

Teachers are always looking for ways to make student’s learning link to real life application as much as possible. For instructors such as myself, who teach content areas that require practical skills assessment, video recording these assessments could prove to be a powerful tool, not only to minimize stress of hurried grading for the instructor, but also to allow students to reflect on specific aspects of their performance.


Van De Ridder, J., Stokking, K., McGaghie, W., & Ten Cate, O. (2008). What is feedback in clinical education?. Medical Education, 42(2), 189-197. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2007.02973.x

Yoo, M., Yoo, I., & Lee, H. (2010). Nursing Students’ Self-Evaluation Using a Video Recording of Foley Catheterization: Effects on Students’ Competence, Communication Skills, and Learning Motivation. Journal Of Nursing Education, 49(7), 402-405. doi:10.3928/01484834-20100331-03