OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Assigning (and Evaluating) Student-Created Media

Introduction

Asking students to produce media for a class assignment can be incredibly rewarding for both student and instructor. In our conversations with students, they've consistently told us that they learn course material at a deeper level when asked to produce a multimedia element or video related to course content. Instructors tell us the same thing. These reports are consistent with a great article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Students have a product that they're proud to redistribute or reuse, and instructors are often surprised by the high quality of the finished products. Such projects can be incredibly time-consuming, however, and the most successful assignments are those with reasonable expectations set forth in the assessment criteria. Students will be working in a medium with which they may not have the kind of proficiency that instructors have come to expect in more traditional assignment media (oral presentations or written reports), so defining scope and setting reasonable expectations are key for a positive experience. The tools to create the media may be as unfamiliar as the media itself, so coordinating the technical aspects is often one of the first concerns that comes up. Again, however, defining scope and setting reasonable expectations can go a long way toward alleviating anxiety associated with the learning curve.

Learning Objectives

  • Review example assignments for student-produced media
  • Listen to testimony from both students and instructors about what they learned in the media-creation process
  • Review sample materials from instructors
  • Review a rubric for assessing student media

Discussion

TAC debuted its support of assigning student-produced media in 2012 with professor Dwaine Plaza. His students were asked to produce mashup videos using various media that they collected from around the web for his class, 499 Modern Racism Popular Culture. When we asked him about the assignment, Dr. Plaza said,

I wanted to have [the students] experience the popular culture but then do a critical analysis of popular culture by making their own popular culture, and using that as a way of teaching others about what they're seeing. So we often refer to this as the manifest level versus the latent level. So most of us see our television shows and our popular culture at the manifest level. We experience it, we engage with it, we don't do much about it. But when you start looking at things on the latent level, that allows you then to see issues of race, gender and class, sexuality, issues of in-groups, out-groups, and the ways in which history has brought certain groups to certain roles.  And so when you can give students that historical background and then allow them, and give them the tools to engage with the material that is already out there, they can then put together for you a picture of what they see as being ways in which they can teach other people to do latent level analysis of things they're actually looking at day to day.

You can review Dr. Plaza's entire interview, as well as get access to some of his teaching materials for that class, in the blog for our Podcast, Conversations and Explorations of Key Teaching and Learning Issues. We also did an interview with Sophie Wilson, one of his students. If you'd like to listen to her full interview, you can find that here. Below is a director's commentary that we recorded with her while viewing her project.

More recently, Marisa Chappell came to TAC and asked if we could help coordinate a similar assignment for her class, HST399 Special Topics: Civil Rights Movement in Modern America. Students had very little time to produce the media (week 3), but she was nonetheless blown away by the results. Here's a sample on YouTube. And more below.

 

Assessing Student-Produced Media

Instructors have devised many ways to assess the media that students produce. A frequently-used strategy is to have students do peer evaluation based on a common rubric. What the rubric will look like is ultimately up to you, but below is a sample rubric that we've been working on, as an adaptation from a framework established by the New London Group (we discuss their work in greater detail in the Pedagogy of Video workshop/webinar). This can function as a guide for instructors selecting media to present, as well as a rubric for assessing student work.

Rubric for Assessing Educational Video

Adapted by Stevon Roberts, from a framework proposed by the New London Group.

Presentation and Context
Excellent (learning objectives are explicitly presented for this piece of media, and the relevant portions of media are identified, or media is trimmed to include only relevant sections)
Good (learning objectives are presented, but perhaps too ambitious for this piece of media)
Poor (no learning objectives, or they're confusing, or unrelated to media)
Media Content
Excellent (style, genre, dialect, voice, scope and runtime, are appropriate to and supportive of the learning outcome. )
Good (some of the above Design elements support the learning outcome)
Poor (few, if any, of the above Design elements support the learning outcome)
Production Quality
Excellent (Subjects are lit appropriate to genre and style: lighting conveys appropriate sense of mood. Frame composition and movement are focused, give the impression of being well-controlled, and/or they artistically enhance the overall experience. Audio is clear and free of distracting ambient noise)
Good (some obvious or glaring compromises were made, and as a result, either the video or the audio may be imperfect in some way. Some elements may be distracting or inappropriate for the context. Frame composition and camera movement may be uncontrolled in some scenes but generally do not distract from the experience)
Poor (poor contrast, or subjects difficult to recognize, and/or audio is muddled or echoey and difficult to understand or unpleasant to listen to. Frame composition or camera movements are distracting)

Presentation and Context

  • Excellent (learning objectives are explicitly presented for this piece of media, and the relevant portions of media are identified, or media is trimmed to include only relevant sections)
  • Good (learning objectives are presented, but perhaps too ambitious for this piece of media)
  • Poor (no learning objectives, or they're confusing, or unrelated to media)

Media Content

  • Excellent (style, genre, dialect, voice, scope and runtime, are appropriate to and supportive of the learning outcomes.)
  • Good (some of the above Design elements support the learning outcomes)
  • Poor (few, if any, of the above Design elements support the learning outcomes)

Production Quality

  • Excellent (Subjects are lit appropriate to genre and style: lighting conveys appropriate sense of mood. Frame composition and movement are focused, give the impression of being well-controlled, and/or they artistically enhance the overall experience. Audio is clear and free of distracting ambient noise)
  • Good (some obvious or glaring compromises were made, and as a result, either the video or the audio may be imperfect in some way. Some elements may be distracting or inappropriate for the context. Frame composition and camera movement may be uncontrolled in some scenes but generally do not distract from the experience)
  • Poor (poor contrast, or subjects difficult to recognize, and/or audio is muddled or echoey and difficult to understand or unpleasant to listen to. Frame composition or camera movements are distracting)