Making the Difference: Learner-Generated Digital Media as an Assessment Tool for Science Students

by | 7 Dec, 2016 | 0 comments

Investigating new media for assessments in the Faculty of Science

Where did we start?

In Autumn 2015 we embarked on a project to develop a workflow to implement learner-generated digital media (LGDM) as an assessment tool in the Faculty of Science. The literature shows that digital media (e.g. videos) has the potential to result in higher-quality learning due to the self-explanation effect (Hoban et al., 2015). It has been used opportunistically as a pedagogical agent, which means students do not receive training on how to create effective digital media (Buckingham, 2007). This area of research is considered under-theorised and barely adequate (Hakkarainen, 2009). Most of the studies undertaken have been qualitative, a case study with small samples, based solely on students’ perceptions (Reyna et al., 2016). These were the reasons we decided to contribute to the body of knowledge in this area.

The workflow

We designed an efficient workflow to implement digital media as an assessment tool in science subjects. We piloted the workflow in the subject Pharmacology 2 (Autumn 2015) working with Ken Rodgers as he is using LGDM for the last five years. The workflow has the following elements:

  1. Pedagogy and rationale
  2. Student training in digital media
  3. Hosting and distribution
  4. Marking scheme
  5. Group contribution
  6. Feedback
  7. Student reflection
  8. Evaluation.

What are the key findings?

Data was analysed and showed that students found the learner-generated digital media assignment was engaging (90%), fostered learning (89%), creativity (91%), and that they gained additional skills relevant to their future careers (74%). Students highlighted that the LGDM project allowed them to exercise creativity while learning, work efficiently in groups, give them freedom to use different tools for the assignment, and the experience of being fun, engaging, and different as well as educational. Additionally, students mentioned they want more feedback, training on video editing and longer time for the video as it was 5 minutes’ maximum.

Student feedback

“The digital media project seemed extremely fluid, and it was easy to understand what needed to be done. The assignment allowed students to take control of their learning, which I believed got us to be more engaged and keen to produce a good piece of work.”

“In the whole three years of my medical science degree, I had never had the chance to use any creativity in any assessments. As a creative person, I really enjoyed the chance to apply some of my other skills to an assignment.”

We believe that student training on digital media (lecture and workshop) empowers and motivates them to further engage in their learning. For more details of the study: Reyna, J., Meier, P., Geronimo, F., & Rodgers, K. (2016). Implementing Digital Media Presentations as Assessment Tools for Pharmacology Students. American Journal of Educational Research, 4(14), 983-991.

Examples of student work can be viewed on YouTube here: The Domestication Hypothesis in Horses, The True Story of Pele, and Abort Mission.

LGDM uptake in the Faculty of Science

With the successful implementation in Pharmacology 2, the following subjects implemented LGDM in 2016:

  1. Geological Processes (91149)
  2. Animal Behaviour and Physiology (91363)
  3. Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine
  4. Introductory Pharmacology and Microbiology (92354)
  5. Investigation of Human Remains (91138)

We collected a large set of data that will give us an in-depth understanding of how students learn by using learner-generated digital media, how they work in groups and how the task can be improved.

What comes next?

I enrolled to study my PhD in LGDM in September, and I am currently developing the LGDM framework to assist academics in the implementation of authentic assessments using digital media. This framework will also inform students how the assessment has been designed and the advantages to learning using digital media. I am taking an educational psychology approach using self-regulation and motivational theories. The framework will be published later in 2017.

I am currently seeking science subjects in first, second and third year to run trials. We will be offering support to design the task, delivery of a digital media lecture (face-to-face or flipped) as well as workshops, rubric design and so on. If you are keen to make the difference with learner-generated digital media, please contact me at Jorge.reyna@uts.edu.au

Image by Seth Doyle.

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