Student Video Assignments

by William Guth

In our recent blog entry Make It Stick!, we discussed strategies for helping students move newly learned information into long-term memory. Of the strategies discussed, Practice Getting It Out vs. Getting It In stands out as an opportunity not only for students to generate knowledge by teaching concepts to peers that demonstrate their understanding of learned content, but also as a vehicle for creating variety in the types of assignments we design.

In a typical course design, faculty will have their students participate in traditional assignments, which can include quizzes, paper writing, and discussions, to demonstrate their knowledge of concepts, but is that the limit for what we can do?

As recently as our current design cycle, a few of our faculty developers have drawn outside the lines to develop a variety of assessment strategies for measuring achievement of objectives and demonstration of learning with include recorded video presentations. Each assignment tasks students with producing a video presentation or reflection wherein they explain, demonstrate, illustrate, report on, or share research and ideas as they relate to the topic of the week or the course as a whole.

Examples include video responses to deep readings for MALIT 405 Conceptions of the Body in Renaissance Literature, personal reflection videos for ORG BEH 301: Organizational Behavior, and presenting an examination of one’s relationship to an item of personal technology for IPLS 401: Imagining the Internet.  

MALIT 405 Conceptions of the Body in Renaissance Literature (Kasey Evans)

Project: Video Response

Three times during the quarter–in Weeks 2, 5, and 8–students will complete and upload a short video detailing how the assigned reading for the week offered insight into the topic of the week’s module. For full credit, students should offer substantial remarks that demonstrate careful reflection on the readings and the week’s module topic.

Course Learning Objective

Present your work orally with fluency and ease, and answer questions about their original research.

Why Video?

“The primary objective of the video assignments that I designed for MALit 405 was to train students to convey an idea orally in a clear, articulate, efficient, organized, and self-possessed fashion. One important demographic that the MALit program serves is secondary school teachers from the greater Chicago area; teachers are constantly working to convey complex ideas to their students through clear oral delivery, and to model for their students what confident oral presentation skills look like. But for students who will go on to any professional environment, I think that the ability to speak confidently, eloquently, and fluently in front of a group of co-workers or peers is an important skill that will help in situations from project presentations to annual reviews by a supervisor.”

Kasey Evans, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of English

ORG BEH 301: Organizational Behavior (Bob Ernest)

Project: Personal Reflection Video

Applying what you have learned throughout the quarter, put yourself in the shoes of a leader at your company who is being asked to pitch organizational changes in the area of your organizational behavior topic. Explain what changes are recommended, why they are recommended (you are recommending them), barriers to making the suggested changes, and the impact on employees.

Learning Objective

Research organizational behavior practices and orally address how they are applied in the workplace. Assess effectiveness of organizational behavioral practices as they are applied in the workplace.

Why Video?

“Being able to summarize one’s thinking to an executive in a concise and convincing way is important for any leader and one’s career. Being able to see oneself in a video as others see us is pretty powerful. You don’t get this from writing papers. And from a business perspective, it’s all about presentations versus papers anyway.”

Bob Ernest – Career Coach, and SPS Adjunct Faculty

IPLS 401: Imagining the Internet

Project: Technology Related Artifact Project

Are you passionate about a particular piece of tech–a game, a device or an app? Make a short video that describes the relationship between you and a piece of tech, examining why you find it so


Reflect on your relationship to a piece of technology and how technologies are socially constructed.

Why Video?
“This assignment asks students to begin using the lenses of the course: race, sex, gender, ability, and location to analyze an object that might otherwise seem to be self evident. Being asked to use video technology to express themselves helps learners gain experience communicating visually, which they may need to do in their future work lives (and the final project for this course). The assignment also serves as a significant community-building exercise in the course.”

Jeanne Kerl,  Learning Designer – School of Professional Studies

When would I consider a video assignment in lieu of a traditional assessment?

If you’re wondering when or how to identify an opportunity to design a video assignment as a part of your assessment strategy, look no further than your module and course level objectives.

When you have indicated in your objectives for students to demonstrate, explain, identify and describe, reflect and present, or compare and contrast, you have created an opening for students to perform these tasks for you in an audio/visual medium or other multimedia delivery system from which you can assess their achievement of that performance goal.