Blog diary three: Gaining greater understanding of a new form of feedback

In this third blog diary of a five-part series, LITE Teaching Enhancement Project Leader, Antonio Martínez-Arboleda, examines some communication nuances of the desktop capture process.

My project is going well. I believe I have achieved a lot so far.

I have given three presentations in London and Leeds, I am preparing some conference papers.

I have carried out some field work, I have spoken with really interesting colleagues in IT, Digital learning and the Academic Practice Team (thank you!) and I have come across fascinating readings and projects.

One of these is a study currently being undertaken at the Universities of Winchester and Portsmouth by Jane Jones, Sandy Stockwell, Ellie Woodacre and Nick Purkis, which I mentioned in my previous blog.

The medium matters

The researchers of this team have compared written and audio feedback, looking at the differences between the types of comments made by tutors, and their focus, in each form.

They have also looked at nuances in the audio comments and how students interpret them.

I invite you to look at their presentation on Youtube and discover for yourselves how the medium can have an influence on the actual content of the feedback that we deliver, as well as on the interpretation of the comments by the students.

Some of the conclusions of this study so far, coupled by the evidence gathered during the first trials of my research and my readings, have helped me to make my initial enquiries a bit more specific.

Read Blog Diary One: Using Screen Capture Feedback

Catch up on Blog Diary Two: The Wider Use of Screen Capture Feedback

A new realm

My assumption is that when using audio-visual feedback we are actually moving into a very different communicative realm but where we still perform according to the same institutional policies and professional expectations.

Quality is paramount. Yet not all the tools and conventions – stylistic and pedagogical, for instance – of the written realm may be as useful in the new audio-visual realm as we think.

Observe and learn

In the light of this, in the next few months I want to learn more by finding some answers to these questions:

  1. What linguistic and professional conventions do we as practitioners, actually take with us when we are invited to move from the written realm into the audio-visual realm?
  2. What degree of inventiveness and adaptability do we apply into the audio-visual realm?
  3. Should an optimum mix of written, visual and audio components within the feedback given for one piece of work be defined?
  4. Is audio-visual feedback a tool to gloss previously written feedback or is the recording the ‘real McCoy’ in itself, rendering written bits of feedback more of a supporting act?
  5. Do tutors express their professional and their academic authority and identity through their voice any differently? How is this seen by the student? Does this matter in their relationship?

Articulating complexity

There are four key elements that interplay and support each other in producing meaning:

  • the voice of the tutor;
  • the visual elements used on the word processor, such as highlighting;
  • the text of the student;
  • and the play/pause function.

I talk in my video about the written work of a student, as it appears on the screen, pointing at the ideas within the student text that I am referring to.

This means that in my feedback I don’t necessarily have to repeat, summarise or paraphrase what the student says.

This is something that can be particularly time consuming as it may also involve a reference to what one or more cited authors say.

With this approach I am making my narrative more agile and varied.

I can maximise the different options when it comes to nesting ideas.

It would be interesting to explore the connections with the work of Michael Corballis on recursive thinking.

Facilitating complex thinking

By doing this, am I also, however, lessening the cognitive load of the student through this form of communication?

I believe so, and Edwards, Dujardin and Williams suggests that.

The recording, obviously, should be done with some skill, avoiding scrolling up and down or shaking the mouse whilst making a point.

Students must be able to read, see and hear.

The pace of delivery is arguably not so much of a concern, as students can, and should, use the play/pause function.

Next up

For my fourth blog post I will update on progress and talk about cognitive engagement with the work of the student through audio-visual feedback.

In the meantime, help me build a debate on Twitter and use the #audiovisualfeedback.

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