Using Videos for Formative Assessment

Videos have a range of uses in language learning. They are great teaching and learning tools, and how they are used is shaped by who is in control of them. Teachers can find many ways to use videos in the classroom (see my post about using long videos), and learners can also find unique ways of working with videos (from music with LyricsTraining, to gap-fills with Tube Quizard, to comprehension-focused videos with TedEd). Jeremy Slagoski, in a post on using online videos, argues that learner control of a video – the pausing, repeating, using subtitles, etc. – helps to build metacognitive strategies (e.g. monitoring and self-evaluation) vital to listening skill development. On the other hand, he argues that a teacher in control of the video makes the listening experience “less authentic” because they direct what happens, when, and even why.

Recently, I’ve been using EdPuzzle, a website that allows you to make interactive video quizzes for students. This type of video-watching experience seems to straddle the line between learner and teacher control. The teacher sets the questions/tasks, but learners  have control in repeating, using captions, pausing, and so on. Therefore, it seems like a great tool to promote metacognitive listening skill development, as well as whatever skill the teacher sets for the students.

EdPuzzle also serves as a great formative assessment tool, and the data that it provides can be easily used back in the classroom. I discovered this by accident this week. I was absent from my listening class on Tuesday and so I sent my students (n=3, it’s a slow term) instructions to go to the computer lab and watch this video together. I wanted them to work together to answer questions about the video – bringing in the social negotiation of meaning aspect of listening instruction.

When I checked their work later that day, I saw something very interesting:

EdPuzzle provides a lot of useful information about video quizzes you create

Those red areas represent how many times they listened to a segment of the video. The amount of times they listened to certain sections troubled me. It indicated that all three students struggled to hear or understand something. I immediately saw this as a great chance to exploit these areas back in the classroom.

I listened to the problem areas, checked my questions, and checked to transcript to piece together what was causing the issues. Some of it was due to speed, some due to lexis, and some due to a large amount of information in a small space. I designed an activity for each segment, cut the video up in PowerPoint, and we went over the trouble spots together.

Follow-up activities based on formative assessment

For the first activity focused on students listening to fast speech that spelled out a series of events. They didn’t have to write it word for word, but they did have to “take notes” on what happened and then paraphrase it back to me,

The second activity was a bit similar, but also required students to discern what was or wasn’t an issue, since some of the things she mentions were not issues. Here is the full excerpt. I have underlined the issues and italicized the “distractors”:

One summer break, I came here to New York for an internship at a fashion house in Chinatown. We worked on two incredible dresses that were 3D printed. They were amazing — like you can see here. But I had a few issues with them. They were made from hard plastics and that’s why they were very breakable. The models couldn’t sit in them, and they even got scratched from the plastics under their arms.

With 3D printing, the designers had so much freedom to make the dresses look exactly like they wanted, but still, they were very dependent on big and expensive industrial printers that were located in a lab far from their studio.

Is made from hard plastics an issue in itself, or is it the cause of them being “breakable”? This is something we discussed afterwards. In addition, all but one student was successful as ignoring the “freedom” sentence as an issue. We were able to discuss why that was or was not an issue.

The third activity was based on lexis. Some of the terms I assumed they knew (fabric, pattern) while others were either pre-taught a few days before (textile) or possibly new (lace). The final activity was a focus on numbers, including the meaning of 24/7 and the significance of the following phrase, which made for a short and interesting discussion, requiring scaffolded questioning (socratic questioning?) until students understood the comparison:

And this is actually a really slow process,but let’s remember the Internet was significantly slower 20 years ago,so 3D printing will also accelerate…

Here, students listened as a group. If they listen individually, you can see how many times each student listened, and you can get data on the questions all students got right/wrong. This is very useful information for spotting problem areas and addressing them back in the classroom.

In sum, EdPuzzle seems to make a great tool to allow teacher assessment, learner autonomy, and formative feedback in the classroom. I have only been using this site for a month, but I am sure there are a lot of other uses I will soon unlock!