Authentic Assessment of Communication Skills: Video Annotation as a Solution

This education tip is a report of a 2017 competitive educational innovation project 

What? 

Authentic testing focuses on assessing students’ skills and insights in a situation that is (largely) in line with future professional practice. Authentic assessment expects students to demonstrate competences in a way in which professionals apply these competences in daily reality. This assessment method also requires sufficient opportunities for authentic practice moments in which the student can learn (partial) skills in a safe context and can reflect on them (i.e. formative testing). In many cases, real-life situations are simulated for this purpose (e.g., through role plays). These practice moments have great added value in the learning process, but also bring some challenges, such as: 

  • There is often little time to build in such practice moments. 
  • It is not feasible to provide feedback on individual performance during those moments, especially in large groups. 
  • Students do not always experience these practice moments as a safe learning environment in which there is sufficient space to practice and make mistakes, so that learning effects are often not optimal. 

Innovative tools can offer a useful alternative. 

The competitive educational innovation project ‘Authentic testing of communication skills: video annotation as a solution’ focuses on the development of video annotation as an innovative tool. Central to the project is the development of a didactic method that can be supported by using an online video annotation tool. The didactic method comprises three essential components: (1) The student films the authentic situation in which they demonstrate the required skills (2) Peers and/or teacher give specific feedback on the skills presented on the basis of the video material. (3) The student reflects on their own performance on the basis of the feedback received and the video material. 

How? 

Within this project, we are currently using the free tool VideoAnt (https://ant.umn.edu/). This tool allows you to comment on specific points in the video. You can respond to each other’s comments, which can lead to a dialogue. 

VideoAnt is one of the many free tools we have considered in this project. After listing the desired functionalities, we made this choice. One caveat to this tool is that no integration with the electronic learning environment is currently possible. After all, the tool only works with videos uploaded via YouTube, where it is important that students always use the privacy setting ‘hidden’. An overview of our desired functionalities and other video annotation tools can be found as an attachment. 

Who? 

This project started in November 2017 by the main promoters, Prof. dr. Van Damme and Prof. dr. Crombez and project supervisor Prof. dr Lauwerier. This project is being shaped in collaboration with five faculties. The lecturers involved are supported by an educational scientist (Astrid Vermeersch) and thus help to fine-tune this method so that other lecturers can use it university-wide later on. 

Faculties involved: 

  • Psychology and Educational Sciences 
  • Medicine and Health Sciences 
  • Political and Social Sciences 
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences 
  • Veterinary Sciences 

Case studies

The Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences – Clinical Psychology study programme 

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences – training Health information and promotion (GVO) 

In the courses ‘First line: Motivation and self-regulation in chronic health problems’ (3rd Bachelor Clinical Psychology) and ‘Individual and group-oriented methods and techniques for influencing behaviour’ (Master GVO), students learn to apply motivational conversation techniques. The students receive the theory through lectures and online learning paths. In addition, they are instructed to have three short conversations with a volunteer with the aim of assessing and evoking motivation to work on unhealthy behaviour such as smoking, eating unhealthily or exercising too little. These conversations are scheduled in specified periods to match the increasing complexity in conversational skills that the student is introduced to through the learning paths. The conversations are filmed and loaded into the video annotation tool. Each student gives feedback to two fellow students via this tool, and reflects on their own video and the feedback obtained. The team of teachers moderates and can (depending on occupation and number of students) also give feedback on the work of the students. At the end of the semester, the students write a self-reflection report about their experiences, their learning process and what they can work on in the future. This reflection is read by the teacher and included in the non-periodical assessment. 

Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences – Social Educational Care study programme 

In the course Clinical-psychological skills and diagnostics, students learn conversation skills that they have to apply in a clinical psychological context. The students are given two moments to practice this application. After the first theory lesson and practical, students have to role-play in a skills lab. Here each student takes on the role of the therapist for 10 minutes. Some students also take on the role of the client. This situation is filmed and brought into the video annotation tool. The students are divided into groups of two and give each other feedback via the tool. Later in the semester there will be a second practise moment. Here again, each student takes on the role of the therapist, but the client is played by an extra (these are doctoral students affiliated with the department). After this conversation, the students have to write a reflection on their experiences, their strengths and work points, what feedback they have brought with them to the second practise moment and what they will work on in the future. 

Faculty of Political and Social Sciences – Sociology study programme 

In the course ‘Introduction to Qualitative Research’, students receive an introduction to the basic principles and techniques of qualitative research as applied in social sciences. Here the students learn, among other things, to conduct an interview. The students have to find a volunteer who wants to be interviewed. This conversation is filmed and brought into the video annotation tool. The students are divided into groups and within this group give each other feedback via this tool. As a result, they learn to give feedback on the sociological work of fellow students in an empathetic, critical and constructive way. 

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine – Veterinary Medicine study programme 

In the course ‘Clinical and Communication Skills 1’ students learn the course of a medical consultation in a simple context. The theory is taught during the lessons and the students are given the time to apply the theory in these lessons through role play. In the last part of the lesson, the students spread across the room and perform this role-play, which they film themselves with their smartphone. This video is brought into the annotation tool to give feedback to each other after class. Here they learn to critically reflect on the communication between animal owner and veterinarian. 

More information? 

Would you like more information about this project or would you like to see an example of specific assignment descriptions? Please contact Astrid Vermeersch (Astrid.Vermeersch@ugent.be). 

Last modified Feb. 21, 2022, 4:27 p.m.