The Power of Multimedia Feedback (Mastery Series #2)

Where Are We

In the first installment of this series, we examined a common barrier to learning whereby students may not utilize feedback provided to them by faculty. This feedback disuse can be frustrating for faculty (like our fictional “Dr. Dean” in Part 1) and prevents what should be a powerful and vital part of the learning process for students.

In this installment, we’ll connect the concept of “mastery-oriented feedback” to the practice of using multimedia tools to offer feedback in practice.

In the third and final installment in this series we’ll look at several tools that instructors can use to provide multimedia feedback and share some examples.

Rethinking Representation of Feedback

Through the lens of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and specifically mastery-oriented feedback, the primary barrier to learner use of feedback is that way we have traditionally used feedback summatively, to justify a grade, as a monologue from instructor to student. Further, such feedback has often only been given after significant delay. Both the delay and the lack of opportunity to respond renders such feedback ineffective for motivating learner engagement. Without engagement, students are unlikely to fully benefit from the feedback’s potential. This approach to identifying systemic barriers rather than attributing problems as belonging exclusively to students (“they aren’t motivated to learn!”) empowers us as instructors to make changes needed to support learners in terms of “when” feedback is given (frequently, through the learning process), and how its provided (as a tool intended to facilitate short and long term improvement).

There is also a second barrier that is easy to overlook in the discussion of feedback: the “how” of providing feedback. When we have reconceived feedback as part of the learning process as opposed to the end of it, it becomes important to consider how feedback is represented. Instructors who practice UDL may already have recognized the value of using multiple means of representation for teaching content to students, understanding that students benefit from the non-textual representation of information when they are learning new information and skills. However, when it comes to providing feedback on student work, we may still resort to text-centric media including rubrics, marginal notes, or holistic text comments.

Text-based feedback has inherent limitations that may undermine the pursuit of providing mastery-oriented feedback.

  1. Such traditional text-based responses may take a significant amount of instructor time, and thus delay feedback past its optimal window.
  2. Such text-oriented feedback does not immediately lend itself to dialogic give-and-take, which would enable the student to provide and seek clarification as warranted.
  3. Students for whom learning through textual representations is not optimal will struggle to perceive, comprehend, or utilize text-based feedback in the same way that they would struggle with text-based instruction.

One way to simultaneously address the need for mastery-oriented feedback that draws from multiple means of representation in a time efficient way is the use of multimedia feedback.

Multimedia Feedback

Multimedia feedback is the practice of using audio/video to provide substantive feedback to student work. though the practice of offering multimedia feedback for students in higher education is  relatively new, there is evidence to support the efficiency and effectiveness of non-text feedback, as well as students’ positive perceptions regarding such feedback.

Multimedia feedback can take many forms depending on the nature of the work under review, the nature of the feedback being provided, and the needs and preferences of the students and instructor. Some examples of multimedia feedback include audio and/or video recordings of the person providing feedback as well as the use of screen-capture with corresponding audio and video commentary/demonstration.

Screen-capture feedback, in particular, reflects the principles of UDL well and draws from established cognitive theory including “dual coding” theory, which suggests that when information is presented visually and aurally at the same time, it leads to enhanced attention, comprehension, and retention.

Implementing Multimedia Feedback

Implementing multimedia feedback varies somewhat based on the type of feedback one is providing. However, I suggest that a strong frame for practice can be established with the focus on mastery-oriented feedback.

  1. The learner submits work in a digital format (e.g., a document, presentation, image(s), or video).
  2. The one providing feedback reviews the submitted work holistically, making note of specific major things on which to offer feedback (positive and constructive).
  3. Using a screen recording software (e.g., Jing, Screencast-o-Matic, Camtasia…) the one providing feedback records audio as they look at the submitted work, drawing attention to the portions of the work that warrant feedback (by selecting with the mouse, pointing with a cursor, pausing the video, etc). If possible, text-based notes are made prior to or during the recording when corresponding commentary is added verbally.
  4. A link to the recording is provided to the learner and they are given an opportunity to respond to the feedback with further questions and/or actions to address the feedback.

Note that because audio/visual feedback is a far “denser” form of communication than text, this strategy enables richer, more expository feedback in less time, and helps ground the one providing feedback in major things for suggestion and address, rather than over-focusing on non-essential details.

Later, if and when a grade is given on the final work, little or no feedback will be necessary because the purpose of feedback was to support improvement toward mastery, not to justify a grade.

Jump to Mastery Series #3

Learn More:

As always, please reach out to us at with questions, ideas, or to request workshops or support.


Selected Bibliography (Mastery Series): 

Brick, B., & Holmes, J. (2008). Using screen capture software for student feedback: Towards a methodology.

Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M., & Lam, J. (2011). Developing sustainable feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36(4), 395–407.

Denton, D. W. (2014). Using screen capture feedback to improve academic performance. TechTrends, 58(6), 51–56.

Fish, W., & Lumadue, R. (2010). A technologically based approach to providing quality feedback to students: A paradigm shift for the 21st century. Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, 8(1). Retrieved from

Flores, M. A., Simão, A. M. V., Barros, A., & Pereira, D. (2015). Perceptions of effectiveness, fairness and feedback of assessment methods: A study in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 40(9), 1523–1534.

Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C. (n.d.). Does your assessment support your students’ learning?

Hyland, K., & Hyland, F. (2006, August). Interpersonal aspects of response: Constructing and interpreting teacher written feedback.

Jones, N., Georghiades, P., & Gunson, J. (2012). Student feedback via screen capture digital video: Stimulating student’s modified action. Higher Education, 64(5), 593–607.

Li, J., & Luca, R. D. (2014). Review of assessment feedback. Studies in Higher Education, 39(2), 378–393.

Lizzio, A., & Wilson, K. (2008). Feedback on assessment: Students’ perceptions of quality and effectiveness. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 263–275.

Mann, S., & Walsh, S. (2017). Reflective Practice in English Language Teaching : Research-Based Principles and Practices. Routledge.

Mathisen, P. (2012). Video feedback in higher education: A contribution to improving the quality of written feedback. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 7(02), 97–113.

Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199–218.

Orrell, J. (2006). Feedback on learning achievement: Rhetoric and reality. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 441–456.

Pereira, D., Flores, M. A., Simão, A. M. V., & Barros, A. (2016). Effectiveness and relevance of feedback in Higher Education: A study of undergraduate students. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 49, 7–14.

Price, M., Handley, K., Millar, J., & O’Donovan, B. (2010). Feedback: All that effort, but what is the effect? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(3), 277–289.

Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153–189.

Stannard, R. (2008). A new direction in feedback. Retrieved July 13, 2018, from

Stannard, R., & Mann, S. (2018). Using screen capture feedback to establish social presence and increase student engagement: A genuine innovation in feedback. Cases on Audio-Visual Media in Language Education.

Sugita, Y. (2006). The impact of teachers’ comment types on students’ revision. ELT Journal, 60(1), 34–41.

Weaver, M. R. (2006). Do students value feedback? Student perceptions of tutors’ written responses. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(3), 379–394.

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