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Novel assessment on anatomy module inspires reconfiguration of assessment on entire programme 

New type of assessment improves student satisfaction, and leads to outward-facing assessment outputs in all first year modules. 

26 September 2018

Dr Marina-Gonzalez is module lead of Functional Anatomy and Medical Imaging, a first year module of the Applied Medical Science degree at UCL. 

He introduced a novel assessment in which students produced assessment outputs in the form of YouTube videos. 

His data show that this innovative assessment method enhanced student’s learning experience and improved academic performance. 

This project was conducted as part of his work as a Connected Curriculum Fellow in the UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education.

Improving student satisfaction

Here, Dr Marina-Gonzalez explains how his work to address poor student satisfaction related to the assessment in the module has changed the assessment across the entire programme. 

"Functional Anatomy and Medical Imaging is a very short module (four weeks) which must provide a general overview of human anatomy with a focus on functional aspects, while avoiding unnecessary memorization of facts and hundreds of anatomical terms that would soon be forgotten. 

Students creating YouTube interviews with researchers

In the revised assessment approach, students are instructed to create a video documentary (seven mins max.) of a novel imaging technique with special emphasis on its applicability for the study of human anatomy. 

Students are encouraged to interview researchers at UCL and then share their findings in a YouTube video. 

Videos are then presented during a special exam session in front of two examiners and all the students. 

At the end of the video students are encouraged to ask questions related to human anatomy and videos are marked using standard marking criteria.

Watch these videos made by first year students

Nuclear medicine: PET/MRI

Magnetoencephalography

Advaith Functional MRI

We also deployed a motivational strategy: one extra point was awarded in their final exam presentation to those students who gave outstanding performances during the in-class sessions.

Impact of the assessment approach

We compared the effect of this Youtube video assessment modality in two rubrics: 

  1. final exam scores; and 
  2. student satisfaction. 

Our data show that students scored significantly higher marks with Youtube video assessments compared with previous cohorts assessed with a single answer question exam.

Student satisfaction was also greatly increased in the cohort assessed with a video documentary.

Creating youtube videos was a very inspiring activity for the students and made them feel proud of themselves when they saw their final product presented on a large screen in front of all their peers. They were also very happy and honored to have the opportunity of interviewing famous scientists at UCL.

First year Applied Medical Science student Maria Sasaki, said:

“The Youtube video assessment was an interesting method of assessing students. It was less stressful than a Powerpoint presentation for those of us who are nervous presenting in front of an audience. Furthermore, because of my video, I was able to interact with various academics and interview them. However, it should be noted that this was one of the most difficult aspects of the module, especially for those of us who did not have previous video editing skills, as we spent large amounts of time working on video editing compared to video content.”

Introducing outward-facing assessments to all first year modules

The success of this project has led to a change in the assessment approach across the entire programme.

Previously, all modules were assessed through a combination of:

  • multiple choice questions (40% of the total mark); and
  • short answer questions exams (60% of the final mark).

Starting in October 2018, all the modules in year one will be assessed on:

  • multiple choice questions (20% of the total mark); and
  • coursework activities (80% of the total mark).

To make sure there is a balance of assessment types and to avoid bunching of time consuming assignments, we have decided to employ a wide array of traditional coursework activities, such as poster presentations , as well as externally-facing outputs such as:

  • blogs
  • podcasts
  • Youtube videos

Similar outward-facing assessment outputs are to be incorporated in year two and year three modules. Students will eventually collect these outputs in an electronic portfolio that will be assessed holistically, together with their research project at the end of year three. 

My ultimate plan is to disseminate the use of this method among medical schools around the world as an assessment strategy for medical anatomy and medical sciences in general.

Top tips for getting your students to create successful videos for assessment

  • If students feel uncomfortable with producing a Youtube video, give them the opportunity of producing a powerpoint presentation that will be assessed using the same marking criteria.  
  • Make sure your students understand that documentaries are assessed using standard marking criteria and video quality and technical skills are not part of the assessment.
  • Instruct your students to use technology they have at hand, e.g. their own mobile phones, laptops and video-editing software.
  • Spend one or two sessions providing students with basic technical skills including video editing, knowledge about various video editing software and an ability to create a plan of action for making the video. We asked our students to take online courses for video filming, production, animation and script writing for informational videos using Lynda.com (Institutional subscription fee required): https://www.lynda.com/
  • Instruct your students to send the researcher they interviewed a link with the final version of the video and check if the researchers are happy with content accuracy.
  • If your students include interviews with researchers, make sure you obtain written consent from both the student and the researcher before you make the video publicly available on Youtube.

Commentary from UCL Arena Centre Fellow, Dr Brent Carnell

Creating an assessment that asks students to engage with the institution’s research and create a YouTube video can be a motivating and rewarding activity. This encourages students to synthesise complex research in an engaging way, while developing their public engagement and communication skills.

Almost any discipline and level could adopt this approach, especially if the assessment brief stresses that video quality is not being assessed.