A Comparative Analysis of the Comprehension of Text and Screencast Feedback by Distance Learning Students

Penn, Simon (2024). A Comparative Analysis of the Comprehension of Text and Screencast Feedback by Distance Learning Students. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0001759c


Students in Higher Education often struggle to understand feedback on their assignments, limiting their opportunity to learn and improve. Several key factors, including the depth of feedback, the language used, and the quality of dialogue can influence a student’s comprehension of feedback. The medium used to deliver the feedback can impact all these factors. Electronic text feedback is criticised for being formal and lacking explanations, while screencast feedback is perceived to be more personal and provide more depth, making it easier to understand. Despite these differences, no study has quantitatively compared comprehension levels between these media. Therefore, using a mixed-methods quasi-experimental approach, this study compared 10 first-year distance learning undergraduate students’ comprehension of text and screencast feedback to determine the impact of the medium.

Results demonstrated that screencast feedback was easier to understand, with 99% of comments understood compared to 88% of text comments. Feedback analysis revealed that the screencast medium offered more depth and was more focused on student strengths. Survey and interview data showed that students perceived both media positively, but screencast feedback was considered easier to understand by both students and tutors due to its additional depth, and the ability to see and hear the feedback. Participants also felt that screencast feedback was more positive, personal, and embodied the feedback process creating a stronger sense of connection and providing more encouragement and support which are important for distance learning. Although all participants perceived screencast feedback positively, a change to this medium was not universally welcomed.

Overall, this study highlights the importance of considering the medium used to deliver feedback. Screencast feedback is easier to understand and affords important socio-affective benefits for distance learning that cannot be supplied through text feedback. These results can inform the design of feedback delivery methods to enhance student learning and development.

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