The 'Group Video Essay' is used on the module American Horror Story: US Gothic Cultures, 1790 to the Present' in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies. It's run as a collaborative project completed by teams of 3 to 6 final-year students, due at the end of term 2. Importantly, it also comes between two long individual essays (one due at the start of term 2, one due in term 3), and in this respect serves to bring the student cohort together as the module's teaching is coming to an end. This has two benefits: it solidifies the overall module identity and sense of community and allows students to collectively reflect on their learning at the end of the syllabus.
The assessment takes the form of creative-critical work: creative in the sense of not being limited to the form of a conventional academic expository essay, but critical in the sense of being driven primarily by an expository essay’s goals of intellectual presentation and persuasion. The teams create a video of 3-6 minutes in length, oriented around their choice from a list of 'keywords' we provide related to the conceptual and thematic currents of the module. The results, mixing media and literary studies, critical theory, and textual/visual analysis, have often been brilliantly conceived and executed, as well as genuinely creative.
This is an example of the students' work created in this Module...
One of the expected challenges -- that students would need large amounts of technical support -- has not materialised, and in fact the task has revealed just how much the existing digital skills amongst the student cohort can be utilised and encouraged. The primary challenges around the administration of the assessment have been deciding how to assign a 'collective' mark for the final product (something we are still reviewing for next year) and working within Tabula's restricted abilities to deal with non-standard assessments. Overall, however, students have embraced the chance to pick up some new skills, bring together their existing talents and interests in collaboration with peers, and work as a team on a product that for many of them will be a useful addition to portfolios and CVs.
Want to see more like this?
Take a look at the other modules with digital assessment and the amazing work created by their students.