Transforming Feedback Practices with Screencast Video

By Sarah DeCapua & Heon Jeon 

On February 28, we had the pleasure of co-leading a workshop for FYW instructors called “Transforming Feedback Practices through the Use of Screencast Video Feedback in Second Language (L2) Writing Classrooms.” This workshop came about as a result of our investigation into using screencast video feedback to respond to students’ draft writing. Specifically, by screencast video feedback, we refer to a type of multimodal feedback where instructors provide “recorded spoken comments on student work with the added provision of a video of the paper on the screen where the instructor can gesture, highlight, and show areas of the work being spoken about” (Cunningham, 2019, p. 224). We chose to investigate screencast video feedback because we questioned our feedback practices, particularly the usefulness of our feedback to the students and whether it resulted in meaningful revision on the students’ part. As a result, we pursued literature about alternatives to our traditional methods of providing feedback: end and/or marginal written comments, writing conferences, and in-class workshops. We decided to read scholarship on different types of feedback, with an eye toward transforming our feedback practices in a way that would be more constructive for us and, especially, to our students. Our deep-dive into extant scholarship on feedback for draft writing led us to pursue screencast video feedback. The semester-long investigation into screencast video feedback on our students’ drafts in ENG 1003 (Sarah) and ENG 1004 (Heon), which took place in Spring 2022–during pandemic distance learning–resulted in a teaching-focused article that will appear in this Spring’s Journal of Response to Writing, as well as a proposed follow-up study planned for Fall 2024, which is currently under IRB review. Although our investigation focused on second language writers, our work is applicable to classrooms populated by monolingual writers.   

During the workshop, we shared with attendees the procedures we followed during our investigation, which began with selecting a screencast video software that was free, user-friendly, and widely available, not just to us and our students, but to anyone who may wish to replicate our process. We chose Screencast-O-Matic, now known as Screenpal ( Next, we read students’ drafts alongside the grading rubric (Heon’s assignment) or evaluative criteria (Sarah’s assignment). We took notes on our students’ drafts to indicate what we wanted to show students in the screencasts. After that preparation, we recorded the screencasts, uploaded them to Kaltura in HuskyCT for auto-captioning, edited the auto-generated captions, then uploaded the screencasts to each individual student’s submission. If this sounds like a lot of work, it was! (More on that later.) 

We think the best part of the workshop was the activity during which attendees had an opportunity to create their own sample screencasts. It was not just a chance for those who were unfamiliar with the software to use it, but the activity also provided attendees the benefit of experiencing what we did when we began our foray into screencasting: reluctance that bordered on resistance to make a screencast; discomfort with recording ourselves giving feedback (then hearing ourselves played back); a tendency to use filler words, such as “um” and “ah” that we feared would be distracting to the students; and the realization that screencasting is time-consuming. Nevertheless, workshop participants soldiered on and created their own screencasts, after which we regrouped for discussion and Q&A. Some of the excellent questions we received were: 

  • Did we see meaningful revision by students following screencast video feedback?  
  • Do we use video and screencast video simultaneously?     
  • What do the students see when the instructor posts a screencast–i.e., the video itself or a link to the video?  
  • We had a great conversation about the do’s and don’ts of screencast video feedback and how our experience with it affected the ways we provide feedback to our students.  

Ultimately, among the implications we shared were:  

  1. The process of creating screencast videos is very time-consuming, so we don’t recommend using them for all drafts of all assignments in all your classes. As we mentioned earlier, screencasting is very time-consuming. Choose wisely which of your classes and which assignment draft would most benefit from your screencast videos. Pro tip: The multilingual writers in our investigation were enthusiastic about receiving video feedback, in part because it was captioned and they could retain the videos and return to them as often as needed during their revision process.  
  1. Practice and preparation for screencasting is crucial, especially to keep the screencast at no more than 6 minutes (the recommended time limit in the scholarship we consulted). 
  1. Organizing a “feedback innovation community” in writing programs would be a meaningful attempt to challenge and problematize instructors’ current feedback practices and bring about more effective feedback practices that meet instructors’ own teaching contexts.   

We enjoyed offering this workshop and thank those who attended, as well as those who were unable to attend but have reached out to us to express their interest in knowing more about our investigation into screencast video feedback. When our article is published in the Journal of Response to Writing, we’ll share the link in the FYW Digest so you can find out more and consult our sources.