Imagine you have assigned a project to a group of students. One of the members of the group is able to take the ideas of her peers and apply them to everything you taught in lecture. Another walks into the group imposing ideas on her peers that are out of step with class content. Every classroom has these two students. Who, in your eyes, will demonstrate greater success in bringing the project to completion?
According to a study by Wonderlic, 93% of employers make hiring decisions based on the strength of an individual’s soft skills. Soft skills—also referred to as “people skills” or “emotional intelligence”—represent the ability to think critically, communicate effectively and create amicable relationships with others, just like the first student in our example above. Developing these skills in today’s classrooms is more important than ever.
Traditionally, it’s been the professor’s responsibility to teach soft skills during class time; any readings and ancillary materials were only responsible for delivering content. To remove this burden, Top Hat now lets you build special video questions into your learning materials, allowing you to assess communication and emotional intelligence more quickly—meaning that you can place greater emphasis and time on delivering content knowledge in class.
Here are three great existing examples of how educators have used video response assessments in their courses and content to foster soft skill development.
1. Group project discussions
2. Question with a video answer
3. Allowing for peer-to-peer feedback
Professor George Griffin uses Top Hat video in group work for students taking his Public Speaking course. As part of one chapter in his Effective Public Speaking Top Hat textbook, he randomly assigns his students into groups, and prompts them to watch a video he himself created. The students, as a group, must then comment on any signs of confidence and nervousness he demonstrates.
Most students struggle to find extra time after class to meet with their peers to finish a group project. Giving students opportunities to discuss and debate asynchronously can address this challenge, creating opportunities for them to practice working effectively in a team setting without too much coordination.
Professor Tony Erben, in his Introductory Spanish class, asks students to read passages in his Top Hat textbook and then asks questions that require 20-second verbal responses in Spanish. This enables him to simultaneously monitor the students’ progress and assess their pronunciation.
His approach, putting learners on the spot to verbally answer questions in a limited timeframe, is proving an effective solution to improve students’ communication and critical thinking skills.
As an addition to the above two assignment types, another opportunity to provide students with a deeper layer of learning without having to create a whole new assignment is peer-to-peer feedback. Students can simply be tasked with providing positive and constructive feedback to their peers’ work.
According to Ertmer et al. (2007), peer-to-peer feedback has long been recognized for its ability to improve listening, verbal and written skills as well as help students achieve a higher understanding of content. In large classes, opportunities that leverage peer assessment aren’t easy to implement. But with the right tools, this function can be made straightforward for all.
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