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Authentic Assessment/ Lab Practicum (Video format)

Gail B. Wortmann
Ottumwa High School
Ottumwa, IA

Type of Entry:

Lesson/Class Activity

Type of Activity:

Authentic Assessment/ Lab Practicum (Video format)

Target Audience:

Anatomy/Physiology; Biology


This activity is designed to function as an authentic assessment format after the study of any laboratory activity (or a group of labs). It's purpose is to replace the lab practicum when it is not possible to do a real set-up and/or to serve as a make-up lab practicum. Its objective is to improve the evaluation of the lab component of your course, to increase time on task during labs, and to increase the attention paid to the lab part of a course.


Notes for the teacher:

This suggestion for a lab practicum is to videotape segments of the labs that students are doing as well as audio-visuals that the students are accessing during a given unit. Anything video-tapeable can be used as a part of the lab practicum for a unit. Those video clips are then used to create a videotest to be shown to the students from which they answer questions.

Materials needed:

Recording VCR, videocamera (use for voice-over, audio-dub), playback VCR, computer to generate question screens (can range from an Apple II to an AV Mac; could use an analog to digital signal converter such as a TVator) and various adaptors to allow machines to be hooked-up. Optional equipment includes: microscopy camera, laser disc player, editing machine (assembly edit), cassette player (can add background music), a digitizer (digital camera) and software.

Preparation time needed:

Time will be needed to videotape the students while they are doing the labs. I usually keep an eye out for excellent specimens or well-done set-ups and tape them during the classtime so they do not have to be set up again later. Taping them in the order to be given on the test will help save time. Including students in the taped segments improves the final results.

Questions then need to be written to go with the video shots. These can also be videotaped by using a computer to generate question screens. A program such as VideoCompanion by Broderbund can be used with an Apple II computer and taped by plugging it into the RCA socket of a VCR (video in). Other programs that can be used to generate question screens are any presentation software such as Powerpoint or Aldus Persuasion. If it is an AV Mac, simply plug the machine into a VCR and tape the question screens ("slides"). If not, you could use an analog to digital converting device such as a TVator that could be plugged into the VCR.

When the question screens and video segments are ready, the assembly begins. This can be accomplished with a recording VCR and a playback VCR plugged into each other, or one could use an editing machine if available. A final tape is made by copying the question screen followed by its corresponding video segment onto a new "blacked" tape. (A "blacked" tape is one that has had the tape tracks set by recording on it with no video feed from another source. This results in a "black" tape. It gives the best results when using an editing machine later.)

After the test is finished, a voice-over can be done to give the test an audio component. This voice-over can be done in a videocamera using the audio-dub setting, or it can also be done with editing equipment. The voice-over should include the question read aloud for the aid of auditory students and can also include background music if so desired. The background music can be supplied in various ways. (At first, I used to sit in my van with a background cassette playing in the tape deck while I did audio-dub on a videocamera that had the videotest tape playing. - What a sound studio!!) Now I use an editing machine for this part.

Finally, question sheets need to be generated for the students. If you are using multiple choice test questions, the question stem should appear in writing along with the answer choices available to the student. If you are using short-answer questions, you should give the questions in writing and leave available time for answering. I try to time the videotests so I do not have to stop them or back them up for students. If adequate time between questions is given, playing them through once should be enough.

Related Addresses:

The Scope Shoppe, Inc. (possible source for a videomicroscopy camera)
113 Read St., P.O. Box 1208
Elburn, IL 60119
(708) 365-9499

VCR Companion by Broderbund (program to make "slides" for the Apple II series)
Educational Resources
550 Executive Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
(around $40)

Aldus Persuasion (program to make "slides" for the Mac)
Silicon Beach Software
P.O. Box 261430
San Diego, CA 92196-1430

TV-ator (converts analog digital signal from computer to analog signal for VCR)
Antec, Inc.
2859 Bayview Dr.
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 770-1200

Additional Ideas:

Scenarios could also be used in a videotest. A situation, dilemma, or problem could be posed with open-ended answers requested.

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