Video narratives and democratic assessment in higher education – lessons from physical education

Helen Caldwell

Helen Caldwell

Dr Julia Sargent from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University introduces her recent TPEA journal article on students’ perceptions of democratic assessment practices through video narratives.
Image: Crop smiling ethnic blogger recording video on smartphone on street · Free Stock Photo (

There are many different types of digital technologies that are used for educational purposes in higher education. For example, you might see lecture capture, use of a virtual learning environment such as ‘Moodle’ or ‘Blackboard’ and the use of apps. The application of these different technologies is dependent on a variety of different factors such as the subject discipline in terms of the content, the teacher and the students to name but a few.
Within the subject of physical education, the use of digital technologies such as iPads and virtual games have been growing in recent years. The use of which has reported benefits in terms of student engagement, professional development and supporting movement. Videos are one such technology that has been used in physical education to capture student performances for both summative and formative assessment.
In our article, we looked at students’ perceptions of democratic assessment practices through video narratives. This type of video is sometimes called digital storytelling. College-aged students were taught through democratic methods (i.e. creative, reciprocal and authentic approaches to teaching and assessment as a form of dialogue and social process). What we learnt from our study is that the combination of democratic assessment and video narratives elevated students’ self-awareness, emotive affective responses (i.e. vulnerable, expressive), a presentation of the self (which we termed a performative act) and an authentic experience of the subject. Students were also able to draw out that they felt the process would help them to develop employability skills.
These possible outcomes for students are not confined to the subject of physical education. Indeed, any of these responses could be viewed as interesting and beneficial outcomes for students regardless of the subject context. Assessment is at the heart of our practices as it allows a continuous dialogue between the student and the teachers. Seeking to create authentic and meaningful assessment practices (and using technology as a tool to support us with this practice) is likely to benefit our students in higher education and one that we challenge educators to strive towards.

Article: Julia Sargent & Shrehan Lynch (2021) ‘None of my other teachers know my face/emotions/thoughts’: digital technology and democratic assessment practices in higher education physical education, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 30(5), pp. 693-705 DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2021.1942972

Julia is a Lecturer who has been working in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University since 2018. She works in the curriculum team designing online and managing online courses. Her role is mainly focused on the use of technology to enhance learning and digital pedagogies to support staff development, scholarship and distance education.