Student-generated video creation for the assessment of communication skills

Case study author: Dr Claire Stapleton

School of Allied Health Professions, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

CDF Framework: Authentic Assessment, Technology Enhanced Learning

Project Summary

This authentic assessment requires students to create a video for a simulated patient that provides guidance on one aspect of their physiotherapy management plan. It simulates real life clinical scenarios and allows assessment of the students' ability to communicate as well as building the student's digital literacy across many domains outlined in the Digital Literacy Capability Framework (2018).

Students were presented with patient case scenarios as part of a previous assignment and had already developed a management plan for each one. They were tasked to select one case scenario and create two videos (2-5 minutes duration) of themselves explaining or demonstrating one aspect of their physiotherapy management plan. The two videos should highlight any differing communication strategies that were employed to effectively convey the same aspect of the management plan for 1) an anxious 8 year old girl and 2) an 80 year old male who is hard of hearing.

The assessment was created to replace one intended learning outcome (ILO) from a clinical placement that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ILO required students to demonstrate and compare aspects of effective communication and interactions with patients.

The explicit intended benefit of the task was to induce critical thinking and consideration of how to approach communicating with a patient with differing characteristics in a professional manner. However, choosing video creation during the pandemic lockdown brought about implicit intended benefits related to digital literacy and required the students to consider their home environment for creating professional videos, including suitable backgrounds, lighting, positioning of themselves and the camera and demonstrating exercises from differing angles. These aspects of the task are in keeping with those considerations required for physiotherapists offering telehealth services via video consultations.

Telerehabilitation is a rapidly growing area of healthcare and during the pandemic many services are looking to telehealth as an alternative means of face-to-face consultations. The digital skills developed will help to prepare the students for working in a future healthcare system that embeds the use of technology and video consultations as part of routine care. In addition, the processes involved in video creation, for example in preparing a script, considering how to approach aspects of communication (e.g. body language, voice tone, pitch and pace, facial expressions, language used) and review/editing of material, involves several stages of repetition of the content and therefore may facilitate deeper learning (Bonk & Khoo, 2014; Greene & Crespi, 2012). Other possible benefits of video creation that have been reported include higher levels of enjoyment and motivation resulting in engagement in the learning process.

A key aspect of the Digital Literacy Capability Framework (2018) is promoting positive attitudes towards change, technology and innovation. Evaluation of this assessment demonstrated a shift in how comfortable students feel when working with new technology; prior to the task 26% reported feeling 'uncomfortable' compared to 8.6% after the task. In addition, prior to the task, confidence levels in each of the task components matched experience levels; after the task students reported higher levels of confidence in all technical aspects of video creation and submission (e.g. recording themselves, using specialised software for recording and editing, saving a video file to google drive, creating a hyperlink for a file) as well as communication as a health professional (e.g. providing patient instruction, communicating with an anxious child/elderly person with hearing difficulties).

Communication and digital literacy are key skills across all healthcare professions. Information sharing in today's world increasingly relies upon a combination of these two skills. Therefore, the ability to communicate effectively using digital media is increasingly critical for the current generation of all healthcare students (NMC, 2016; Schrum et al., 2017). As such, the value of this assessment could easily be transferred across disciplines and contexts.