Talk to any teacher, hospitality manager or healthcare professional and they’ll tell you that communication and interpersonal skills are an essential part of their practice. One of the most effective ways to develop these skills is through the use of video reflection and feedback – an instructional approach in which learners view recordings of themselves and their peers and evaluate and discuss their performance. This enables learners to focus on professional behaviours, be they more holistic skills or concrete microbehaviours. For example, a nurse could watch recordings of his interactions with a simulated patient and rate himself on how sensitive or kind he is towards the patient. Elsewhere, a teacher might count how many open questions she asks over the course of a lesson, or a restaurant manager may examine how closely she applies the different stages of a communication model when handling a customer complaint.
In any professional training programme, video reflection and feedback can help learners analyse not only verbal aspects of communication (i.e. what is being said) but also how paralingual aspects (e.g. tone, pace and volume) and non-verbal aspects (posture, eye contact and gestures) affect the overall message. Focusing on these aspects is key to developing a variety of professional communication skills: receptive (e.g. asking open questions or looking at the other person to gather information), informative (e.g. explaining things clearly and calmly) and relational (e.g. asking about the other person’s experiences and using appropriate body language to show empathy and develop an emotional bond).
In order to really improve performance, video reflection and feedback needs to emphasise positive empowerment, focusing on what learners are doing well. Any negative feedback should focus on specific behaviours, rather than the person. To make sure comments are specific and detailed, learners should use a structured evaluation form. It’s important that they understand the evaluation criteria, so it’s good practice to involve learners in writing and agreeing on these before recording. It’s also helpful to give learners space to reflect on their own performance first, before receiving feedback from a peer.
Video offers a number of technical possibilities which make it an ideal tool for reflection and feedback. Learners can play recordings in slow motion or at a faster speed; pause to focus on specific moments in an interaction; review images without sound, or replay audio without pictures; use a split-screen technique to show the impact of behaviour on another person; edit recordings to focus on part of an interaction; or join recordings together to show development over time. Modern video recording and sharing platforms, such as IRIS Connect, VEO, Echo360 and Panopto, also allow learners to post time-stamped comments at specific points in a recording to facilitate reflection and discussion. This is supported by a variety of additional platform-specific features, including a customisable digital evaluation form (IRIS Connect), ‘tags’ to count microbehaviours or time activities (VEO), or the ability to search automatically-generated transcripts by keyword (Panopto and Echo360).
Recently, faculty members at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University have begun using Panopto to facilitate reflection and feedback, most notably in the School of Optometry, to build students’ confidence in interacting with patients, and in the English Language Centre, to develop presentation skills. Over the next few years, it is hoped that this approach will be used much more widely in other disciplines, including nursing, rehabilitation science, marketing, and hotel and tourism management. It also has the potential to support faculty development.
Dave delivered a much appreciated workshop on this topic at the recent Media & Learning Conference, you can find his notes and presentation slides on our online programme, Just navigate to 14:30 on Wednesday 5 June in the Paviljoenenzaal.
Educational Development Officer, Educational Development Centre, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,