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Enhancing self assessment and parent involvement through online learning stories

Tags: Assessment | English | Multimedia – graphics/animation | Multimedia – video | Primary | Upper primary |

St Mary’s Catholic School in Tauranga trialled a system of online reporting using screen recording and casting. They wanted a system that supported student self-assessment and increased parents’ understanding and involvement in formative assessment.

"In our school, e-learning is part of effective cycles of reflection and assessment, involving the wider community. "
eLPF 2014

Assessment for learning

Teachers at St Mary’s wanted to change the way that they reported student achievement in writing. This decision was based on:

  • a school-wide focus on writing
  • a desire to develop effective assessment practice
  • a desire for increased parent understanding and involvement in the assessment process
  • assessment research.

Staff decided to report to parents using an online "learning story". This story showcased a student’s written sample and included a recorded conversation between the teacher and student about the work. Parents were invited to leave comments.

They used screen capture software  to record screen images and create short videos of active computer screens, with or without sound recordings. Screencast allows users to share content using instant messaging, email, or social media.  

The new reporting system was built on the understanding that effective assessment should support teaching and learning goals, and involve students.

"In reporting there is a need to consider how to create ‘student voice’ because students, as learners, know the most about their learning. Effective reporting systems will be ones where ‘student voice’ is an integral part of the reporting process."

Taylor-Patel 2009

"Students’ reflection on their own work, in their own voice, with their own intonations and expressions, conveys meaning in a manner which is simply not possible in written form."

Capturing student work and conveying student voice

Teachers scanned and uploaded students’ draft writing samples into a learning story template. Then they conducted and recorded learning conversations with students about their written work, capturing work samples and conversations. During the learning conversation, teachers allowed a dialogue to develop using preplanned questions to prompt the child’s reflective thoughts. These included questions such as:

  • How do you feel about your writing?
  • What part of your writing are you pleased with? Why?
  • What part of your writing do you think you might need help with? Why?
  • How do you want the audience to feel when they read your writing?
  • What other words could you have used for ...?
  • What will you do next?


Using screencasting as an assessment system was a successful strategy for improving assessment practice. It enabled information to be used for learning and maintaining partnerships with families. It encouraged students to reflect on their own learning processes.

Next steps

Ongoing action the school will take:

  • Continue to develop and recognise the value of reflective conversations as evidence for reporting and assessment.
  • Encourage the regular practice of reflective conversations.
  • Develop a school-wide structure and model that will facilitate “assessment capable” students, teachers, and parents.