Video Mash-Up (Higher Ed)

For mash-ups, students research a climate change science topic in the primary literature, write a narration, and use existing visuals and media resources to create a 4-5 minute media piece that explains their topic. This assignment can be done with minimal use of in-class time. It does not include shooting film, so the only resources needed are computers and editing software, although a microphone and audio editing software can be helpful.

Juliette Rooney-Varga, UMass Lowell

Video mash-up projects are readily incorporated into science courses. They are information-dense, require little or no in-class time group work, do not require a production phase, and provide an effective jigsaw mechanism for students to learn from each other.

Learning Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

A main goal of this assignment is for students to gain sufficient mastery of an area of climate change science that they can explain it to others, through images, sound, and narrative.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This assignment involves synthesis of concepts, adapting and creating visual representations of concepts, and critical thinking.

Other skills goals for this activity

This assignment includes many twenty-first century literacy skills, such as: online research, writing, finding and creating visual assets, video editing, social learning and teamwork, and presentation skills.

Context for Use


Like a term paper, video mash-ups can be adapted to a broad range course levels, from high school to upper level undergraduate science courses, by adjusting the information sources, complexity, and depth at which a topic is covered. For example, high school students may be provided with an accessible textbook, review article, or website, while undergraduate students can be asked to search and review relevant peer-reviewed scientific articles. In both cases, students write a script and find or create relevant visual assets to convey the concepts they present.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This assignment can be an effective means to gain mastery of concepts, as students are effectively learning by ‘teaching’ others through production of their video. Skills required before beginning the assignment depend on how science content is delivered to students. E.g., if they are expected to rely heavily on peer-reviewed scientific literature, they must have the information technology and science literacy skills associated with searching and understanding that literature.

How the activity is situated in the course

Video mash-up projects are effectively used as a culminating or term project.

Teaching Notes and Tips

While not entirely necessary, asking students to create a map of the system or topic they are researching is an effective means to ensure that they have a shared understanding of the material and overcome misconceptions. It can also provide a tool for dividing work amongst team members.

It is very important to include a rough-cut component of the assignment so that any scientific inaccuracies can be corrected. Perhaps equally importantly, having a class session in which rough cuts are viewed ‘gallery style’ (at computers) by classmates provides a vehicle for students to critique each others’ work, share resources, and engage in a jigsaw learning activity.


In the pre-production phase, assessment can mirror traditional scientific writing assignments, based on the quality of the literature review, an appropriate bibliography, synthesis and writing style of a narrative, and identification of appropriate visual resources in a storyboard.

Assessment of videos can include how effectively and accurately visual and audio components communicate scientific content.

Lastly, offering students an opportunity to critique their team members can provide a means to incorporate their feedback into assessment of individuals working together.

Teaching Materials

Student Handout for Video Mash-Up Assignment (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 645kB Nov22 13)