How To Record Practice Sessions for University and College Assignments

You may need to do more than one take.
You may need to do more than one take. | Source

Student Tips For Successful Practice Session Recordings

I remember my first attempt at recording a practice session for an anger management assignment was so nerve racking it made me physically ill. I recorded the first session with over five minutes to spare and so had to record it again. The second attempt I had a brain freeze and forgot what I was supposed to be talking about so all in all it took four attempts and over three hours to complete. But now, after half a dozen of them on different subjects I feel I have learned a lot that I would love to share with other students facing this for their first time. It is quite normal to be nervous unless you are a seasoned actor used to being in front of a camera or giving interviews every day. However I have discovered that if you havea plan of action it becomes less daunting, saves time and gives you confidence and focus.

Preparation

Before recording your session read through your assignment requirements which will include important information such as

  1. Medium to use (audio only or audio and visual) plus the type of file, say mp4
  2. Length of time for the recording
  3. The skills you need to demonstrate in the practice session

Think about who or what you will need for this session;

  • You may need a person to interview or use as a 'client' so think about who would be best to ask to help you out with your assignment. Using close friends or relatives is not always wise in counselling situations so you might need to look wider. You could approach work colleagues or neighbours for assistance.


  • Do you have access to a tape recorder for audio or a video camera for audio and visual recordings? You may be able to borrow one from a library or hire one from a store.


  • Think carefully about seating and placement of your camera or tape recorder for the best results.


  • Make sure you have fully charged equipment ready to go.


  • Place a clock where you can easily see it so that you know how you are going for your time requirements. Going over or under the allotted time by more than 10% usually attracts a lower mark.

If it is your first attempt at recording a session you may be nervous so it might pay to rehearse a little and to also have a glass of water handy in case of a dry mouth.

It is important that you, the script writer have a good grasp on what to say without overly using the cards. Since you are the one being marked it is important that you keep visual contact with the other person as much as possible. It is no problem if the other person needs to read from the cards as long as the conversation flows and is easily understood.


Writing a Script

If you just press record and hope for the best without any plan whatsoever you will most likely need to redo it because you will either go over your required length of time or under it and both will incur mark deductions.

I strongly suggest you start with a plan or script depending on the subject you have chosen. For subjects relating to humanities such as psychology, counselling or teaching a script works best, so decide on who will be included in your practice session and allocate each person their role and what their conversation will include as per your assignment outline. You will be asked to incorporate particular skills into your session to demonstrate your understanding of the terminology relating to your chosen field of study. As an example; If you are studying to be a counsellor or life coach you may be asked to demonstrate active listening, appropriate assertiveness and an ability to manage your emotions. You will need to address all key criteria so be mindful of this when writing out your script.

Write out the script on index cards with the persons name on each stack and numbered in order. Ask each person to read them through and to give feedback on what they do not understand, know how to pronounce or what feelings to put with the words. When everyone is comfortable you can begin.


Blank index cards are perfect to use for your script writing
Blank index cards are perfect to use for your script writing | Source

Lights, Camera, Action!

  • Write your script on index cards and have all people involved read aloud in turn in front of the camera.
  • Replay the session and note if you think anything needs improvement or change.
  • Check that you have kept within the time constraint. You may need to add or deduct content without affecting the assignment criteria.
  • Check that everyone can be seen and heard (if applicable)

If you are happy after the first attempt you can breathe a sigh of relief and give yourself a pat on the back. Not many get it right the first time around.

However there is no harm in doing it one more time while you have the opportunity and then you will at least have a choice on which one to submit for marking.

Over to You

Hopefully these tips will arm you with ideas to make your first, or next practice session worthy of a high distinction. Good luck and don't forget to relax, breathe and enjoy the experience.

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