This course uses an unconventional approach for assessing student learning roughly termed “ungrading.” You will not receive a “grade” for any single assignment, with only a final course grade registered into Banner. While Professor Mittell will register that grade, he will not assign it—you will. Such self-grading means that students are fully responsible for their own learning, and it is meant to fully sever the link between that learning and the “outcome” of grades. This grade will emerge through ongoing conversations between each student and Professor Mittell; while he reserves the right to alter the grade that a student assigns, it is a sign of mutual trust and shared responsibility for learning that he does not anticipate doing so.

Even though there will not be grades, there will be lots of feedback, evaluation, assessment, and revision—these will all hopefully be channeled toward maximizing learning. Students will write about their learning goals, write self-reflections on their learning, meet with both peers and Professor Mittell to discuss their progress, and undertake revisions based on feedback. In exchange for students’ hard work, Professor Mittell agrees to take however much time is needed to ensure students understand expectations and practices, and are poised to succeed to their desired goals. His goal is to help each student achieve their learning goals, to be transparent about expectations for learning throughout the semester, and to work collaboratively with all students to produce excellent videographic work.

Learning Goals:

All students who pass the course (with a minimum grade of C) will have demonstrated the ability to:

  • Describe and identify major components of video essays, discussing how they convey ideas about films and media
  • Use the basic tools of video and audio editing to create a video essay analyzing film and/or media

Students who achieve a higher level of mastery (with a minimum grade of B) will have also demonstrated the ability to:

  • Analyze how video essays can convey both analytic ideas and explore the poetic and aesthetic material of film and media
  • Produce video essays that express analytical ideas and aesthetic responses
  • Engage in productive peer conversations and critiques of videographic works

Students who achieve the highest level of mastery (with a grade of A) will have also demonstrated the ability to:

  • Create original and distinctive videographic works that convey sophisticated ideas and employs a distinctive aesthetic sensibility


As students develop work throughout the semester, they will each create an individual portfolio of their videographic work on this website (or another site if they prefer). This portfolio will include both embedded videos of their own creation and written commentaries on the work created and the learning process. This portfolio and a more specific written reflection will form the basis for the final conference to determine the course grade.