Guidance for King’s College London staff in supporting students to engage with oral assessments
This guidance is to support all staff involved in modules where there is an oral assessment as part of the summative assessment load. While it is recognised that all assessments would benefit from similar guidance, this is an important step in King’s ongoing commitment to Inclusive Education, where the focus is on ensuring we create a teaching environment that supports students to engage with oral assessments, embedding opportunities for skills development and check ins on wellbeing. Scenarios include:
- Live presentations to an audience, e.g. PPT, pitch, pecha kucha
- Crits, gobbets and other discipline specific oral assessments
- Modules where participation is summatively graded through oral contribution should also be considered. For more specific guidance on this type of assessment, contact Kingsfirstname.lastname@example.org
It is recognised that presentations have strong benefits to students in terms of life-long learning and skills, and students should be encouraged and supported to engage with them. It is not recommended that students opt for an alternative arrangement in the first instance, unless there is a disability known to impact engagement, or it is apparent from the students’ engagement/behaviour that they are in a state of heightened anxiety In such cases, the student should be supported to create a plan of engagement for immediate and future oral assessments. This guidance offers
- approaches to build inclusive practices for all students;
- options to help staff consider alternatives where a student is identified as being unable to complete the assessment, despite attempts to remove barriers to engagement as much as possible;
- signposting support for staff when advice is needed or there is cause for concern.
The guidance is intended to be a step-by-step procedure for supporting students and is divided into things you need to consider before, during and after the module has been run.
BEFORE THE MODULE– assessment design and communication
|Assessment patterns need to be advertised at the time students select modules for compliance with Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Is the assessment requirement really clear on your module pages so that student know what they will have to do – and when – before they take the module?
|If your department or faculty has specific support for students to enhance their skills in preparation for the assessment, this should be made clear in module communication.|
|Core learning outcomes relating to competency standards which must be assessed due to regulatory body requirements should be clear to students on all module information. When designing assessments, consider what learning outcomes students need to meet and what can be done in a different way to afford a student the best opportunity to demonstrate the learning/skills without a disadvantage to long term student learning? (AdvanceHE has some useful guidance here)
|Provide students with a (limited) choice of assessment outputs which align with the learning outcomes within module parameters. See this resource for support.
|Have alternative arrangement options ready for those students who may need them later (some students will be identified as unable to engage despite support offered- see during the module).
For group work, consider whether everyone has to present live in order for them to meet the learning outcomes. Perhaps if the work itself rather than communication skills are key, students could be allowed to choose/allocate roles or modes of delivery which makes them more comfortable.
|Taking a programme approach to assessment design: do the learning outcomes have to be met by a presentation on this module or where might it be more appropriate at another point in the programme? Taking a programme overview allows us to see where students might be over-assessed through certain assessment types.
Taking a programme approach to skills building: for example: students might prepare a slide deck in term 1 of a first-year course to cover content, pre-record a presentation in term 2 and do a live presentation in their second year to develop skills incrementally.
DURING the module: supporting your students
|Setting expectations and providing a welcoming environment
Acknowledge that oral assessment can be stressful, and nervousness is normal for many.
Highlight the opportunities for students to raise concerns/talk to staff.
Be cautious with language used, such as ‘anxiety’, so as not to inadvertently pathologise or overemphasise normal nerves/feelings.
Discuss and document ways that the broader classroom environment might be supportive of those making oral presentations, e.g. paying attention, engaging constructively etc
You may want to share examples of your own experience of presenting or how you overcame nerves.
Allowing students to share their prior experience of presenting (in English or another language, and in an academic or other context) in groups could alleviate their concerns and make them feel like they are not alone.
Students could discuss and rank their top tips for overcoming any challenges or concerns which could be shared in a plenary.
|Providing clear information at the start of the module
Clarify the purpose of the assessment in terms of learning outcomes and benefits of oral presentation in terms of skills gained, highlighting how these skills would support future employment applications and activity.
Clarify the format of assessment- time, Q&A, role allocation if group work (is everyone expected to present live as part of the grade?)
Go through the assessment criteria (how much weight is placed on different aspects of the assessment, e.g. content, critical thinking, use of sources, delivery, clarity of expression, and presentation skills) and expectations. For group presentations, clarify how individual and group elements will be assessed/weighted.
Signpost students to the Careers consultant teams within your faculties for anyone who wants to discuss employability skills for various careers in their discipline. This article gives some good suggestions about how you can develop these skills for your employability. Learn more about how to enhance your presentation skills as part of preparation for interviews and assessment centres via KEATS.
Provide a template for students to help them break down the assessment and manage their time and (for a group presentation), their role(s).
Lead a short discussion on how preparing for a presentation differs from preparing for a written assessment.
You can suggest they use the Presentation Plan available on King’s Academic Skills for Learning via KEATS (self-enrol first time only): https://keats.kcl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=62510
|Build in opportunities within the module to identify students’ preparedness for presentations
Be aware that students might raise concerns in different ways and at different times. Remind students about office hours etc.
Signpost students to resources: Encourage students to look at the King’s Academic Skills for Learning online self-study resource on Presenting at University [https://keats.kcl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=62510] (self-enrol first time only).
Provide opportunities for early skills building practice and feedback through ‘formative assessment’ tasks. For example, a small task at the start of a module such as asking students to present something short on a familiar topic and give each other constructive feedback in small groups.
Devise a short questionnaire or quiz for students to fill out about how prepared they are feeling for their assessment. This could be repeated after various scaffolding tasks to give learners a sense of progress.
|Active learning and formative assessment practice
|You may not be able to do all of these but some should be integrated:
Put students in critical friend groups to practice together in or outside of class.
Share tips for presenting, group turn taking, note cards etc.
Where possible, let students make choices about topics, cases etc to foster intrinsic motivation and ownership.
Peer feedback, ‘snowballing’ so first in pairs and then in small groups.
|Have students from different cohorts come in to talk to current cohort and share their experiences or lead groups in practice. You could use previous cohorts’ anonymous advice in the learning materials for the next cohort, as long as students agree.
Deconstructing examples of good and bad presentations using the criteria. Here is a case study from Forensic Psychology:
Give students feedback templates to fill in to help scaffold constructive feedback.
|Making assessment arrangements when there are concerns for the students wellbeing and /or when the above support structures are not sufficient
|a). When the student is displaying behaviours that cause concern for their wellbeing, or they are not responding positively to suggestions to support engagement, we suggest a Support for Study stage two meeting is arranged. You will be supported by colleagues in support roles to consider with the student possible options.
b). When you know in advance, due to disability, the student has informed you of heightened anxiety, or it is apparent from the student’s engagement they are in a state of heightened anxiety, alternative supported engagement would be appropriate. Options include:
-Offer a narrated PPT/recording (with or without camera).
-Consider a one-to-one presentation with an assessor. This could be incremental so the first occasion it is with the assessor and a trusted peer or non-medical helper such as a Mentor. The intention is to work with the student to build confidence and skills.
-Type a transcript to be played alongside the presentation, or read by someone else.
-For group work, where students are required to present, the student could record their part and have it assessed live on the day or separately by the assessor. These should be offered to the students clearly and negotiated where possible.
c). When it is last minute or a student is unable to participate on the day, check whether presenting to you alone at the end would be possible, and if not defer the assessment to a later date. Work with the student to see what methods of prompts and coaching would support or and suggest the options of engagement in a) above, offering them another slot in a 121 basis later.
d. If you have serious and immediate concerns about a student’s wellbeing, use the Students of Concern procedure to get support from Student Services. Consider what you can do in the short term to alleviate the immediate pressures. this may include:
· Deferring the assessment and helping the student to submit a mitigating circumstances form (MCF) if needed;
· Checking what other assessments may be coming up, how the student is feeling about those and whether additional MCFs need submitting;
· Supporting the student to find an appropriate space to get wider support, such as through the Faculty Wellbeing Adviser, Personal Tutor, etc.
If you want to discuss bespoke options for a disabled student, you can email email@example.com and an adviser will be able to support.
AFTER THE MODULE: evaluating your approach
|Review module evaluation scores and comments
Discuss with colleagues the patterns of difficulty your students experienced and review cohort feedback and any external examiner comments.
Review data from any in-class polls.
Review the numbers of MCFs submitted for oral asssessments
Add as an item for discussion and review at a Staff Student Liaison Committee (or similar) and partner with your students to understand the data.
Identify common themes that you could feed forward into enhancements to your module design or assessment implementation.
Include whole-cohort feedback and/or anonymous student presentation tips from the previous cohort to your next iteration.
If you have an example of good practice in relation to some of the above ideas or others that you would like to share with the College community, on Assessment for Learning at King’s please contact Jayne.firstname.lastname@example.org. You might also like to contact the Inclusive Education Network to present.