Interactive oral assessment

Interactive oral assessment (IOA) is an authentic assessment approach that involves a genuine, unscripted conversation between an assessor and a student(s) framed around a workplace scenario (Sotiriadou et al., 2020).

When to use an Interactive Oral

An Interactive Oral can be used for any subject, in any discipline, from undergraduate to postgraduate levels.

It is implemented as an individual task, and can be either a formative or a summative assessment. It can be administered synchronously or asynchronously, and face-to-face or online (Logan et al., 2020).

Advantages and limitations

The IOs help to enhance student engagement and outcomes, as well as employability skills whilst improving academic integrity (Sotiriadou et al., 2020). Academics are assured of their students’ knowledge and skills, and graduate attributes (Sotiriadou et al., 2020) in a way that cannot be evidenced in other traditional forms of assessment.

It allows the assessor to explore the depth of student knowledge by asking questions to probe their understanding. As the task is built around an authentic scenario, knowledge is applied and adapted, and critical thinking is required to provide the responses. There is opportunity for both critical and creative thinking to be demonstrated.

The subject design is crucial in ensuring success in an Interactive Oral Assessment task. Planning learning experiences that build the skills and rehearse the process is key to its success. Earlier assessment tasks can also scaffold the learning in readiness for the oral task.

Marking is done in-situ, and this reduces load on the academic. Writing the rubric well guides the types of questions that will be asked. The assessor needs to be able to facilitate the conversation, and ensure it is interactive.

Students find the tasks rewarding and less stressful because they are able to explain their thinking.

Things to keep in mind

Embedding an Interactive Oral assessment involves re-design of all the assessments in the subject to scaffold student learning and skill development. The task for the IOA should be designed to represent authentic workplace situations in-line with the course and discipline. A detailed rubric should be developed to ensure clarity for students and ease of marking.

Specific resources should be developed to familiarise students with an IO, to clarify expectations, and plan in-class practice activities.

Resources to support using IO Assessment Tasks

A variety of resources are available for academics considering embedding IOs in their subjects. This includes subject design samples, task descriptions, rubrics, exemplars, instructions on uploading rubrics to the grade centre, suggested practice activities, instructions for students et al.

To familiarise yourself with this assessment approach, please review the ‘Interactive Orals – Module for Markers’ organisation site in Interact2.

You are also invited to review the resources in the ‘Interactive Orals Sandpit’ organisation site in Interact2. An existing  ‘Community of Practice on Interactive Orals’ provides ongoing support and collegial discussion.