Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
||Assessment by Viva Voce
||School of Environment, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education,
Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ, UK
||+44 (0)1242 543495
||+44 (0)1242 543273
Several years ago, during the initiation of a modular degree scheme, staff at the Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education were encouraged by HMI assessors to be more innovative with assessment practices, by introducing different forms of assessment such as posters and presentations.
It was difficult to set a practical exam for 'Petroleum Technology' which tested the students without being too unfair; some other assessment methods were found to have been too difficult for the less able students, but did not stretch the more able students. The viva voce examination was eventually used for the module because: it is a useful method of finding out exactly how much a student knows; questions can be changed at the time to take account of student abilities; it provides practice in interactive questioning/answering, which enhances the skills necessary for job interview technique.
Students are asked questions on the theory and practice of petroleum geology. An example question sheet is available prior to the viva. Students have the opportunity for an optional trial run in the week prior to the viva, and receive coaching and feedback in their performance. There is also a 'public' trial where a willing volunteer is peer assessed using a simple grading scheme (A, B, C, and so on).
The viva is audio-taped, primarily for external examiner scrutiny but the tape also provides a useful back-up, particularly for checking borderline candidates.
Outcomes and key benefits:
- During the viva it is easy to get a feeling for whether or not the candidate understands the topic.
- Many students who do not do well in exams seem to excel at this form of assessment.
- Students tend to revise harder because they are in a one-to-one situation during the viva and do not want to embarrass themselves.
- It is easy to alter the severity of questions, in order to push candidates to see how far they can go. This obviously has benefits over paper-based examination assessments.
- The assessment is more time consuming than setting or marking an exam.
- The viva can be quite stressful for the member of staff involved, who has to be 'constantly on the ball'.
- The viva is best spread over a couple of days (~12 per day), with students examined in batches of three.
This is one of the case studies which appears in the GDN Guide "Assessment in Geography"
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Page created 2 October 1999
Database pages maintained by Phil Gravestock