Oral presentations

Posted by @IwonaMaciejowska on March 9, 2014, 9:46 p.m.

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The limitations of the traditional unseen examination as an assessment method are now well appreciated. In particular such assessments often fail to validate several important learning outcomes. Oral Presentation, often supported by e.g. Power Point, Prezi, Flash, hand-outs or black/white boards can be used to assess a wider base of knowledge and skills. Skills that can readily be assessed using presentations may include the ability to search, select and critical evaluate new information, presentation (visualization) of data, oral communication and argumentation skills, and the ability to respond to questioning and draw conclusions.

Assessment criteria should be carefully selected to facilitate evaluation of the desired learning outcomes. Everything that is said or is displayed on slides and most of all the ability to answer questions and provide explanations after the presentation should be considered when assessing a student’s knowledge of a topic. If it is the presentation skills themselves that are to be assessed, it can be a good idea to set the evaluation criteria in consultation with the students. Such criteria are likely to include:

  • content and the way it is organized and presented - structure , logic , coherence , relevance to the  topic , complexity, contact with the audience;
  • manner of speaking – clarity, fluency, diction, intonation, modulation and intensity of voice, timing, correct use of language, use of vocabulary appropriate to the topic and understandable to the intended audience, etc.;
  • the use and effectiveness of visual support materials, such as slides – composition, amount of text, readability, underlining of key points , illustrations, and the presentation of data , clarity of slides, including appropriate use of colour.

When assessing presentation skills it is useful to use an assessment rubric and/ or a predetermined set of questions.  Peer assessment is quite popular in the case of oral presentations and there is little doubt that students can learn much through the process of assessing the performance of their peers.

Some examples of the use of oral presentations can be found on the following websites:


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