4F: Oral Assessments: Building a Community of Statistical Thinkers and Speakers

With Allison Theobold (California Polytechnic University) & Paul Roback (St. Olaf College)


Oral assessments provide educators with a wealth of information about student understanding. Rather than deciphering a static written response, oral assessments allow instructors to probe student understanding, providing a more complete picture of their overall understanding. However, the potential time and energy required to incorporate oral assessments in the classroom, combined with the fear of the unknown, may cause many educators to shy away. This session will (1) break down barriers for instructors interested in incorporating oral assessments in their classrooms, and (2) help instructors design oral assessments for a specific course.

During this session, we will first share two different perspectives on designing and administering oral assessments, one as a follow-up to a homework assignment and the other as a midterm or final exam. We will then outline the components that are instrumental to creating meaningful oral assessments (e.g., design, facilitation, grading), the approach we took for each component, and recommendations we would offer.

Throughout the session participants will consider how they might apply ideas being discussed to an assessment setting from their own teaching, receiving feedback on their ideas from fellow attendees. By the end of the session, participants will (1) see that oral assessments carry many potential benefits for a reasonable level of costs, and (2) have created an outline for how they might administer an oral assessment in one of their own courses.