Assessment of digitally recorded audio presentations
An Open University (OU) undergraduate course in religious studies (A332 Why is religion controversial? ) added a requirement for a 3-minute audio recording to one of their assignments. This paper discusses how this was implemented and received, and what rubric was used to grade the presentations.
- The case study
- Assessment criteria
- Personal engagement, authenticity, and relevance
- Learning across different media
- Confidence with technology
In this module, one assignment was created with two parts: a written essay (worth 75% of the assignment’s grade) and a 3-minute audio presentation of the main points in the written essay (worth 25% of the assignment’s grade). OU provided the students with an in-house audio recording tool (ART), but they also could choose to use any other recording tool including those on their mobile phones.
The students and teachers were given this rubric to assess the quality of the audio presentations, with equal weighting given to content and presentation skills:
- Are the major points identified?
- Are details and examples presented clearly?
- Is the presentation appropriate for the audience?
- Is a clear line of argument developed?
- Are the arguments supported with well selected, appropriate examples?
- Is the presentation well organised?
- Is it clearly introduced and concluded?
- Is it well paced and timed?
- Is the information presented clearly and concisely?
- Is it presented in a lively, fluent and engaging manner?
(Sinclair, 2016, p. 166)
- Some students and teachers felt that this activity helped them forge a closer connection. At least one teacher thought they should provide their feedback comments (given along with the grade) in an audio format, too, so they can better understand what the students face.
- Some felt that learning audio recording software was an important transferable skill.
- Some thought that having the presentation be about the main points of their essay helped deepen their understanding of the topic and also helped them create a more compelling audio narrative.
- The recording was welcomed by people who do not like written assignments.
What didn’t work
- Some students and teachers felt that this activity was actually more isolating and lacking interaction.
- Others questioned whether this was a transferable skill because while talking with others about sensitive issues may be important to someone taking a religious studies course, creating podcasts may not be important. Some students said they were not interested in learning software when they signed up for the class. This mirrored a similar finding in a Communications class at OU, which added an assignment to create multimedia, in which ‘students… were reluctant to engage with creative aspects in the production of an assessed video as they did not think of themselves as “an art type” and identified more with “linear/logical ways” of thinking’ (Sinclair, 2016, p. 171).
- Some students didn’t have the public speaking skills needed to be successful in the assignment.
- The recording was not welcomed by people who, because of disability or lack of skill, do not like assessments on presentations.
What they changed in response to feedback
- They provided students with more support and information to help with their public speaking skills.
- They also included more explicit information about how this skill is important and transferable to the overall goals of the students.
- The in-house recording tool did not work well with some browsers. Help Desk personnel were brought in to troubleshoot issues and support students. More information plus practice sessions were added to the course material.
Kirkwood, A., & Price, L. (2008). Assessment and student learning: A fundamental relationship and the role of information and communication technologies. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 23, 5–16.
Kirkwood, A., & Price, L. (2013). Missing evidence of a scholarly approach to teaching and learning with technology in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 18, 327–337.