Assessing presentation skills
Many of the courses in higher education focus on the development of competencies, such as written and oral communication, leadership, and teamwork (Kerby & Romine, 2010). However, the practical logistics of assessing students on these competencies can sometimes be inhibitive. For example, first year science students in IT Tallaght were required to make a presentation as part of their assessment. However, with over 80 students, even limiting the presentations to five minutes each, this one assessment takes an excessive amount of class time. The time involved can be reduced by making it a group presentation, however group work presents its own challenges in terms of assessing individual student contribution and effort (Perdigones, García, Valiño, & Raposo, 2009). Two different technologies were utilised to address these challenges; screen casting and google docs.
Students were required to construct a poster, using powerpoint templates provided, and record a short video presentation of their poster using ScreenR™ a web based screencasting application. As the presentations were recorded the students reported much less anxiety with regards to this presentation method, as the presentations were not “live” in front of all of their classmates. Consequently students could concentrate solely on the content of the presentation. This gave the students the opportunity to perfect the presentation allowing a higher quality “product” to be created. Once the presentations were created, students were required to post their screencast, along with their powerpoint, on the discussion forums on moodle and required to make comments on three other presentations from the class. The lecturer was then able grade the assignment and provide feedback through the discussion forums. Furthermore it is worth noting three further benefits of using this type of technology in assessments:
a) ScreenR.com hosts the final product therefore removing the need for a lecturer to have large amount of computer storage space. The final product is available through a weblink generated by screenr which a student can then submit as their assignment through Moodle.
b) ScreenR only allows a student to create a screencast with maximum of 5 minute in duration. Therefore, knowing in advance the exact length of each of the student presentations, enable more precise control with respect to time-keeping when/if these screencasts where shown in the class.
c) At the end of the assignment the lecturer has a selection of material created by the students that can be used as teaching resources for future classes
This is a prime example of logistical challenges associated with an assignment with solid pedagogical grounding (social constructivism) that can be facilitated by incorporating technology. The technique above facilitates presentation type assignments (individual or groups). However the challenge of assessing an individual’s contribution to a group project still exists.