Vivas as an assessment tool by Jenny Henry A consideration of the role of the viva voce as a sole assessment method in undergraduate legal education and its potential for the enhancement of learning and development of employability skills Student feedback on using a viva as a 100% assessment method One of the best experiences I have encountered during my university time
'Nerve-racking experience Vivas as an assessment tool Jenny Henry Why I have started using them How I use them Effectiveness as an assessment method Enhancing the student learning experience Student enhancement includes assessment Vivas as an assessment tool
Interesting as these are not the norm in legal education Background-Law Programmes at St Marys introduced in 2011 for Employment Law, Tort and EU Law Currently used for Employment Law (Level 6 100% of assessment) and Tort (Level 5 50%) My experience of this assessment method Inherited my colleague Chris Hulls Employment Law module with this 100% viva question. In other institutions, I have assessed similar modules with more
traditional coursework and exam. The first cohort (2014-15) comprised 51 (42 LLB/Business Law, 9 non-law students eg Management Studies) The next cohort (2015-16) comprised 25 students (22 LLB/Business Law, 4 non-law students). This year (2016-17) comprised 39, (38 LLB/ Business Law, 1 non-law student) Rationale for using this assessment method includes: Learning outcomes for module are predominately focused on problem solving abilities
Follow up questions can probe students understanding Encourages students to develop a deep understanding of the topic Some neurodiverse students eg with dyslexia/dyspraxia may be able to express themselves more effectively orally than in writing Rationale for using this assessment method includes: Employability skills In legal practice- ability to listen and respond
to a clients/employment judges questions is crucial Many interviews/assessment days comprise presentations where questions are asked. This could supplement the work carried out by Careers and aim to increase skills/confidence Employment Law Viva Assessment This comprises: 5 compulsory problem questions based on one overall scenario 100% of the assessment
30 minutes No notes allowed No drafts/plans looked at in advance Considerations-Teaching style In order to provide formative feedback and prepare them for the vivas most seminars were in the style of practice vivas Students peer assessed initially using a suggested checklist of the answer given by me as an aid This was followed by a whole group plenary
Considerations-Teaching style Advantages-increased student participation and active learning to which Gibbs (2010) asserts facilitates deep and independent learning This years cohort-a higher level of attendance and engagement amongst cohort Provides feedback from peers, lecturer and can flip seminar and have students take viva and ask lecturer the questions
Considerations-Marking Issues Equity of marking I used a detailed marking outline scheme to assist with reliability of marking and consistency Time needed to carry out assessment I allocated 40 minutes per student (30 mins assessment and 10 minutes to mark) For the first cohort (51) this took 6 days to assess Performance and feedback Student feedback-100% stated on module
evaluation forms that they enjoyed the module. Small minority did not like 100% assessment No student stated that they did not like the viva assessment Student performance was very good overall Questionnaire on Vivas by C Hull
24 questions, Likert scale Response rate 33% (18/54) Male 9 / Female 9 Age 11(18-21), 5(22-25), 2(26-29) Feedback: Explanation and understanding: 83% agree Appropriate time to prepare: 94% agree Had to prepare more: 39% agree, 39% disagree Deeper learning: 72% agree, 6% disagree Take in notes: 56% agree, 28% disagree
Viva over written: 61% agree, 6% disagree Viva over other oral: 39% agree, 22% disagree Learnt a transferable skill: 83% agree, 6% disagree Questionnaire by me given to 2015-16 cohort
33 questions, Likert scale Response rate 64% (16/25) Male 7, Female 9 Age 9 (18-21), 6 (22-25), 1 (45-50) Feedback: Understanding of learning outcomes being assessed 100% Questionnaire given to 2015-16 cohort
Explanation clear? 94% Sufficient time to prepare? 100% More preparation? 44% agreed,44% disagreed Deeper learning? 88% agreed (rest not sure) Take in notes? 56% agreed, 19% disagreed Viva over written? 56% agreed Viva over other oral? 38% agreed,12%
disagreed Questionnaire given to 2015-16 cohort Nervous before viva? 75% agreed Being asked qs helped me feel less nervous? 94% agreed Learnt a transferable skill? 94% (others not sure) Has this increased your confidence for similar tasks eg interview/assessment days? 81% Yes Questionnaire given to 2015-16 cohort
'It was one of the best experiences I have encountered during my university time. It made me more confident in talking about the relevant law and improved my knowledge greatly as I still remember everything I was assessed on.' 'I was extremely nervous before completing the viva voce however the module convenor helped me feel calm by asking questions as it aided me to remember some points'. Questionnaire given to 2015-16 cohort 'An interesting choice of assessment'.
'Good experience very helpful skills learned'. 'Nerve racking experience but felt relieved and happy when it was over'. 'It was different to what I am used to. I liked the different challenge and would rather prepare for vivas than write essays. ' Challenging and exciting. As long as you are well prepared it goes smoothly' Lessons from Oz? Research of pilot study in a similar use of vivas in assessing Contract Law by Butler & Wiseman,
Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology ( 1993. (1993) 4 Legal Educ Rev 331) found similar results. 100% would choose viva in other subjects 96% thought improved their understanding Vivas critical contribution is ability to probe the limits of the students understanding My reflections on vivas as assessment This was a challenging assessment which students were aware of prepared accordingly Involved most topics covered in the module
Students commented hard work but enjoyed Students were highly engaged in an active way Some students performed better than they normally seem to do with written assessments This is a useful transferable skill Does not assess students written skills but this can done via other modules Conclusion This is a viable alternative assessment which can enhance the student experience and potentially increase skills relating to employability
Students were highly engaged in an active way Important to adjust teaching style and take care with assessment design Need to make sure assessment of written skills is covered in other modules
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