Accuracy and authenticity of oral and written assessments in high-stakes school examinations

  • Thorburn M
  • Collins D
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In earlier papers, we considered some of the pedagogy and assessment practices enacted by physical education (PE) teachers, when attempting to translate a centrally prescribed rationale into meaningful performance-led teaching within an integrated curriculum—Higher Still Physical Education (HSPE) in Scotland. One recurring theme from the data collected was anecdotal assertions from teachers that students were disadvantaged from achieving high levels of authentic attainment by written assessment instruments. Accordingly, students completed oral assessments, which were subsequently transcribed and marked to the same criteria as their written examination answers. However, results indicated that students were not disadvantaged as claimed. On the contrary, results highlighted that to various extents weaknesses in content knowledge were partially concealed through holistic written assessment. More optimistically, findings indicated that oral interviews could provide a constructive atmosphere for ongoing assessment, as well as providing informative feedback for teachers to utilize as part of their reflections on practice. Evidence from Senior Level Physical Education (SLPE) in Australia highlights the importance of language in dialogue and discussion within integrated teaching, learning and assessment environments. Consequently, a wider review of the functions such awards might play in students’ school experiences prior to higher education appears merited.

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  • Malcolm Thorburn

  • Dave Collins

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