Evaluating competency development using interactive oral assessments

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Charles Sturt University Engineering students complete four one-year, full-time, paid work placements during their 5.5 years of combined Bachelor of Technology/Master of Engineering studies. During their first and third work placements, students also complete four subjects, in which they are required to compile a professional portfolio claiming and demonstrating their skill development in a number of competency elements.
Given the 2020–2021 pandemic and lockdowns, many institutions strived to implement assessment approaches that suited their immediate needs in conducting fair and integral online assessments. In the meantime, Interactive Oral Assessments (IOAs) have been gaining popularity due to the benefits they offer. An IOA is an authentic, scalable, interactive and time-effective method of assessing students’ achievements of the learning outcomes. This paper discusses the use of an IOA in the Professional Portfolio – Advanced subject in 2021 and presents and evaluates the outcomes of a successful implementation.
This mixed-method study elaborates the experience of the authors in implementing an IOA in the mentioned subject and offers a reflection on the success of the IOA approach to assessing particular aspects of knowledge and experience acquisition. The arguments are supported by self-observation, comparison of the current and previous subject offerings, as well as the results of the end-of-semester subject experience survey (SES).
The results/observation confirmed that adoption of the IOA allowed for an authentic, unscripted conversation between each student and the assessor, shaped by a unique scenario (e.g., engineering skill development, similar to the EA CPEng application process). Implementation of the IOA also resulted in a higher level of student engagement with the content and learning material, as well as better achievement of the outcomes. There were also greater effectiveness and efficiency for the assessors in the marking process, as well as enhanced levels of academic integrity. Finally, students were expected to achieve enhanced employability skills and a sense of connection to their future careers/professions.
From an assessor’s point of view, using an IOA and stepping away from the barriers of traditional assessments, provided greater assurance of the students’ quality of learning. Moreover, students’ achievements were demonstrated through both 21st-century and higher-order thinking skills, in line with the institution’s aspirational graduate learning attributes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of AAEE 2021 Conference
Place of PublicationPerth, Western Australia
PublisherEngineers Australia
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 05 Dec 2021
EventResearch in Engineering Education Symposium and Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference 2021 - Ezone University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 05 Dec 202108 Dec 2021
https://rees-aaee21.org/ (Conference website)


ConferenceResearch in Engineering Education Symposium and Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleEngineering education research capability development
OtherThe Research in Engineering Education Network is an international community of scholars interested in conducting high quality work in, and advancing the field of, engineering education research. The Symposium (REES) is an international conference held every two years by the Research in Engineering Education Network.

REES is widely recognised as the top engineering education research conference globally.
The Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) is an important and constant contributor to the advancement of engineering education aligned bodies and societies, providing platforms for collaboration, increasing the visibility of scholarly activities and the ongoing professional development. Its Annual Conference brings together engineering academics, tutors, students, industry and education specialists to share practice and research in engineering education.
REES AAEE 2021 is the first joint REES AAEE Conference. It will be the 32nd Annual AAEE Conference, and the second AAEE Conference in Western Australia.
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