10

Here is a small list of alternatives to an exam. Lets assume you are not constrainted by your university to some specific kind of progress. First lets collect some criteria we want: Everyone understood the topic should pass the course. Good motivated should should pass with a good grade. Students who, e.g., only learned some definition by heart, should fail....


9

The problem with oral exams is that they (almost surely) cannot be given simultaneously to a large group (unlike written exams). If the questions are the same and are not known in advance, then those taking the exams earlier are at a disadvantage, because those taking them later might get additional information about the questions from those who took it ...


9

What would your purpose be for doing oral exams? My purpose is to allow students to explain something they bombed on a test. I allow students to retake tests in Caclulus I. On the first test, I ask them to explain the definition of the derivative, comparing it to slope. On the retake, I ask the question a different way. I can't ask that question any more ...


7

In teacher education I had some positive experiences with term papers. Students had to write 10-20 pages where they discussed a topic related to the course and their future teaching. Topics were like "Is there a usefull value that could be given to $0^0$?" and "On the different use and notation of sequences at school and university". I think this works only,...


6

For each homework, a small sample of answers is selected "at random," and the students are required to explain what they handed in. The oral exam grade is then the grade for the homework. The rationale is that it is impossible to give oral exams to a group of 60 students in a reasonable timescale, and doing it in a fair way. And for homework I'm not ...


6

Usually, the course material is more than you could talk about in 20 - 30 minutes. This means that you have a large array of questions at hand, and you usually won't be able to ask every student the same set of questions. One of the oral exams I took (iirc, it was linear algebra) had an interesting mechanism which removed some initial-quesion bias: Before ...


6

Cook up say 40 approximately equally hard problems covering the subject area, and have the students pick say 3 at random, could even go for without replacement (but that requires more problems). Might also go for say 15 problems in each area, and have them pick one of each. Or have a shading of problem complexities (2 easy ones, 1 medium hard). Make your ...


5

I worked with elementary school and preferred oral assessment with the following types of questions. Students had to explain their thinking. Very often students had an easier time explaining what they thought when they could say it, then when they had to write it. Doing mental math - It doesn't make sense to give them a pencil and paper and tell them to do ...


5

British universities have complex systems of teaching quality assurance, mandated by the QAA (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en). Exams are typically set by a lecturer, checked by a colleague in the same department, and then sent for at least brief review by an External Examiner who is a senior academic at another University. There are also policies about marking ...


4

(Migrating my comments since they appear to serve as an answer.) Why are the "students coming at last" in an advantageous position? Can they hear all the questions being asked of the students before them? If so: Does it suffice to administer half the examination student by student, and then administer the latter half in the reverse order? (E.g., if your ...


4

I teach calculus at a community college. I've decided to give my students at least two chances on each test. It's hard to make up multiple ways of asking them to explain the definition of the derivative. Because I think that's a vital thing for them to truly understand, I allow them to do an oral exam if they haven't quite gotten that on the two written test ...


3

I like to structure all exams with two equally-weighted components: a traditional in-class portion and a take-home portion. The in-class portion generally consists of routine exercises, not too many, and are meant to demonstrate basic proficiency; the take-home portion will typically have five or six multi-part, more challenging questions, from which ...


3

There are two types of oral exams I'm aware of: A Q&A-style, where the student is supposed to show knowledge and learned concepts by giving definitions or answering short questions. A talk-style, where the professor discusses a problem with the student and the student is supposed to show that he understands the concepts taught and can apply them to the ...


1

In some circumstances, oral exams have the advantage that you can adjust the later questions on the basis of the answers to earlier ones. If a student has trouble with a question, you can follow up with questions that either serve as hints for the student or enable you to isolate what exactly is causing the trouble. On the other hand, if the answers to the ...


1

Random list of ideas: board races - this is not great for grades but is a good evaluation of where the students stand against each other to monitor progress on the topics in class worksheets...worth more than a homework but less than a test or quiz making study guides - have students create their own study guides in class with example problems that they ...


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