Guidance on planning your individual and group presentation assessments.

Assessment Modes

Presentation (PRE) is a prepared oral presentation by a student before a marker/s and/or peers, where knowledge, technical content, ability to answer questions and presentational skills are assessed.

Group Presentation (GPN) is a presentation prepared and made collectively by a group.

Presentations are distinct from oral assessments (ORL), which are a test of knowledge and/or ability conducted between a marker/s and a student by means of spoken face-to-face questioning led by the marker/s in which the student has no knowledge of the questions beforehand.


Why use presentations?

Presentations have many benefits to student learning because:

  • it develops the critical thinking skills of students; this is because when preparing the presentation, students must decide what they want to say and in doing so they are selective of the materials and theories they are learning
  • they encourage higher order thinking as students select, analyse and evaluate information, with the final aim of creating an original piece of work
  • through the creative process, students become active learners and are given the opportunity to take ownership of their subject
  • the experience of presenting enhances the students’ feeling of expertise and therefore their sense of belonging to the discipline
  • they are ‘authentic’, real-world, tasks
  • if a group presentation, they require collaboration, which is an important transferable skill
  • by observing, and ideally being encouraged to provide feedback on, peers’ presentations, students will develop insights into best practice and the application of marking criteria they can feed forward to their own work, thereby developing their feedback literacy
  • learning can be further scaffolded by providing students with some prompts for self-reflection on their presentations.

Live vs pre-recorded presentations:

Whether you ask them to produce live (either in-person or online) or pre-recorded presentations, students will have to effectively communicate to an audience by creating a presentation and delivering it within a specified time limit.

Pre-recorded presentations are becoming an increasingly common recruitment tool. Consequently, both pre-recorded and in-person presentations can be considered authentic (real-world) assessment activities.

  • Live presentation pros:

    Live presentation:

    • develops experience and confidence in valuable transferrable skills
    • helps students to receive immediate feedback from audience reactions to their presentations, especially when delivered in-person, and from peer or tutor questions and comments
    • can be relatively informal and fun, especially when formative.
  • Live presentation cons:

    In live presentations:

    • students often dislike, or may be exempt from presenting in front of an audience
    • audience (tutors and students) attention may be split between paying attention to the presentation and formulating questions and/or feedback
    • the presentation can take up teaching time (although presentations could be considered peer teaching and provide stimulus for discussion of key topics).
  • Pre-recorded presentation pros:

    A pre-recorded presentation:

    • develops experience and confidence in valuable transferrable skills
    • can alleviate anxiety about public speaking (but not for all)
    • enables students to watch back and refine their presentation content and/or delivery style before submitting; insights can be fed forward to future presentations
    • enables the audience (tutors and students) to take more time to review and develop questions and/or feedback which might be shared with presenters in writing (such as via online discussions) or in a follow-on synchronous session (useful for draft presentations)
    • recordings are available to moderators and external examiners.
  • Pre-recorded presentation cons:

    Pre-recorded presentations can also:

    • reduce opportunities for interaction
    • be challenging for some students as it may take some time for students to become familiar with how to record a presentation
    • require students to have access to appropriate technology.

Things to consider 

 When preparing presentation assessments, consider asking:

  • how might you build in opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences preparing and delivering presentations?
  • how might you engage students in applying marking criteria or providing feedback to peers?
  • how might you engage students in reflection on their feedback and/or skills developed? Such ‘feed-forward’ activities might range from an assessed individual reflection to a short in-class discussion
  • how does your presentation task contribute to building student skills and confidence over the course of their studies?
  • how much scaffolding and support might your students need when preparing and delivering their presentations?

References and further reading

Find more information from:

Murillo-Zamorano, L. R., & Montanero, M. (2018) Oral presentations in higher education: a comparison of the impact of peer and teacher feedback, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43:1, 138-150.

Murphy, K. & Barry, S. (2016) Feed-forward: students gaining more from assessment via deeper engagement in video-recorded presentations, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41:2, 213-227.

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