Evaluating Presentations With a Little Help From My (Citable) Friends …




Individual and group presentations provide great opportunity for students to share what they have learned with peers and an efficient and feasible way of marking for instructors.

That being said, how do you grade them?

I, and I’m pretty sure you too, have experienced the full range of presentations from the stunningly excellent to the staggeringly confusing, from the inspirational to the sleep-inducing. The challenge is describing these qualities so they can be identified and assessed.

One option would be to create my own rubric based on these experiences.

The easier option is to use or adapt existing materials from others I respect.

The first source I turn to is the well-respected Association of American Colleges & Universities’ VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) assessment initiative, which has created 16 rubrics including one for oral communication.

They define oral communication as “a prepared, purposeful presentation designed to increase knowledge, to foster understanding, or to promote change in the listeners’ attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors” and assess it according to five criteria: organization, language, delivery, supporting material and central message. The rubric describes requirements for each criterion across 4 levels. For example, Capstone (4) level delivery requires that presenters’ “Delivery techniques (posture, gesture, eye contact, and vocal expressiveness) make the presentation compelling, and speaker appears polished and confident.”

The second resource I consider is the more detailed (15 criteria across 3 categories) rubric of the American Evaluation Association’s Potent Presentation Initiative (p2i). Their website has every resource I ever wished to send to students (and perhaps others) about what “good” presentation or posters look like. They have posted rubrics, guidelines, templates and resources for regular slides presentations, ignite presentations (20 slides x 15 seconds = 5 minutes of auto-advancing slides), posters and handouts.

In addition I could ask a colleague or see what other courses in the program are using.

presentation outline

One of the best parts of adapting rubrics is the opportunity to decide which pieces I find most important for my course (e.g., organization), ones that are relevant if revised to be more specific (e.g., supporting material) and ones that are not (e.g., mastery – speaking without reading from notes). I also can decide which resources I recommend (e.g., p2i slide design guidelines), which I comment on (e.g., I suggest noting times if you use the p2i rundown template) and which I just mention (e.g., p2i presentation preparation checklist).

When uncertain I can always ask for a second opinion from a colleague, request a consultation, or trial it before posting the criteria.

Happy assessing!

Picture courtesy of Sean MacEntee and carries a Creative Commons Attribution license.

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