Student Interviews as Assessment Tool

Decorative: A sign saying "Interview in Progress"


"Using Interviews to Assess and Mentor Students" (pdf) suggests "adding five-minute student interviews to your teaching tool kit" as these "provide a unique setting and opportunity for you to teach students individually."

  • "[I]nterviews enable [students] to receive immediate feedback, provide a unique setting to explain their work, and help them feel more responsible and accountable regarding the coursework."

A. Learning Experiences Interviews Support

1. Performing

  • "Brief interviews can provide students an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency ... where mastery of specific skills is an integral requirement of the course."
  • "Brief discussion regarding the student’s performance may follow, as appropriate."

2. Reporting

  • "[I]interviews can quickly identify what students have done, as well as what they know."

3. Mentoring

  • "Interviews provide an opportunity for professors to compliment, assist, correct, address problems and opportunities, and demonstrate interest."

B. Practical Suggestions

1. Interview Early 

  • "[S]chedule interviews early in the semester ...  to provide students with feedback earlier."

2. Clarify Expectations 

  • "Reduce the stress by removing ambiguity."
  • "Explain the interview’s purpose."
  • "Help students understand how to prepare for the interview and what to expect when it happens."

3. Be Flexible 

  • "[L]et students be who they are—with varied communication skills, enthusiasm, and dress."
  • "[H]el[p] them learn to communicate comfortably with experts and those they perceive as authority figures."

4. Stay on Schedule 

  • "If you need more time, don’t run over—instead schedule a second interview."
  • " Use a stopwatch or subtle timer to keep you on schedule."
  • "Leave a few minutes between interviews, so you can pace yourself and be attentive to every student."

5. Maintain Focus 

  • "Eliminate distractions. Appropriately limit pleasantries and chit chat."
  • "Maintain eye contact. Call students by name."
  • "Ask engaging questions."

6. Keep Grading Simple 

  • "[C]reat[e] self-assessment rubrics for students to complete and submit prior to their interview."
  • "Assess their performance during the interview."
  • Or, "assign one of three grades: Pass (student was on time and prepared), Marginal (student was late and/or unprepared), and Fail (student did not schedule or did not attend their scheduled interview)."

C. Other Considerations 

  • "[I]nterviews are scheduled in advance, have stated objectives, and are generally more formal [than regular office-hour meetings]."
  • "[I]mmediate face-to-face feedback [may] tak[e] less time than preparing written critiques of student work."
  • "Problems and misunderstandings can ... be identified and resolved before they become larger ... provid[ing] an increased opportunity for on-the-spot tailoring and adjustments." 
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