Checklist and assessment resources to mitigate bias in oral exams

Submitted by: Peter Bjelskou, SDU

- ongoing

Checklist and assessment resources to mitigate bias in oral exams

A checklist ‘Oral Exam Checklist for Bias Aware Assessment – 16 check-ins’ and assessment resources designed to support teachers in the mitigation of bias during oral exams were piloted at SDU in the context of an interdisciplinary engineering course, with 65% male and 35% female students, during the autumn semester, 2019. The purpose of this pilot study is not to identify teacher bias but to evaluate the effectiveness of the checklist and assessment resources in supporting transparent, criteria-aligned, and fair oral exams and to identify what further measures could be taken. 

The checklist identifies recommended in-course, in-exam and post-exam practices and the assessment resources include an oral exam question rubric co-developed with the students. Data from observations of the oral exams, an interview with the course teacher and a student focus group were analysed, and the findings informed the second iteration of the checklist and assessment resources. 

COMPASS PERSPECTIVE – in what way(s) was the measure C O M P A S S?

C - for challenging the status quo

O - for being open and accessible to most, as this measure contains didactic and explanatory elements and is designed to be easy to use. It also involves the students in the process. 

M - for mitigating bias
P - for practice- and process-oriented
A - for being introduced during the teaching semester and thus keeping the educator accountable
S - for being sustainable:
  • easily reproducible
  • ‘easy’ to use in the context 
  • contains its own on-the-spot training 
  • uses resources in ways that do not deplete them


In 2019-2020 a course at SDU’s faculty of Engineering piloted the checklist and the additional resources. The checklist was positively reviewed and recommended to fellow teachers by the course leader and an interviewed student. The pilot study was designed and led by a team representing SDU’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, Gender Equality Team and Student Services. To date, the checklist and associated guidance on bias-aware oral exams has been disseminated via the HEI’s Centre for Teaching and Learning’s newsletter and website and published in DUT, the Danish University Pedagogy Network’s journal.


What would you do the same/differently another time?
What have you learnt? 
Do you see relevance for this in other contexts?

This needs more iterations in a prolonged pilot to determine if changes are needed.