Reducing the Impact of Bias in Oral Assessment


  • Tommy Cedervall
  • Michael Gerlt
  • Maike Kl√∂ckner
  • Viktor Larsson
  • Jenny von Platten


Bias, Oral Assessment, Personal Construct Theory


Bias in assessment is not only unfair but can also lead to decreased motivation and sense of belonging among minority student groups, potentially upholding or even increasing inequalities. In higher education, biased grading is easier to overcome in written examinations than in oral examination as anonymity cannot be ensured in the latter. In this report, we try to understand the emergence and effect of expectancy- based bias through personal construct theory in order to find approaches to reduce the influence of bias in oral assessment. As such, we address biases existing before interaction with the student (stereotype), emerging from interaction with the student (halo bias), and how these can contribute to a biased idea of the student in the teachers mind. We finally discuss how this can cause cognitive dissonance and biased assessment when student performance is not in line with the teacher's cognitive model of the student, and propose solutions on how to deal with this to minimise bias in oral assessment.