Further oral activity
For Parts 1 and 2 students will be asked to conduct several further oral activities (FOA). These activities can be based on different types of situations that use spoken language, ranging from presentations to interviews, or from debates to speeches. In the FOA students must demonstrate their understanding of course work, focus on the relevant topic and an achievement of one or more learning outcomes. In the classroom preparation that leads up to FOAs, teachers should guide students towards successful ideas and speaking formats, without prescribing one method or approach.
Further oral activities are a form of internal assessment. The assessment criteria for Higher and Standard Level are the same. Marks for the FOA are added together with the marks for the individual oral commentary and divided by two. At the end of each exam session, a subject committee decides upon grade boundaries for Higher Level and Standard Level students. Higher Level grade boundaries are slightly stricter than Standard Level grade boundaries.
Remember: The IB moderators who listen to the sample recordings of the individual oral commentaries (IOC) do not only moderate the marks from the IOC. They moderate the entire internal assessment grade. This means that the marks for the further oral activity are also affected.
The following bullet-points apply to both Higher and Standard Level students
- Further oral activities are based on texts and topics from Parts 1 and 2 of the syllabus. The activity should be rooted in a primary source.
- Students must conduct at least two FOAs; one on Part 1 and one on Part 2. Teachers may provide more opportunities to do an FOA than these two.
- Students may work alone or in groups.
- Students decide on an activity in consultation with their teacher.
- Although there is no official time limit, there must be enough material to assess. On this matter the IB Teacher Support Material states: "The length of the individual oral commentary may be used as a rough guide for the amount of time an individual student should spend speaking during the further oral activity: 15 minutes."
- The oral activities do not need to be recorded. However, recording good samples is useful for future students.
- Following each FOA, students have to write a reflective statement, which is kept on record within the school. The reflective statement explains how the student met one or more of the learning outcomes for Parts 1 or for Part 2.
- The marks from the best FOA performance count for 15% of the final grade.
After reading the Language A: Language and Literature guide, you may still have many unanswered questions about the further oral activity. In fact, this form of assessment requires some professional judgment and an understanding of formative assessment. More on these topics below.
Professional judgment and formative assessment
The further oral activity requires a great deal of professional judgment on the part of the teacher, since the Language A: Language and Literature guide does not offer much guidance. In the guide, we read about the various activities that students may choose for the FOA. You can find the criteria and a brief description of the reflective statement. That’s it. Many questions go unanswered, such as ‘How long must the FOA be?’, ‘What material must students discuss?’ or ‘How do the reflective statements play a role in the assessment process?’ In brief, teachers are left to discover their own answers.
What’s more, the IB seems to place a great deal of trust in the teacher’s hands. No recordings are required. The record sheet of reflective statements is not sent to the IB (though it may be requested). And it is internally assessed, meaning that many marks may never be moderated. Surely schools will take a range of approaches. For example some teachers may assign all of their students to write speeches. Even though this goes against the spirit of the further oral activity, there is no system in place to prevent this from happening. Chances are high that this will happen somewhere at some school.
While this lack of guidelines may leave one feeling insecure, it can also be seen as a great opportunity. Rather than worrying about what is fair practice across all IB schools, it is recommended that teachers focus on their own school, their own students and the interests of their students. Every teaching context is different, and most likely these are differences that the IB would like to accommodate. So too should we. The FOA is the perfect chance for teachers to experiment, learn from mistakes and apply professional judgment.
Generally speaking, the various forms of IB DP assessment are summative in nature, meaning that they are a test of learning. The further oral activity, however, could be regarded as one of those few forms of formative assessment in this DP course, meaning that it can be used as a tool for learning. After all, the best one counts, meaning there is room for trial and error. Because the guidelines are so vague, teachers have the freedom to run several FOAs under a range of conditions (see tips page).For example, students and teachers often ask, ‘Should FOAs be based on texts that were studied in class? Or should they be based on texts that students find outside of class?’ You have to walk before you can run. Applying in-class concepts to out-of-class texts requires more critical thinking that the application of in-class concepts to in-class texts. This is an argument for doing one round of FOAs one way and another round of FOAs another way, using this form assessment as a tool to develop skills in a formative way. Use the freedoms of the guide to your advantage, turning the FOA into a learning tool rather than an end-station test.