Document Type

Journal Article


A phenomenographic study of students’ experience of oral presentations in an open learning theology programme constituted three contrasting conceptions of oral presentations—as transmission of ideas; as a test of students’ understanding of what they were studying; and as a position to be argued. Each of these conceptions represented a combination of related aspects of students’ experience, namely, their awareness of the audience and their interaction with that audience, how they perceived the nature of theology, affective factors, and how they compared the oral presentation format with that of written assignments. The conception of the presentation as a position to be argued was associated with a particularly powerful student learning experience, with students describing the oral presentation as being more demanding than the written assignments, more personal, requiring deeper understanding, and leading to better learning. The study draws our attention to the various ways in which students may perceive a single form of academic task and their need to develop their understanding of assessment formats.