Postgraduate nursing students' perceptions of consensus marking with online oral vivas: A qualitative study

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Background: Authentic assessment design that fosters self-reflection and evaluation seeks to develop evaluative judgement; a capability required of registered nurses. A new method of grading, known as consensus marking, was introduced to an online oral viva that required post-graduate nursing students to evaluate and reflect on their performance and grade their level of competence in collaboration with the assessor. This study aimed to explore postgraduate nursing students' perceptions about their experience of online oral viva examination and the use of consensus marking.

Design: A qualitative study using retrospective student interviews.

Methods: A retrospective, thematic analysis of open-ended questions from students who had participated in an online viva using consensus marking that was recorded for assessment and quality improvement.

Results: Postgraduate emergency nursing students perceived that the online viva while creating some anxiety was relatable to their workplace and overall, they preferred this assessment method to others. Students perceived that consensus marking enabled self-evaluation and reflection provided an opportunity for beneficial critical reflective discussions, and facilitated a positive shift in the power dynamics between the student and assessor.

Conclusions: The online oral vivas provided an authentic assessment method that, despite causing anxiety, was preferred to written assessment. The students perceived that consensus marking provided an opportunity to reflect and engage in bidirectional feedback dialogue with the assessor in a collegial discussion. Further research is required to evaluate the use of consensus marking in other assessment designs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104881
Number of pages7
JournalNurse education today
Early online date26 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Assessment
  • Consensus marking
  • Nursing
  • Online oral viva
  • Self-evaluation


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