Speaking of oral exams, it's funny timing that Pam had her oral defense tonight. Tomorrow, I will be an examiner for HiST students who are giving their oral exams this week. All week long, I will be hearing oral presentations and questioning students on their knowledge, all in Norwegian. Yeah, I know – I don't know how I'm going to do it either. But, do it I will, and faktisk I'm quite looking forward to it.
This will be the first oral exams I've participated in. In the US, we have comprehensive written final exams. Instead of that, students here study a list of topics they may be asked to discuss. When they arrive at their scheduled time, they select an envelope containing a main theme and a minor theme. They then have 45 minutes to prepare presentations, after which they give a 20-minute and a 10-minute presentation on those topics to an instructor and an outside censor. The two examiners ask questions and have dialog with the students, and at then end the examiners discuss the student's presentation and determine a grade.
I observed several sessions today, and it is interesting how much you can tell that someone knows. It is also interesting that in a country that takes fairness so seriously, that there would be a random element in the final exams. Also interesting also is that grade inflation is hardly existent (at least based on what I've seen of this one class in this one university). In the US, many students expect to get As or Bs just for showing up, but here C really is the common grade given out. As are only given for truly exceptional performances.
So, tomorrow morning I attempt a grand feat. We'll see what happens!