Task-based interviews involve students explaining task solutions. They differ from other presentations of student explanations — such as written work samples or reporting to the class — because of the active role played by the teacher. The diagnostic power comes from the opportunity the teacher has to question and probe student thinking.
The teacher can:
- identify errors or misunderstandings
- identify strategies and reasoning
- detect misconceptions
- probe the depth of understanding of procedures
- observe the use of representations or materials
- identify strengths or the need for additional challenge
- provide immediate, constructive and instructive feedback to the student.
Task-based explanations can take several forms, such as:
- one-to-one interviews separate from classroom activity
- individual chats during normal classroom activity
- group discussions about a collaborative task.
The focus of the interview might be a collection of short tasks or a problem-solving task. They may be completed in the presence of the teacher, or be based on reflections on a previously completed task.
Ideally, interviews are videoed or at least audio recorded so they can be played back. Otherwise, running records should be jotted down immediately.
Task-based interview example
In this example of a task-based interview schedule, the teacher explores a student's understanding of thirds.