Interviewing Students

The interview, in many ways, is the most important part of the evaluation process and can be very interesting and rewarding. The learning description is an overview of the learning, while the interview provides further details and explanation as well as more insight into the student's depth and breadth of knowledge. Direct interaction between the student and the evaluator is necessary in order to verify the learning and reach an accurate conclusion

Every student should be interviewed in real time (e.g., in person, over the phone, via Web-based software), as facial expressions, voice tonality, and/or body language all help in understanding how and what the student knows. Email may be used for preliminary communication or for follow-up to the interview, but is not appropriate for the substantive interview.

The interview is an opportunity to engage in an in-depth discussion with the student and develop a good understanding of the learning being evaluated.

Although the learning description, supporting materials and degree program plan provide a context for your professional evaluation, typically alone they do not provide sufficient information to determine the student’s college-level learning.

Interview Logistics

Once you have accepted the evaluation assignment within PLA Planner, the student will be asked to contact you using the information provided in PLA Planner. The student should contact you directly, but you may want to contact the student first.

If you do not hear from the student within 14 calendar days, please contact your center’s assessment specialist.

Once Contact Has Been Made with the Student

Set up a mutually convenient time to conduct the interview.

  • Interviews may be conducted by phone, in person, or using Web-based software (such as Sype).
  • The interview is an opportunity for you to get a deeper understanding of the student's learning. Plan to spend at least an hour speaking with the student for each topic, depending on the individual needs of each evaluation.
  • If you are doing an in-person interview, you conduct it at the college or a public environment. Do not conduct the interview at your home or the student's home.

Time expectations for the assignment are set by policy.

  • The entire process from the day you accept the assignment to when you submit your recommendation report needs to take no more than 45 calendar days.
  • You will need to accept the assignment through PLA Planner. The 45-day period begins at the point that you receive the assignment in PLA Planner, so it is important that you accept the assignment in a timely manner or contact your center’s assessment specialist as soon as possible.
  • Should you or the student encounter any delays to the process, you must contact your assessment specialist immediately.

Rejecting an Assignment is sometimes necessary.

  • If you are unable to accept an evaluation that has been assigned to you, use the "Reject Assignment" button in PLA Planner to indicate that you will not be accepting the assignment.
  • If at any point after you have accepted the assignment you decide that you cannot complete the evaluation, contact your assessment specialist immediately. You may do so through the Evaluator-COAR dialog box in PLA Planner, or by email or by phone.

Preparing for and Conducting the Interview

The college does not have pre-set questions for an evaluator to ask. You need to develop these questions from your review of the student’s submission and your understanding of the knowledge that is characteristic of the field and appropriate to college-level learning.

Developing Questions Before the Interview

When you review the learning description and supporting materials, think of questions that you want to ask the student during the interview. Appropriate questions include ones that ask the student:

  • how was the learning acquired
  • in what ways has the learning been used, including:
    • solving problems
    • developing new methods of applying the learning
    • teaching the learning to others.

Some evaluators like to provide students with questions to think about before the interview.

Developing Questions During the Interview

Often knowledge gained through experience doesn't fit pre-defined sets of questions, so in addition to the questions you prepare, you may find that you will want to use probing questions during the interview in response to something that the student has shared.

Different types of knowledge can require different strategies. You will need to determine the best methods that will reveal to you the extent and nature of the student’s college-level learning.

From the interview, you should be able to determine the depth, breadth and level of this learning and be able to place the learning within the context of ESC credit designations (e.g., liberal arts and sciences, SUNY general education requirements, introductory or advanced level) using the professional standards of your field.