Viva-Voce-My first 100 days in the academia

“Students have been doing it over and over I wish they could stop it”

Hurray! Hurray!! Hurray!!! Today which is the 9th of July 2019 marked my first 100days in the academia. In the political sense of it, political office holders would have started reeling out their achievements or the media would have started analysing what the elected officials have achieved over these days but fortunately it’s not, and why fortunate?, because we know that most of the time this “achievements” are below per with regards to their promises before the elections. Worst still, in developing countries, the resources channelled in celebrating these achievements might be more than the projects executed. But that’s not why it’s fortunate. The reason I call it fortunate is because I see it as me using the “invention” of the politician to self-reflect on my journey.

My name is Timothy Ishaku, and I am a physiotherapist by background. Recently I joined the academia and I want to share my exciting experience. There are so many areas to reflect upon but I choose to reflect on the assessment bits because I joined the academia at the dying days of the session. Looking back, I felt like if am aware of these tips during my undergraduate physiotherapy training I would have pass my Viva-Voce assessment excellently.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for higher education describes assessment as an ongoing process that appraises knowledge or abilities of an individual (QAA, 2011), with the intent of understanding and improving the student learning (Angelo, 1995, p 7 in QAA 2011). According to Atherton, assessment is an integral part of learning, including anytime students ask or answer a question (Atherton, 2013). There are two types of assessment which are formative and summative. In formative, the student receives feedback for his progress as the course is still going on while in summative, the assessment takes place at the end of the course (Atherton, 2013). Both assessments can promote learning (Atherton, 2013) but I will be talking more of the summative form of assessment as it formed significant part of what I experienced during my first 100days.

Physiotherapy training is assessed via different forms of summative assessment but viva voce is an inevitable form of assessment that you will faced for you to become a physiotherapist.  It is a means where you have to demonstrate your understanding of the course thus far via face to face discussion and demonstration of skills you have acquired to the examiner. While there are different variations, it typically follow the following steps;

During the examination day, a student will be allotted an exam cubicle with a given case study that will be use to guide the whole discussion of the exam process. The student will be allowed some time to familiarise with the case study. After that, the examiner steps into the cubicle and will guide the student towards discussing his clinical reasoning behind what he thinks about the case study and his rehabilitation plans. The next section will be where the student will demonstrate some part of what he discussed with the examiner on a model (patient). Throughout the whole process the student will asked questions at different time.

Communication is key during this viva. It is expected that students communicate effectively to both the examiner and the patient/model. A student is expected to engage the patient in a professional and relevant conversation while treating/assessing. At this stage most students tend to focus their attention to the examiner and not the model. An examiner once expressed her frustration by saying …“Students have been doing it over and over I wish they could stop it”. The examiner is there to observe and it is expected for the student to engage the patient in conversation to dowse any anxiety not only focusing their attention on the examiner.

So, key points-make sure whatever you are doing is safe, speak clearly and confidently, use professional terminologies when speaking to the examiner but use common terms when explaining to the model and do practical demonstration to model when explaining where possible. Before I conclude remember viva is based on cumulative learning experience hence, read around and attend lecturers and practical’s-Best Wishes.


Atherton, J. (2013). Learning and Teaching Home. Retrieved 14 May 2016, from The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2011): Understanding assessment: its role in safeguarding academic standards and quality in higher education