Say students A, S and X were presenting a speech. What marks (say, out of 20) would you give for this 2:50-4:24 minute speech?
Student A presented an oustanding speech. Student A had memorised the vast majority of the speech, and used plenty of enthusiasm, which engaged the audience. Student A clearly had presented a speech beyond his/her year level. However, Student A did say 'Um' once, and used one un-necessary pause. On top of this, Student A used some terminology (juxtaposition, foil) and vocabulary (avaricious, miser, epitome etc.) that confused the audience, but were appropriate to the task and did accentuate their mastery towards the subject. (Time: 4:10)
Student S presented a very good speech. Student S lacked expression, but still engaged the audience. Student S had memoried the majority of his/her speech. Student S, however said 'Um' three times, but did not make any pauses or statter. Student S didn't use any 'new' words or terminology, therefore not confusing the audience. The content of Student S' speech covered the required information, but their content was nothing special. (Time 3:35)
Student X presented a satisfactory speech. Student X had plenty of expression, which engaged the audience, but their speech's content was mundane and only 'just' covered the required information. Student X make a few stutters and um's, and did not speak any new vocabulary or terminology. (Time: 3:10)
So, which student would receive the higher mark?
Whenever this kind of an assignment is given, there should be a guideline given to the students, a rubric, which gives a general idea of the expectations of the students. I approach these kinds of things much the same way I look at essays and poetry writing: there is no such thing as the perfect project. In other words, I would give a high grade to both A and S because both did a great job within the limits of an exceptional presentation. Grading this kind of assignment can be objective and subjective at the same time: I think it has to be. People aren't robots—perfection is not going to be predominant in this assignment. However, the presentation was obviously the result of a great deal of work. That means more to me than anything: effort.
Student X would receive a "C" from me. His/her effort was mediocre; he worked enough to "just get by." I can never see rewarding work that is thrown together, but I feel compelled to give some credit for time invested. Some teachers might give less credit than I. Your note that the work was satisfactory makes me lean toward a "satisfactory" grade. A "C" is an average, satisfactory grade and reflects the student's effort.
Realistically, some stuttering or "ums" are normal—a few is acceptable. I think it's unfair to expect perfection in this situation.
Most teachers would have a rubric for the speeches that students have to give. That rubric would determine which of these students would get the best grade. The rubric would tell us things like whether a longer speech is better than a shorter speech. It would tell us how important it was for the student to avoid words that the audience would not know. Most importantly (in comparing A and X) for example, it would say how important the content of the speech was when compared to the delivery of the speech.
From the way you lay this out, it is clear that you think that Student A should get the best grade. I can't really say what should have been because I would want to judge for myself the amount of expression the students had or how well they engaged the audience. Not seeing it for myself, and not knowing the exact weighting of various factors on the rubric, I really can't say who should get the best grade.
For example, a rubric that values using the right vocabulary, coming in at the middle of the time range, and speaking clearly without pausing or stuttering might give S the best grade. One that was mainly focused on the academic content of the speech would favor A. It's just not possible to know for sure.
I agree with the earlier posters who say that it's important to follow whatever instructions you receive from your teacher. If the teacher is fair, the teacher will be in the best position to determine if those instructions have been followed well. Teachers usually have very specific reasons for wanting what they want, but students sometimes assume that teachers are being unfair in their grading. Being an unfair grader makes no sense from a teacher's point of view; it kills enthusiasm and creates unnecessary hassles. If you ever feel that you have been graded unfairly, I would recommend that you ask your teacher's advice about how to improve. Most teachers will be willing to bend over backwards to help students who seem genuinely interested in learning what the teacher is trying to teach. Good luck!
I have to echo the posts above and say that the scores will depend on the stated expectations for the assigned speech.
There is going to be designated number of points attached to each kind of mistake, a designated number of points assigned to time, etc.
Teachers can build subjectivity into the rubric too, though this subjective section of the score should not constitute a majority of the points. If this assignment's scoring rubric had some points delegated to subjective assessment, the first speaker would certainly get the highest mark, even if each student had paused and said "um" an equal number of times.
The problem with scenario-type questions is that it's very difficult to truly give all the information needed. You don't tell us if your last student's speech was memorized or read. You don't tell us, as pointed out by previous answers, exactly what the expectations for the speeches were. Without knowledge of the requirements established by the teacher, it is impossible to really evaluate your hypothetical presentations. The rubric's structure would determine the grades awarded.
Are you asking because you feel you were unfairly graded on a speech you gave?
As I mentioned before, I always tell my students specifically what I want in the speech. The rubric includes a time limit. If I said that speech had to be 5 minutes, I might take off a few points for the first one and the last two would get very low scores. However, if I requested 3 minutes, I would still give Student A higher grades but not 100% if the rubric mentioned audience. A speaker should know his or her audience, but I would only grade for that if I say I am going to.
Unless one of the assignment's stated requirements was not to confuse the audience with unfamiliar language, then I would give the best mark to Student A as mastery of all levels of an academic challenge are indicated. Of course, if language at a certain level of competence was required by the assignment, then that breach would weigh against Student S in a manner laid out in the rubric.
I would also stand by the use of a rubric. If vocal pauses are important to the teacher, he or she may mark off significantly for using them. Given that all teachers do not look for the same exact things, I would say that it would be really hard to denote points for any of the speeches mentioned in the question. I would, however, give student "A" an higher score than student "B."
A rubric is of course necessary for any teacher in order to mark the speeches that they make. It is excellent practice if that rubric is then shared with students so they know how they are going to be graded to encourage transparent assessment. From the scenarios given above it seems clear that Student A should receive the best mark, but it depends a lot on what the rubric says.