The activity is designed to give students practice and formative feedback in building and delivering professional presentations. After discussing a literature paper in class, students create one slide presenting a major point or idea from the paper. Students then present their slide briefly (5 min), and the entire class critiques the slide and presentation with two guiding questions: What was done well? What could have been better?
1) Identify a major idea/point of a literature paper.
2) Construct slides with meaningful visuals/text to support an oral presentation.
3) Gain experience in employing technical and professional language while presenting.
Standard projector and screen for in-class presentations. Students will need a computer with presentation software to prepare slides.
For the initial use of this activity, have students bring a device to class to work on creating a slide there. The instructor can then circulate and provide suggestions while students work. Subsequent uses can then have students generate slides as homework, and this can be done either after discussing the literature paper to assess their comprehension, or can be used to guide the literature discussion. I typically do not have every student present each time I use this activity in class due to time constraints. I keep a record of who has presented and cycle presentations throughout the class. All students still benefit from engaging in the discussion of the pros and cons of each mini-presentation.
This activity is typically graded based on completion - did the student generate a slide and present it? A single point rubric works well to provide students written feedback for reference the next tie they present.
Learning goal 1 - did they discuss a major point/discovery, or did they present a minor piece such as background knowledge, standard experimental methods/conditions, or routine characterization data?
Learning goal 2 - was the content of the slide in alignment with the point the student presented, or did it have unnecessary/unrelated images/schemes/graphs?
Learning goal 3 - did the student employ technical language appropriate to the audience, or was their tone and delivery more casual and informal?
When used after discussing a paper, students typically do well in identifying a major point from a paper (learning goal 1). If used as the method of crafting and guiding the literature discussion, then results tend to be mixed: a significant number of students present slides over standard characterization data as their familiarity with it makes them more comfortable presenting it to the class. The content of each slide (learning goal 2) varies greatly though typically students include multiple visuals or text boxes that are unrelated to what they are presenting. When asked, students usually indicate wanting to completely fill the slide, or are unable to break larger ideas from the paper into more manageable chunks for presentation. Nearly all students avoid using technical language (learning goal 3), either due to a lack of comfort with it or due to the short nature of the presentation itself.