Group of students presenting (©Jisc and Matt Lincoln CC BY-NC-ND)
Photo ©Jisc and Matt Lincoln CC BY-NC-ND

For many years, student presentations have been a standard ingredient exploited by academics as a useful learning device. They also have the advantage of providing students with skills needed in their working lives. From an educational perspective, presentations provide an excellent conduit to reflect and synthesise: Students will need to learn, organise and really understand the material in order to present the materials to others.

The rationale for student presentations is available here:

https://learnercenteredteaching.wordpress.com/teaching-resources/rationales-for-giving-classroom-presentations/

Presentations require a student to:

  • Research a topic
  • Structure the material
  • Plan the content and delivery
  • Prepare a Powerpoint slideshow or other visual material
  • Deliver the presentation to an audience

It is important to set clear criteria upon which the student presentation is judged. Typically, this includes:

  • Coherent structure
  • Content is appropriate and pitched at the right level
  • Delivery is clear and well paced, and incudes eye contact with the audience
  • Good visuals – clear and relevant

It is also important to provide students with constructive feedback on their presentations.

Presentations can be used for summative assessment and represent a viable alternative to exams:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/education/2015/06/11/using-student-presentations-for-summative-assessment-rationales-and-good-practice/

For further information relating to presentations as assessments, evaluation criteria and rubrics, please see:

http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/assess/oralpresentations.html

Online presentations, student posters, gamification and student videos are other excellent ways to assess students, and are often done with students working in groups. The assessment criteria will be similar to those above.

These types of student collaborations offer substantive pedagogic and assignment opportunities, especially when the group activity or task is fairly complex and requires a division of labour. In addition, Collaborative Learning is starting to be increasingly employed for undergraduate education. This is because it is highly effective and provides an interactive and engaging way of learning that students really enjoy.

A related area, Team-Based Learning is also gaining credence and UK universities are increasingly embracing this method as an alternative to traditional lectures.

Pros

An excellent overview of the benefits of Student Presentations has been written by Julia Hayden Galind of the Harvard Graduate School of Education:

https://ablconnect.harvard.edu/presentations-research

Some of the main advantages include:

Cons

Presentations can make students feel nervous, and for shy students it can be extremely stressful. Some students may not wish to participate. However, concerns can be mitigated to some extent by communicating that most people will feel some anxiety about performing in front of an audience, and that the process will become easier with experience. Skills improve with practice and reflection.

In January 2017, groups of pharmacy students were given a task to create an online presentation in the form of an instructional video for patients, as part of Problem Based Learning (PBL) component of the unit ‘PA20320 Management of Respiratory disease and dermatology’. The student cohort was divided into small teams of 5 or 6 people, and the task required collaboration between the group members to create an effective video according to specific criteria.

Each student team was allocated a specific inhaler device, and given the task to produce an instructional video for that device designed at an adult patient audience. The aim of the video was to provide the target audience with a guide that included everything that the patient would need to know when provided with the new inhaler:

  • The name of the inhaler (brand and generic) and its pharmaceutical ingredients
  • What type of inhaler it is
  • What type of drug it contains
  • How the drug works and the licensed therapeutic indications
  • What benefit the patient can expect from the drug
  • How the inhaler gets drug into the lungs
  • When and how often the inhaler should be used
  • How the inhaler should be used (inhaler technique)
  • How to store the inhaler
  • How to address your target audience in the video
  • How to explain the inhaler technique to the target audience
  • How to make the information in the video ‘patient-friendly’
  • How to signpost the patients to useful sources of information
  • How to create an attractive, informative and clear instructional video

The assessment criteria was as follows:

  • Knowledge-based criteria: Marks for the quality and accuracy of information produced, patient-friendly nature of advice
  • Skills-based criteria: Marks for quality of the video, clarity of audio and visual aids etc.

There was also a peer assessment component

In order to create the video, students were provided with a simple methodology using familiar tools, as described in the following blog post:

http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/keithbrown/2017/03/22/using-powerpoint-as-a-video-editor/

The results were outstanding, and will be the subject of a showcase.

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