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Academic Presentation Skills and Tools

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Active learning

Active Learning

Developed in the 60s, Edgar Dale developed a theory of how much people remember based on how they encounter information. The further you progress down the cone, the greater the learning and the more information is likely to be retained. It also suggests that when choosing an instructional method it is important to remember that involving students in the process strengthens knowledge retention.  PASSIVE LEARNING vs ACTIVE LEARNING

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Can be beautifully summed up by the Chinese philosopher Confucius: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Presentations or lectures are difficult to keep the audience or students completely engaged.  Remember the adult attention span is only 10-15 min. long.  Therefore, as a speaker, you’ll want to utilize a number of techniques to keep your audience with you.

The following suggestions should not be considered a checklist, nor are you expected to utilize every technique.  Think of them as tools for your presentation toolbox.   This isn’t an exhaustive list, but class size can often determine what can be done as far as active learning activities.  This is why you often hear faculty defending small class size, you can do more active learning more easily with smaller groups.

Try using:

  • Stories, analogies and metaphors: they help personalize the information and make what you are saying relateable
  • Design your lecture in 10-15 min blocks.
  • Use your students' questions: repeating the question validates the question, highlights and reinforces participation, creates a positive classroom, and ensures that everyone can hear
  • Humour, when appropriate: Humour is a tricky one as it hinges on so many elements: culture, generational reference points, shared experiences and understanding
  • Make the lecture outline visible: helps reinforce what is important and focuses students' listening
  • Repeat the question: validates the question, highlights and reinforces participation, creates a positive classroom, and ensures that everyone can hear
  • Questions: when asking open ended questions, be sure to give enough time for people to collect their thoughts and respond.  Silence is uncomfortable and if that goes on too long (longer than 10 sec) try seeding the response
  • Give me 5:  is where you tell the students you want 5 good responses to list things off. “That’s a good start, give me another”
  • Think pair share: pose a question for the students to reflect upon, students are paired into groups, and share their thoughts with each other or the groups can share their discussion with the class
  • Debate: set ground rules and expectations
  • Socratic seminar: formal discussion, based on a text, in which the leader asks open-ended questions. Within the context of the discussion, students listen closely to the comments of others, thinking critically for themselves, and articulate their own thoughts and their responses to the thoughts of others.
  • Guided analysis: reviewing passages of text or painting or whatever and then model how you analyize that document and then give students 5-10 min to analyze their own
  • Case study: present a case or scenario, teams of students break into group and work through the case
  • Role play: set ground rules and expectations