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Planning Student Presentations

Laura Goering,(2003) Carleton College "Planning Student Presentations", Teaching Tips, Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, Carleton College.

Over the years I have discovered two major problems with student oral presentations:

  • students seriously underestimate the amount of preparation it takes to give a good presentation
  • the students in the audience are not sufficiently engaged to learn from their peers.

To address the first problem, I first ask the students to brainstorm about the worst presentation they have ever been forced to sit through and we write a list of no-no's on the board. The list is usually quite long, ranging from lack of substance or poor organization to speaking in a monotone or using verbal fillers like "um" and "you know." We then, of course, discuss what makes a good presentation, and I hand out the peer evaluation form we will be using, which seems to summarize what they have just come up with. (see below) I also remind them to think about the very last thing they plan to say, as I have found that even good speakers don't always give enough thought to how they plan to end the presentation.

During the presentations themselves, students rate their peers using the evaluation form and I give them 5 minutes at the end to write their comments. I require them to write their names on the forms, but I tally the numbers and type up a summary of the comments for the speaker along with my own evaluation. In a large class it would be easier just to use anonymous forms.

In addition to filling out the evaluation forms for each speaker, I require that each student in the audience come up with at least one thoughtful question or comment. In a small class you can make time for everyone's question; in a larger class I ask for volunteers and then call on students who might tend to tune out.

Student Presentation Peer Evaluation Form (Microsoft Word 26kB Jul14 05)