Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:53 PM

Restructuring Student Presentations for the Science Classroom

In the past I was resistant to oral student presentations in the science classroom for the following reasons:

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  • The presentations take too long pressuring me to use group presentations to reduce the number.


  • Student presentations vary in quality and every poor presentation results in gaps in the learning for the class.


  • If the presentations were done in groups there is invariably an added concern with the equity with which the work was done.


  • If the presentations are done as a group, it is difficult to protect the marks of the diligent working kids while maintaining an incentive for more diligent working kids to support their lower achieving peers.


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    However, I saw an opportunity to use student presentations in my biology course by designing them so that they are individual but range between 2 to 5 mins only.  In addition to prevent the problem with gaps being created by poor presentations, I allow the presentations topics to overlap with respect to learning goal for each one.

    Finally, to encourage higher-order thinking instead of allowing the presentations to focus on just regurgitation of the students reading/research, each student has to face a series of higher-order-thinking questions based on their presentations.  The questioning can take between 2 to 5 mins (so the max time of presentations are 10 min each).

    I would like to see this model extended to other science courses in my dept. but in order for it to work there needs to be a concept that can be easily fragmented into 15 short presentations that overlap in some manner.

    Currently I am using this technique with:
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  • grade12 university biology to cover concepts the parts of the cell.  Every student has 1 organelle or cellular structure to cover the structure, function and evolution of.  Each organelle/cellular structure is presented by two different students so if one does a poor job I have another student to readdress the issue.


  • Grade 11 university biology to cover applications and implications of Evolutionary Theory.  Each student is given an article from Berkeley’s Evolution in the news to read and summarise to the class.


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    Can you suggest topics or segments for any other science courses where this can be used?

    Usha KelleyMaharaj
    Usha KelleyMaharaj
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