Student Presentations

Student presentations as a tool for teaching and learning

Every year ORT rewards students who have produced outstanding video presentations which explain STEM topics to a non-specialist audience.  The STEM Communication Awards are prizes which motivate students to research, define and explore complex topics through an engaging presentation.

But how important are student presentations for learning and why should you think about incorporating more of them into your teaching?

Presentation skills are useful inside and outside the classroom.

Inside the classroom a presentation forms a natural part of learning. It’s a channel for students to consolidate their learning and to communicate the knowledge they’ve gained to others.

It’s also a chance for students to challenge and expand their understanding of a topic. A good presenter will examine their subject from a variety of angles to find an engaging approach. Particularly when the presentation will be followed by Q&A, the presenter is encouraged to study further in order to pre-empt questions and plan prospective answers.

Beyond the classroom, employers are calling for graduates with excellent communication skills.

Students who are given opportunities to present become better communicators. Through creating and delivering presentations, students learn how to prepare material, to take in new information, to review with a critical eye and to structure and express their ideas clearly.

“Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn’t explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan.” From Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

In addition to critical thinking and communication skills, developing skills in public speaking and collaborative work can provide invaluable experience before entering the world of work, where opportunities for training and practice in front of a sympathetic audience may be more limited.

Task-based learning skills are hard to pin down and even harder to develop

Self-motivation, resilience, leadership, responsibility, problem solving and decisiveness. Teachers can see these soft skills in certain students but developing these competencies in those who aren’t already demonstrating them can be a challenge.

Student presentations can be a useful tool to assess soft skill development. The process involves not only self-motivation but also the leadership, responsibility and problem-solving skills that go along with independent work.

It’s also an opportunity for the student to grow in resilience as they face the challenge of creative self-expression, confront challenges and develop solutions to problems along the way.

With practice and guidance, soft skills can be developed over time and the challenge of a student-led research project and presentation can be a great place to start.

The value of rewards and prizes

Recognition or a prize can provide the extra motivation needed for students to break out of traditional teaching and learning conventions and to push themselves to go further in order to learn and to do more.

Prizes such as those awarded in the STEM Communication Awards encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of their subject. Why not share the opportunity for your students to gain advanced communication skills by introducing them to the STEM Communication Awards? More details are available on our website or by emailing Sheryl Gold at Sheryl.Gold@ort.org.