Posters as student engagement approach in first year science

Gorman, Adrienne, Grenon, Muriel, Brown, James, Dodson, Helen and Flaus, Andrew (2011) Posters as student engagement approach in first year science. [Conference Proceedings]


Active student engagement in teaching and learning activities is widely linked with higher levels of motivation and improvements in academic performance. We have observed a decline in traditional lecture attendance and attainment in first year Biotechnology classes over recent years. To address this, we introduced a series of regular poster presentations. Our first year Introduction to Biotechnology module has a principal learning goal of inspiring students by connecting textbook scientific knowledge with real-world applications. We divided teaching into six-session topic blocks consisting of traditional lectures taught mainly by young researchers. At the conclusion of each block, the class of 25 students (in groups of 3-4) was assigned to research and produce a poster on a specified example or application of the topic. Presentations were designed to replicate a mini-conference style, using standard presentation pinboards with refreshments supplied. An A1 template was provided in the style of research posters, but allowing students to attach their own A4 printed sheets as content. During the poster session, student groups stood with their poster to describe their work, answer questions and engage in discussion by invited members of academic staff. Their research, presentation and understanding was individually graded using a custom assessment form. Student feedback indicated they found making the posters was a positive contribution to their learning. Notably, they commented that having the related poster session immediately after a lecture series was a useful way to reinforce taught material. They felt they had learned important relevant skills, such as how to use online journals and databases, and valuable communication skills. The academics who participated agreed it was an enjoyable and positive experience, and appeared to have strongly stimulated student interest. We conclude that poster presentations provide positive benefits for student learning, broaden opportunities to gain relevant skills, and improve overall engagement.

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NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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