Microteaching/Recording of Technical Oral Presentations
Course Name: EBS289F (Special Topics in Food Engineering: Engineering Food Digestion)
Brief Description of Course: Graduate course with the following learning objectives: (i) apply quantitative approaches to characterize human digestive processes; (ii) evaluate methods used to study aspects of digestion and design experiments appropriately; (iii) critically review scientific and non-scientific literature to provide judgement on topics related to food, digestion, and health; and (iv) communicate information through concise written reviews and oral presentations.
Description of Tool/Strategy
Effective oral and written communication skills are crucial for students entering the workforce, but are infrequently covered as part of graduate curriculum. A microteaching approach was utilized in the classroom to improve graduate student presentation skills on a short literature review presentation. Microteaching is a technique that was developed for use in a traditional classroom setting to improve teacher performance. The main principles of microteaching involve preparation of a lecture, teaching to a small group of students or observers (while being recorded), observing the recording while receiving feedback from a supervisor or mentor, re-planning the lecture, re-teaching the lecture, and re-observing the lecture. One of the critical aspects of the microteaching technique is recording of the teaching session or lecture to allow for the lecturer to view their own presentation while receiving feedback from their supervisor or mentor. This technique was adapted for technical oral presentation delivery by graduate students.
Due to time limitations in the course, the “planning” stage with the student-mentor that is typically included in microteaching was not completed on an individual basis with each student. Instead, all students were provided an outline with the areas of content to be covered in the presentation. The key microteaching steps that were included in the course were: (1) initial presentation delivery (while being recorded) and evaluation, (2) mentor feedback and recording review, (3) presentation re-planning (individual), (4) presentation final delivery (while being recorded) and evaluation. This process was implemented as follows:
The instructor assigned students a literature review on an approved topic related to the course content (food digestion processes). During week 5 of the quarter, they were required to give a short (8-10 min) presentation on their literature review progress, which focused on presentation delivery. They were provided the areas of content to cover in the presentation and told that the focus would be on the presentation organization and effective delivery of content. All students were provided with a detailed rubric that was used for the presentation evaluation, focusing on nine skills: four presentation-related skills and 5 presenter-related skills (Table 1). Each skill was evaluated as: (1) needs attention, (2) low developing, (3) developing, (4) high developing, and (5) proficient. A detailed rubric was created to ensure consistency across peer and professor evaluations.
Table 1. Presentation and Presenter-Related skills assessed in presentation evaluations
|Presentation-Related Skills||Presenter-Related Skills|
|Supporting Materials||Use of Time|
During delivery of the presentation, students were recorded with a digital camera. In addition, all peers and the professor filled out the evaluation for each presentation. The peer and professor evaluations were completed anonymously.
Following the delivery of the first literature review presentation, all students were provided with their own recording to review prior to an individual meeting with their mentor (professor). In addition, all of the evaluations and comments were compiled and the professor reviewed each video to formulate a list of areas for improvement and short segments of the video that exemplified these areas. During the individual meetings, each student first gave their own opinion of their presentation (from watching their video) and then were presented with feedback, including their peer and professor evaluations. Selected video clips were reviewed together by the student and professor to determine 2-3 action items for improvement in the subsequent presentation.
The following week all students delivered the same presentations a second time, taking into account the feedback from peer and professor evaluations and from viewing their videos. The same rubrics and evaluations were completed. Following these presentations, the students were provided with their videos to review as well as the peer and professor evaluations.
Assessment and Analysis
After completion of the literature review presentations, students were given an anonymous online survey pertaining only to the microteaching module of the course. Student response towards the exercise was largely positive. 100% of students in the course found the assignment to be effective overall and agreed or strongly agreed that the peer and professor feedback was useful in improving their presentation. In addition 100% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that watching recordings of their presentations were useful and that they had identified areas of improvement for future presentations.
Some comments from student evaluations included:
“I really like the way that you collected comments from everyone first and gave feedback during individual meetings, which was specific and helpful”
“You cannot notice some problems if you do not watch your presentation recording. It is very useful to improve ourselves”
“Though it’s awkward to watch myself in video, it does help a lot to correct some of my habits”
One area for modification could be the total class time required to complete the 2 presentations and individual meetings (1.5 weeks). Some students expressed that they felt this took away too much time from the rest of the course material. In the future, this could be improved by having individual meetings outside of class time, not requiring a second presentation, or by having shorter presentations by each student.
If these techniques were to be utilized in a larger or undergraduate course, it is likely that they would be successful for improving student presentation skills. However, the timing would need to be adapted so that all students were able to present and receive meaningful feedback without taking up too much of the class time. This could be achieved by conducting presentations and evaluations during a laboratory or discussion period, or by having students give short (<5 min) presentations.
Overall, utilizing principles of microteaching (e.g. recording presentations and reviewing recordings with students) was effective in improving student presentation skills and can be utilized in a classroom setting. However, modifications may be needed to adequately adapt to time constraints of a quarter-long course, such as only completing one presentation that is recorded (instead of two), or having individual meetings outside of class time.