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School of Environment, Education and Development

BSc Geography and Geology with a year abroad / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Presenting Contemporary Geoscience

Unit code EART30030
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

The student will be taught methods and best practice in scientific (and technical) communication, including individual and group presentation styles to various audiences, succinct written reporting, and poster presentation. The written report and presentation will focus on a modern topic of special interest chosen by the student, either from a recommended list or from a student-led idea in negotiation with a project supervisor. The project supervisor will develop research methods and approaches to learning and information handling with the student.. The emphasis in this unit is on independent learning and research with minimal guidance on content but maximal guidance on research methods, critical synthesis and reflection, and narrative creation.

The teaching of the course will be divided into two parts:

1/ Taught lectures on course outline, effective communication (written and spoken), style, methods and how to engage and tailor to various audiences.

2/ Formative feedback with topic supervisors (through face-to-face one-on-one meetings) with guidance on independent research methods and narrative creation.

The assessment of the course will take place during a conference style poster and oral presentation session (see assessment below).

 

 

Pre/co-requisites

NONE

Aims

This course is designed to teach and coach the student in the art of effective professional and technical communication through learning, reflecting, and presenting chosen topics of scientific interest across a range of formats (oral, poster and written). This is an important and requisite skill in all walks of modern professional life, where conferences, meetings and workshops are ubiquitous ways of networking across and within a wide range of organisations. The student may be surprised at how often they will need to present their work to peers and lay audiences in most professional careers and this course will give useful practice in this important skill demanded by employers. This is designed to hone the skills and experience gained previously in Earth Science course units (through tutorials, field exercises and other course unit project presentations and essays).

Specific summary aims are:

1/ To develop skill in distilling a critical understanding of technical and research topics in relevant communicative formats.

2/ To develop effective communication of a chosen scientific topic of interest and learn and plan reflectively from attendance at School research seminars.

The overall aim is to prepare a conference-style abstract, a research poster and a seminar presentation (12 minutes) to give to staff and peers on a topic in Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences.

 

Learning outcomes

On completing the course students:

• will have learned how to research a cutting edge topic from primary (and other) literature sources

• will be able to form a critical opinion of current research in any area of Earth, Atmospheric or Environmental Sciences

• will be able to present a concise overview of a complex topic as a written ’abstract’ suitable for a scientific conference

• will write a short abstract suitable for publication

• will understand what factors contribute to an effective oral presentation and how to engage with an audience

• will be able to prepare a research poster and understand good practice in its presentation and how it is absorbed by readers and conference delegates.

• will be able to communicate their scientific opinion at an appropriate level clearly and critically in a short oral presentation with appropriate visual aids clearly and simply

• will be encouraged to "think outside the box" with respect to applying their taught skills to other disciplines, not just their particular core subjects

• will be able to communicate effectively in oral presentation with visual aids

• will be able to produce and present a poster

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will consist of 3 taught lectures on the subject of written and oral presentation skills with visual aids, including examples of best practise. Learning will consist of compulsory attendance at a SEAES research seminar (or equivalent of interest in another School/environment) and an assessed summary of the positives and negatives of the presenter’s style and format. Communication outside of lectures will be via Blackboard (as primary) and the 3 yr notice board (as backup/for signup etc)

The assessment of the course will consist of 3 pieces of assessed work (below) with guidance in timetabled lectures. For the core work, a research topic will be chosen from a list provided by members of staff (the topic advisors see below). Students will be free to choose (on a first-come-first-served basis) from a list of topics provided; or provide their own idea.

2/ Individual presentation (seminar): A 12-minute solo oral presentation (with 3 mins for questions) by PowerPoint or similar to students and staff summarising the topic discussed in the extended abstract. These will be scheduled early in the Summer Term in Semester 2.

3/ A1 poster: A poster presenting the topic discussed in the extended abstract. This will be presented during a dedicated poster session where students and staff will ask questions, thus mimicking a poster session at an academic or business conference. This will be scheduled early during the Summer Term in Semester 2.

4/ A 2-page abstract on the chosen research topic. This will be intended to be a conference style abstract rather than an essay, highlighting the content that will be presented in the oral and poster sessions. This will also include an additional 1-page written report: on a seminar or formal scientific presentation attended by the student where the student will act as rapporteur, summarising the key aspects of the talk and critically assessing presentation delivery. For example, this could be one of the advertised SEAES seminars or a North West RMetSoc or RGeolSoc talk. A list of potential talks will be advertised in lectures but the student is free to choose anything of interest to them (which may include external public lectures for example).

Staffing

6 topic advisors (5 in addition to the course leader) will be selected by the HoS/Director of learning in consultation with the programme directors. The advisors will join the course as recognised course instructors as part of a defined teaching load. Each topic supervisor will provide ~5 research topics in their area which students will then sign up to (up to 2 students per topic). Therefore, each topic advisor will supervise 10 students. The burden of this will be to meet with each student for one hour (10 hrs total, 1 hr per student) in Semester 1 to discuss progress and guide research into the chosen topic. The topic advisors will then be expected to join and assess during one poster session (2 hrs) and one oral marking session (3 hrs) in semester 2. At least 2 academic staff (one of which will be the course leader) will be present to mark at each session. All marking will be done in these sessions. The course leader will mark all abstracts and reflective summaries (with second marking by the course partner).

The oral seminars will run for 3 full days in S2, with 2 sessions per day. The session lists will be posted to Blackboard in Semester 2 and in lectures. The poster sessions will take place (typically 3 pm - 5 pm) in S2, usually the week before or after the oral seminar sessions.

 

Knowledge and understanding

• will have learned how to research a cutting edge topic from primary (and other) literature sources

• will be able to form a critical opinion of current research in any area of Earth, Atmospheric or Environmental Sciences

• will be able to present a concise overview of a complex topic as a written ’abstract’ suitable for a scientific conference

• will write a short abstract suitable for publication

Intellectual skills

• will understand what factors contribute to an effective oral presentation and how to engage with an audience

Practical skills

• will be able to prepare a research poster and understand good practice in its presentation and how it is absorbed by readers and conference delegates.

• will be able to communicate their scientific opinion at an appropriate level clearly and critically in a short oral presentation with appropriate visual aids clearly and simply

Transferable skills and personal qualities

• will be encouraged to "think outside the box" with respect to applying their taught skills to other disciplines, not just their particular core subjects

• will be able to communicate effectively in oral presentation with visual aids

• will be able to produce and present a poster

Assessment methods

Abstract (word processed) + Summary of an attended research seminar (via Turnitin) (2 pages in length) (worth 40%)Oral Presentation (Powerpoint or equivalent) (duration of 15 mins) (worth 30%)Poster presentation (with questions) (A1 size / duration of 1 hour) (worth 30%)

Feedback methods

Formative feedback will be given in the topic advisor face-to-face meeting (where the student will be expected to take along a draft of their abstract for discussion).

 

Students will be offered the chance to conduct one-to-one practice of their presentations with the course leader for formative informal feedback.

 

Students will be shown examples of good and bad practice in narrative development, and seminar and poster presentations through lecture material and example work (by way of “feeding forward”).

 

Students will be presented with the marking rationale for each assessed coursework component, which will also be discussed in lectures, including guidance on what make First class work in the context of the assessed deliverables in the Unit.

 

Written individual (and cohort-wide general) feedback will be given on the assessed extended abstract, which will be submitted at the start of S2.

 

Un-moderated marks for each assessed component will be provided within 2 working weeks of submission.

 

Late submission of abstract, essay or poster will incur a 10% deduction per day of that assessments final mark as per School policy on late coursework.

 

Recommended reading

Eloquent Science by David M. Schultz. Published by the American Meteorological Society

Effective Science Communication by Samuel Illingworth and Grant Allen, Published by the Institute of Physics, UK.

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 3
Practical classes & workshops 24
Tutorials 7
Independent study hours
Independent study 66

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Grant Allen Unit coordinator

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