11 December 2017

Student group presentations: how it went

It was clear beforehand some groups were more collaborative than others. After some of my lectures, one of the groups would stay behind in the lecture room to talk through their stuff. I was sure they'd nail it! But there were groups too of which members contacted me to say they struggled to get the group together. That's not such a good sign.

The day before the presentations one student asked me if their group could be moved as they had a doctor's appointment at the same time their presentation was scheduled. But it is a group activity! I asked if that was OK with the entire group. The answer only came 5PM. Oh dear. They wanted to be on a 9AM!

The next day the group  who wanted to present at 9AM was nowhere to be seen when we gathered in the lecture room. So all stayed as scheduled! It does make sense keeping things in chronological order.

Then it started! I had roped my increasingly ubiquitous sidekick Lynda in for support. Student presentations should be marked by more than one member of staff. She was rather sniffly but she was there! And we had our PhD student Ed. And Jaco sat in on one presentation.

The first group set the standard. They sorted the Oceanic Anoxic Events. They focussed on only one, which kept the entire day within the past 100 million years. The next group was the one I was worried about. One person had mailed they were ill, one seemed to be having that doctor's appointment, one had intended to drive them there but decided against, one didn't show up without explanation. Oh dear! The ones that were left weren't all equally prepared. When they knew they were two presenters short I volunteered to step in. I could do the bit of the person with the doctor's appointment, but the bit by the ill person was very biological and I couldn't do that. At least it's not required for the exam!

The discussions after the presentations were lively. Great! That's important. Possibly the most important bit. And all of it was recorded, so the students can revise with all the information provided. I hope it works!

Then we had the third group. They provided one explanation for the glaciation of Antarctica. They were quite smooth! They ventured into the alternative explanation a bit, but funnily enough, the next day the other group did the same thing in the other direction.

By a bit after one all groups were done. Good! I don't think many would have been fine with three more sessions like that. And it left me with going back to the office and trying to collate all feedback forms and notes and whatnot.

The next day didn't start so well; another message of illness. But this time it was Lynda! She was already in a bad state the day before. It had got worse! I sent an email to the people who had indicated they were willing to attend one or more sessions to remind them; they were needed now! But the first session I was on my own.

The second and third session I did have a sidekick. The second session, as well, was about as good as I could have hoped for! Great! And then it was over.

I think it worked. The students have access to the powerpoint files and to the recordings. And they could ask whatever they wanted during the discussions. I think it has worked! We'll see in the exam; I hope they do the questions pertaining to this part of the module well! And the others too, of course. We will see!

It took me a while to collate everything to grades and comments. Next week I will check with Jaco, Lynda and Ed if they agree with what I made of it. I expect so. It was past 8PM when I got home that night. And then I was tired! But satisfied.

File:Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica by NASA.jpg
Antarctica. Pic by NASA

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