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Evaluating And Improving Students Technical Presentation Skills

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.245.1 - 4.245.5



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Paper Authors

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Peter W. de Graaf

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Thad Welch

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2532

Evaluating and Improving Students’ Technical Presentation Skills

Peter W. de Graaf, Cameron H. G. Wright Department of Electrical Engineering U.S. Air Force Academy, CO

Thad B. Welch Department of Electrical Engineering U.S. Naval Academy, MD


Faculty members in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy have been experimenting with methods to evaluate and improve our students’ technical presentation skills without sacrificing excessive class time or subject content. Three specific techniques and the observed results are discussed.

1 Introduction

Just as technical writing differs from other forms of writing, presenting technical subjects to an audience requires specialized skills, different from other forms of public speaking. Many engineering curricula require some sort of speech class, typically administered by the English Department, which usually doesn’t address this form of verbal communication. Therefore, this important skill for successful engineers can be lacking in many graduates.

The following sections describe three methods to improve and evaluate students’ technical presentations. Each of these methods gives the students an opportunity to formulate a technical presentation and present it to an engineering audience.

The first method requires the student to make impromptu presentations of example problems given in class. Students are divided into small groups and asked to work on a particular problem. A representative is chosen from each group to present part of the solution to the problem. This method tests the linkage between quick thinking and verbal skills.

The second method requires students to derive and present solutions to selected homework problems. This method allows the student to research a particular problem and develop an informal presentation following a logical problem-solution format. Presentations are evaluated for technical content and clarity. Fellow students provide critiques of each presentation. This method tests both technical presentation skills and the ability to logically organize complex information.

de Graaf, P. W., & Wright, C., & Welch, T. (1999, June), Evaluating And Improving Students Technical Presentation Skills Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7647

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