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Improving Graduate Student Oral Presentations Through Peer Review

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Case Studies and Programs to Improve Graduate Students' Skills

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Joanne Lax Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Joanne Lax is the graduate technical communications specialist in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, where she develops and runs workshops on communications topics. She graduated from Northwestern University, with a B.S. and M.S. in journalism, and from Purdue University with an M.A. in English as a Second Language.

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Audeen W. Fentiman Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Audeen Fentiman is Associate Dean of Engineering for Graduate Education and Interdisciplinary Programs and the Crowley Family Professor in Engineering Education. She holds courtesy appointments in Nuclear Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

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For several decades, peer review has been a popular instructional strategy in courses throughout the university. Employed most often for written documents, it is less commonly used for oral presentations, especially at the graduate level. Yet engineering graduate students frequently make oral presentations, whether in their research group meetings, at professional conferences, in internships, or during their job search. This paper presents an overview of the research in oral presentation peer review, focusing on its motivation and use in various engineering contexts. Because peer review depends on effective rubrics, their construction is explained and examples are provided. These rubrics can be used to provide feedback in electronic, written, or oral forms, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. The paper also discusses how instructors can offer a supportive classroom environment in which constructive criticism is given and accepted.

The authors further describe how they and others implement peer review of oral presentations in different contexts with engineering graduate students and discuss some challenges, including student reluctance and language and cultural differences. Finally, the authors present the results of end-of-the-course surveys which ask the students to evaluate the perceived usefulness of the peer review activities, both as a peer reviewer and as the recipient of peer review, and provide suggestions for improvement.

Lax, J., & Fentiman, A. W. (2016, June), Improving Graduate Student Oral Presentations Through Peer Review Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25620

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