June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.955.1 - 13.955.15
Oral Communication Skills Workshop for Students in Engineering and Applied Science
This paper provides an overview of a two-week non-credit workshop that focuses on the skills needed for effective formal oral and poster technical presentations. It is required for all graduate students in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the National University of Singapore. Special considerations are a relatively large number of students (45-75) from diverse cultural backgrounds, many of whom do not have English as their first language. The Workshop involves a four-hour overview focusing on the organization and style components of both formal oral and poster technical presentations. Examples of both a PowerPoint® and poster presentation are given to illustrate effective communication skills. Each student gives a short presentation that is digitally recorded and critiqued by the Workshop Coordinator and seven other students. Subsequently the Workshop Coordinator discusses the digital recording with each student via a 30-minute one-on-one consultation. All Workshop materials including the digital recordings can be downloaded by the students from a dedicated website. Student feedback is obtained via an anonymous formal evaluation and via postings on the website.
The focus of this paper is to provide an overview of a Workshop on Oral Communication Skills that the author has taught for the past two years in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the National University of Singapore. This non-credit Workshop is required for all graduate students in the Department. The Workshop goals are to prepare students to make both formal oral as well as poster technical presentations. Considerations that present special challenges are that the Workshop involves a relatively large number of students (45-75) from diverse cultural backgrounds (primarily from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Middle East) for many of whom English is not their first language. As such, many of these students are more reticent and less outgoing than typical U.S. students. Interestingly, components of effective public speaking such as maintaining good eye contact, lightening up a talk with humor, or ‘dressing for the occasion’ can be difficult to implement for students from some cultures.
In writing this paper the author had some difficulty in deciding in which voice to write the paper; that is, whether to consider the reader to be a student, who might be taking this Workshop, or an educator, who might be faced with coordinating a similar workshop. The end result was a compromise between the choices. Hence, parts of this paper that deal with the creation of the website for this Workshop, the nature of the materials posted on this website, evaluation and student feedback, and the challenges faced in coordinating this Workshop are directed towards the educator. However, parts that deal directly with good oral communication skills technique are directed towards the student. Hopefully looking at what is presented to the student will be helpful to the educator who is interested in teaching a similar workshop.
This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 describes the materials posted on the dedicated website created for this Workshop. Section 3 provides an overview on organizing a technical
Krantz, W. (2008, June), Oral Communication Skills Workshop For Students In Engineering And Applied Science Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3106
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