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Redesign of a Graduate Seminar Course Using Active Learning for Oral Presentation Skills

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Hamid Rad Washington State University

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Hamid Rad, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University, Vancouver. His areas of teaching and research interest include mechanical engineering design, design methodologies, and dynamic systems.

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Hakan Gurocak Washington State University - Vancouver

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Prof. Gurocak is the founding director of School of Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University Vancouver. His research interests include haptics, robotics and automation.

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This paper presents details of a seminar course offered to mechanical engineering graduate students at XXX University. This is a one–semester-credit course with a primary purpose of giving the students an opportunity to practice presentation skills in front of an audience and to explore topics assigned by the instructor. In a typical graduate seminar course, presenters from outside the department give weekly seminars and the students sit in the audience. The downside of this approach is that most students are very inactive and disengaged from the presentations. Often the topics are beyond the technical knowledge of the students, too.

In our approach, we engage the students in the process of preparing and giving effective oral presentations. First, two short articles are selected by the instructor. Half of the class is given one article and the other half gets the second article. Then, in the upcoming few lectures, each student presents his/her article in 5 minutes while the rest of the students are evaluating the presentation using an assessment tool. All feedback from the students and the instructor are given to the presenter. Using only two articles enables students to hear the same topic presented by different presenters to clearly see the difference a presenter can make on a given topic.

Next, the same exercise is repeated with two more new articles. The goal is for the students to incorporate the feedback to this second round of presentations and improve their skills. Finally, towards the end of the semester, each graduate student presents his/her own thesis research with the skills learned from his/her previous two presentations. The paper provides details of how the course was organized, the types of articles used and the assessment tool. Results on student progress in presentation skills and recommendations for implementation at other institutions conclude the paper.

Rad, H., & Gurocak, H. (2016, June), Redesign of a Graduate Seminar Course Using Active Learning for Oral Presentation Skills Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26059

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