Mentor Roadmaps - Making Presentations

Pulling it Together to Make Meaning and Get Feedback

Final presentations are valuable opportunities for students to pull together their understandings as they document their investigations for others. Not all PlantingScience students will complete a full inquiry cycle online. Many classes may make final presentations and have discussions about their projects in the classroom. Time constraints often limit students' ability to post final thoughts online for feedback from mentors.

We encourage teachers to prepare their students for final presentations within a science community, give them a glimpse into the role of presentations in scientists’ work-a-day lives and where they see science presented around them in their own lives. We also encourage teachers to share the rubrics they will use for assessing final presentations with both students and mentors.

Reviewing Final Presentations

Oral Presentations, Research Papers, and Posters are common student presentation formats that mirror those used by scientists. Students might also create songs or videos or dances.

No matter what format teachers assign for student final presentations, education research documents that students typically struggle with generating evidence-based conclusions and thinking about the implications of their findings. As a professor or online mentor, you have probably seen this before. Students collect data with little difficulty. But when it comes to making a conclusion, they simply re-state the results.

How can we help students take a great leap forward to making sense of them? As novice learners, students lack the breadth and depth of understanding about a field that experts almost unconsciously tap into when they analyze and interpret their own research. Without this context, students often do not know where to begin.

See the Student Making Presentations and Teacher Making Presentations resources for classroom tips.

Tips for Mentors.

  • Put your research in context. What is already known and in the published literature? What is your approach to answering the research question and why you are asking it?
  • Make your presentation understandable to a wide audience, experts and others not familiar to the research field.
  • Consider how your results relate to others. How do your data compare to teams doing similar research? What could explain any similarities or differences in the results?
  • Justify your conclusion using evidence from your study. Are your conclusions are consistent with data from your study?
  • Are there alternative explanations that should be considered?
  • Are there limitations that should be considered?
  • Suggest what next research would be worth doing based on your findings. What would you do differently if you could do the project over? What research would you suggest as follow-up studies?
  • Put your research in a big-picture perspective. Scientists often call this the “So-What” question. It can be a challenge to describe why someone other than you should care about your research. Who can use your findings and how?