Being teachers and instructors, we frequently include oral presentations into our syllabi. Unlike other group or individual activities, Power Point presentations on a particular content area seems to be the most loved one among university students.
It is true that, due to the lack of presentation skills, the majority of students have many flaws and technical mistakes during an oral presentation (e.g. gestures, eye-contact, regulation of speech tone, etc.), yet students’ presentation skills prevail over their listening skill. Many years of experience have shown that during the oral presentations the students are completely ignorant to their peers. While the groupmate(s) is presenting the topic in front of the class, the rest of the students are busy with anything but listening to their mates; interestingly, their activities may range from repeating their notes (which is the most frequent case), talking to each other, surfing the internet, or even playing online games.
When it comes to asking questions from the presenter, definitely, no questions would follow since the majority of the students simply did not hear/listen to the presentation. This comes from the lack of students’ concentration, causing an inability to analyse and process oral speech, i.e. inability to ask questions on a particular topic on time.
Thus, here are some tips how to involve your students into peer-listening:
- Prepare the evaluation checklist and distribute it to the students. Ask your students to evaluate their peers according to the certain rubrics. See the example below:
- Ask each student to prepare two questions for a presentation they are going to listen to. Emphasize that the best question will be selected at the end of the class, and the student will get an extra grade for it.
- Have less than 5 presentations per class; otherwise students get tired from excessive listening. Moreover, many students themselves are eager to present well, so they use others’ presentation time to repeat their notes. In order to have more listeners, have less presenters.
- Take breaks between the presentations (especially with the students who are not accustomed to presentations).
- Engage students into the graded discussion. Ask questions on what they have gotten from the presentation.
- Finally, the most important is to explain to your students that being a good listener is as important as being a good speaker. If you Don’t Listen to others, No One will Listen to you!