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Guidelines for Class Presentations

For the Presenter

  1. Your presentation should include ALL of these basic elements and be limited to 15 minutes:
    1. A PRESENTATION OF PRIMARY SOURCE MATERIAL IN THE MEDIUM OF YOUR CHOICE (an essay, a work of art, a dramatic presentation, a multimedia computer presentation, an interpretive dance, a debate, a slide presentation, a short story, an architectural model, etc.). Visual aids and/or handouts may be used to enhance your presentation. (Suggested time: 8-10 minutes)
    2. A DISCUSSION OF THE PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES YOU USED. (Where did you find the primary sources for your project? What problems did you have working with these primary sources? Did you have to modify your original topic because of a lack of primary sources? Where did you find your secondary sources? If you used the Internet for primary or secondary sources, which search engine(s) did you find most useful?). (Suggested time: 1-2 minutes)
    3. A DISCUSSION OF HOW YOU WOULD IMPROVE THE PROJECT if you had an opportunity to do it over again. (Would you modify the topic in any way? Would you use a different medium? Would you try to increase or decrease the number of sources you used?) (Suggested time: 1-2 minutes)
    4. A PERIOD OF AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION (QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS). Allow time at the end of your presentation for interaction with your audience. Invite questions or comments. (Suggested time: 3-5 minutes)
  2. In preparing for your presentation, be sure to consider:
    1. YOUR AUDIENCE. (Will your audience need some background information to understand your topic? Will the visual aids you are planning to use be visible to people in back of the room?)
    2. THE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT. If possible, go into the classroom when no one is present and get a feel for what it is like to stand in front of the room. Pick the location where you would like to start your presentation and see if you feel comfortable in moving around the room. Bring a friend with you and test your voice level. Determine how loud you will need to speak to be heard by people in the back of the room. See if there is anything in the room that might distract you from giving a good presentation.
    3. THE EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED. If you plan to use equipment for your presentation – a slide projector, a VCR and television monitor, a computer, an overhead projector – plan ahead. Find out what you will need to do to get the equipment there in time for your presentation. If you need to put in a request to reserve the equipment, do so as soon as possible. Reserve all the necessary cables to run the equipment as well as an extension cord, if one is necessary. Also, get instruction on how to operate the particular piece of equipment you will be using the day of your presentation. Not all VCRs or slide projectors are the same. Attention to this kind of detail can make a big difference the day of your presentation.
    4. DELIVERY OF YOUR PRESENTATION. On the day of your presentation, be fully prepared (know what you want to say and how you want to say it). Make eye contact with your audience and speak loudly enough so that everyone can hear you. If you are using notes, you may place them on the lectern so that your hands are free to move naturally. As you develop your topic (or show your film or PowerPoint presentation), feel free to move about the room. Your audience will be relieved to discover that you are not glued to the place where you started your presentation. Most importantly, relax and be yourself. You know more about your subject than anyone in the room. If you’re excited about what you’ve learned, your audience will be receptive.
    5. TIME LIMITATIONS Rehearse your presentation at least once so that you are sure you can complete it within the allocated time (15 minutes).
  3. A written report is due the day of your presentation. It should contain the following elements:
    1. TITLE OF PROJECT (Be creative).
    2. DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT (If you are writing an essay, it should be no more than 10 pages, including bibliography. If you are using another medium, the report should be 1-2 pages, plus bibliography).
    3. BIBLIOGRAPHY Please separate your reference material into two categories:
      1. PRIMARY SOURCES (materials and records from the period under study, including bones, tools, weapons, and pottery; myths, legends, and songs; drawings and maps; written records ranging from ancient manuscripts to treaties, diaries, books, and newspapers).
      2. SECONDARY SOURCES (books, articles, papers, and other documents written by those were not eyewitnesses to the events in question).
  4. Although you may be familiar with other methods of citing bibliographical references, in most college-level history classes (including this one), you will be expected to use the style recommended by the MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION (MLA) for preparing scholarly manuscripts and student research papers. Here are samples of how your bibliography should look. (Note the indent in the second line of each reference.):
    1. BOOKS
    2. Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
      Company, 1918.

      Johnson, R. U., and C.C. Buel, editors. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 4 volumes. New York: The Century Company, 1887-88.

    4. Curti, Merle. "Intellectuals and Other People." American Historical Review, LX (January, 1955), 259-282.

      "Mr. Coolidge on Business as a Spiritual Force." The Literary Digest, December 5, 1925, pp. 5-7.

    6. "Jackson, Andrew." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994, XII, 851-853.

      Lee, Edwin A. "Vocational Education." Encyclopedia Americana, 1990, XXVIII, 160-161.

    7. WEB PAGES
    8. Author's last name, first name. Title: Capitalize Initial Letter of Each Word.
      Date of publication: day Mon. year. Name of sponsoring organization.
      Date page found: day Mon. year. <URL of page>
      Van Helden, Albert and Elizabeth Burr. The Galileo Project, Homepage.
      5 Aug. 1996. Rice University. 8 Mar. 1998
  5. A computer diskette is also due the day of  your presentation. It should contain the following objects, which will be used on a Web page devoted to your project:
      1. ABSTRACT (a 100-200 word summary of your project).
      2. INTERNET SOURCES (three or four of the best sources relating to your project).
      3. IMAGES (several computer graphics files relating to your project).
      4. SOUNDS (one or more sound files relating to your project).

For the Audience

  1. BE COURTEOUS DURING PRESENTATIONS. You will be expected to give presenters your complete attention. Afford them the same courtesy that you expect when you are giving your presentation. Keep your desk free of distractions (books, homework assignments, etc.) and focus your attention on the presentation.
  2. BE PREPARED TO OFFER BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CRITICISM OF PRESENTATIONS. You will have an evaluation sheet to complete for each presenter. This will give you the opportunity to access the strengths and weaknesses of each presentation.
  3. PARTICIPATE IN THE QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS PERIOD FOLLOWING EACH PRESENTATION. The evaluation form gives you an opportunity to think about various aspects of the presentation and to write down questions that come to mind as you listen to the presentation. Your participation in the "Questions and Comments" period will give presenters the necessary feedback to improve future research projects and presentations.


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Copyright 1999-2000 Edrene S. Montgomery
Last modified: October 31, 1999