Assigning Academic Posters, Feb. 2016

Have you considered assigning academic posters to take the place of other, more typical class projects or research reports?  Interesting and interactive, posters are assessment tools that highlight your students’ learning and encourage students to engage with one another and perhaps their campus or greater community as well. Perhaps you could even submit your students’ posters to the UConn Frontiers Program, the annual poster exhibition of student research, scholarship, and creative projects. Frontiers is a chance for students to share their work with the UConn community and with visitors to campus.

They afford students, or groups of students, who have been working on research projects the opportunity to display and share their findings in a clear, concise and accessible fashion.  Posters offer a combination of text and images (graphs, figures, photographs) that often contain the following:

  • Poster Title
  • Author
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods and Materials
  • Results, Conclusions and Implications
  • Acknowledgments & Works Cited

Because the amount of information that can fit on a poster is limited, students are challenged to condense material down to its most basic parts to create an attractive yet rigorous academic product.

By organizing poster sessions within your classroom, as a whole-school or department event, or in the broader community, you can help your students share their learning with others.  When students display their posters at sessions, discussing their work in detail with all who stop by, they become an active part of their academic community.

Students should consider these basic strategies when they present their posters:

  • Greet interested individuals a very brief but practiced talk
  • Elaborate only when asked (genuinely)
  • Don’t read from your poster
  • Look at the people standing in front of you, NOT at your poster
  • Refer viewers to sections of the poster, particularly figures or lists of results

Let’s face it, assessing work as students present their posters with pride can be much more fulfilling than grading a pile of exams that will be thrown away immediately afterward, and rubrics (like this sample Poster Presentation Rubric) can help make grading a breeze.  Refer to the following links for more details on assigning posters and poster presentations:

If you do not have time for a poster session or funds for the materials, consider moving the assignment and resulting session online as a virtual poster sessions; see Maximize In-Class Time: Move Student Presentations Online … for ideas on how to get started.