Interactive and Effective Online Student Presentations with Kritik

At the University of Buffalo, Dr. Alexis Thompson has focused her efforts in research; more specifically related to substance abuse disorders and maternal behaviours. She is now a Professor in the Department of Psychology, and increased her teaching load. Many professors switching from a research role to a teaching role would be overwhelmed with COVID-19 and online teaching, but Dr. Thompson flourished in her ability to leverage Kritik to ensure her students in Buffalo (and Singapore!) were able to develop their critical thinking abilities in an online format.

Dr. Thompson placed a huge emphasis on wanting her students to develop their communication skills, especially through presentations. Her classes traditionally would have students present each week, and all of the other students would evaluate them on their presenting skills. Dr. Thompson leveraged Kritik to ensure that students would present over Zoom, but other students would be able to evaluate each of the students presenting through Kritik. Dr. Thompson not only wanted students to develop their skills as a presenter, but she really wanted her students to develop their evaluative abilities.

Students had the opportunity to present both in groups and individually. She provided a very detailed rubric so students could hone in on the exact grade of a presentation, and she was able to go into the Kritik platform and override certain student’s grades so that the rest of the class could see what she thought of the presentation. She guided their ability as an evaluator, and their Evaluation Scores allowed her to identify which students were struggling as an evaluator.

The Spring term was a mess for many professors, but Dr. Thompson was able to utilize Kritik to maintain and deliver the learning objectives she believes are important for her students. Dr. Thompson was able to use Kritik more effectively in her online summer course in Singapore, and felt more comfortable with the platform and saw better results from her students. Dr. Thompson is using Kritik in her Psychology 101 course this Fall, and is excited to use Kritik in a different way thanks to the broad scope of the platform.

Presentations are an example of an element that professors think cannot be emulated within an online teaching environment. However, Kritik fosters an opportunity for students to delve deeper into the presentation process both as a presenter and a reviewer. In-class presentations are often met with anxiety and bore by students in post-secondary classrooms. Students tend to disengage with in-class presentations due to the availability of distractions (namely media and body language of presenters). Peer evaluation has been proven to make a positive impact on the in-class presentation process as reported by students. As evidenced in Dr. Thompson's class, students were able to engage further with their peers' presentations by providing critical and actionable feedback for the student to learn from. Students are typically motivated by their grades on their presentations, because they are not used to receiving personalized feedback. When a student in Dr. Thompson's class presented, they received an abundance of feedback in addition to grades on different criteria outlined by Dr. Thompson, which allowed them to refine their presentation skills for their futures. Online presentations do not allow students to practice certain skills like body language and eye contact. The flexibility of Kritik's rubric system allowed Dr. Thompson to create a rubric based more on the content of what student's are delivering. By modifying the existing presentation template, Dr. Thompson made significant changes to the rubric to enable students to focus on elements of a Zoom presentation like Content and Audience Engagement. This design tactic proved to fruitful as students were engaged with their peers' presentations to evaluate them on the aforementioned criteria. The students were able to practice delivering a presentation that is meant to be engaging to an audience, as opposed to a traditional in-class presentation that would not serve them much benefit in terms of learning about the topic as well as becoming better presenters in their futures.

Dr. Thompson is always looking to improve as an instructor. The unfortunate circumstance of a pandemic negatively impacts many in-class learning opportunities. While many professors have struggled with the stress and time needed to make online learning effective, Dr. Thompson utilized Kritik to make her Psychology 101 course more personalized and effective for her students. Coordinating presentations with more than 100 students in an introductory psychology class would not be effective for a course that large. Professor Thompson understands the importance of application and learning for first year students. Learning psychology concepts online presents a different challenge, and Professor Thompson utilized Kritik to help students connect critically with the material and their peers. Whether it's presentations, writing prompts based on the material, or refining her students' annotated bibliographies, Professor Thompson has adopted Kritik to make those processes meaningful and effective.

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Dr. Alexis Thompson
Dr. Alexis Thompson
University of Buffalo
Professor of Psychology