Student Powerpoint Presentation (French)
Student Powerpoint Presentations
Dr. Nigel Harkness, French Studies, School of Languages, Literature and Arts
The overall aims of the module, French Studies B, level 1, is to develop the students' French language skills, their knowledge of France as a country and the French as a nation. The objective is to enhance the students' language development - the ability to express and communicate ideas in French.
There are approximately 135 students with A-level and Leaving Certificate with a background in French attending the module. They have a diverse range of ICT skills, but the standard of skills is improving from year to year. The majority have the confidence to work with ICT and the group work involved in this element of the module encourages them to help each other.
The teaching methods adopted for this module include discussion type seminars and group work. The students use a book which explores contemporary issues in France, supplemented by journal articles. Work consists of writing short pieces on these issues and doing translations.
The ICT Element
The ICT element forms part of the Français Pratique 1 element of the module, which takes up one hour per week and for which the Stage 1 French class is broken into groups of between 15 and 20 students. These seminar groups are further subdivided for the ICT project into groups of about 3-4 students. The student groups are given up-to-date topics to research using the Internet. Tutors spend approximately 1 hour talking through the topics for projects with the students. Students then prepare and present this topic to the class by way of a PowerPoint presentation. This forms part of the assessment. The student presentation is about 15 to 20 minutes. The aim is to develop their presentation and information literacy skills. For some of the topics, the only source of information is the Internet: newspapers, government sites, etc. Some students already have good information literacy skills from A-Level but they need to work on evaluating Internet resources, particularly with regard to ensuring information on the web is up-to-date and authentic. A worksheet has been prepared to address this and will be used with incoming first years.
The group presentation integrates two sets of ICT skills, the use of PowerPoint and effective use of the Internet, and develops other key skills, presentation and group work skills. Internet searching expands their knowledge of topical issues in France. They also learn from each other's presentations.
Incentives to Innovate
This Level 1 module was restructured three years ago. There were three factors to introducing change:
- The department was looking for innovative assessment methods;
- There was a growing awareness of the need to embed ICT skills in the curriculum and to develop the use of ICT for French. Students were already required to use word processing skills but it was felt that more could be done;
- French Studies wanted to make more use of the Language Centre facilities and also to collaborate on a joint project with the Centre.
There was an impact on staff time in the six months preceding the introduction of the ICT element. This focused largely on sorting out student training and putting together the documentation that would be needed. Discussions on how to assess the module have also taken up some time, as this was a new type of assessment and it has undergone refinement over the subsequent years. There was also the need to help tutors set up equipment in rooms for classes in the French Studies building. However, the practice now is to book rooms in the Peter Froggatt Centre or the Language Centre where facilities are available.
French Studies received support from the Training and Assessment Unit and the Educational Technology Unit within Information Services. The lecturer also had considerable support from the Language Centre in training students in the use of PowerPoint. Students were also encouraged to attend the PowerPoint training provided by the Information Services Training and Assessment Unit, and were also directed to computer-based learning packages. There has been a fall off in numbers attending training sessions however. However, it is perceived that there is a growing level of confidence among students in learning and using PowerPoint.
This module was popular with first year students during the first year of delivery. Working on a contemporary topic in France was relevant to them and they appreciated learning a new, transferable, ICT skill, which, in turn, boosted their confidence. The experience of undertaking PowerPoint at Level 1 is having a positive impact on what they do at level 2. They did feel, however, that it involved a lot of work for something that did not seem to count for much in the module. French Studies did not give it sufficient weight in that first year.
The weighting given to this ICT element has been increased slightly during the second year of delivery of the module. Overall satisfaction among students remained high. They like doing something that is a little different for assessment. They are applying their French in a slightly different way.
There was some unease at the beginning among staff as no one was really using PowerPoint as part of their teaching. One or two staff raised their own ICT awareness and began to use PowerPoint presentations. The fact that students are researching topics themselves is seen as a positive move.
Effects of ICT Embedding
The following lists summarise how the PowerPoint presentation has helped particular aspects of the module.
Effects on the teaching processes:
- The balance of control is shared between tutor and students. The presentation is student led. There has been a slight change in the delivery of the teaching in that there are two weeks of live student presentations taking over class time, but the students are still speaking and hearing French and learning about France. As further added value, presentations can be used in follow-up sessions to clarify grammatical points, etc.
- Students are given a formative assessment in the first semester, which forms part of a class assessment.
Effects on the learning process:
- The high quality of presentations shows that there is good student motivation.
- There is some evidence that dialogue with peers or tutor is happening but it varies with the group. In carrying out research for their topic, students are contacting other French people they know and getting in touch with organisations in France.
- Collaborative group work is a new activity to students at Level 1.
- The introduction of the ICT element has increased the student load.
Effects on learning outcomes:
- The module addresses research skills.
- Within the context of Level 1 there is evidence of some critical, analytic skills.
- Students are enhancing their ICT skills which will be of benefit to them in other areas of their studies. They are learning to work within a group, to learn collaboratively and to manage their own time. Their communication skills, both oral and written, are enhanced also.
Effects on module management:
- There was initial impact on staff time in organising training for students and in the preparation of documentation for training. Discussions on how to assess the module have taken up some time, as this was a new type of assessment.
For now the module is fairly well established and will run in its current form for next year. It sits very nicely within the module unit. It is probably not now as innovative as it was. The Department is keen to further the University strategy on skills to embed ICT in learning and teaching. Further development of the module would be the use of a web page as a repository and a delivery method. The tutor would like to introduce the topic of evaluating Internet resources with the students and to provide more guidance on making presentations.