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Types of assignments

This guide will explain the types of assignment required at USW. Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn a Gymraeg

Why a presentation?

Presentations are an increasingly popular assignments in university courses. They fit in with the active learning element of most courses and highlight understanding and knowledge. It is also relevant to the workplace, as most employers will be looking for people who can present their work effectively, and is used extensively in the recruitment process.

The purpose of a presentation is to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the topic.

Therefore you need to know:

  1. What is the purpose of the presentation? - is it to explain or demonstrate something? Is it to persuade the audience or make an argument for or against something. Make sure you understand what you have been asked to do before you begin. 
  2. Who is the audience? - what do they know on this topic? You don't want to over explain if the audience are fellow students, who have a basic understanding. Alternatively, you don't want to underexplain, if they are members of the public or students from another course who don't have a background in the topic. this will dictate the breadth and depth you cover.
  3. How will it be structured? - after considering the purpose and the audience, the structure should have a clear beginning, middle and end. 

How you present this information will usually be specified in the assignment brief, but it is usually an oral presentation, like a slide show or a visual presentation like a poster.

See our Presentation resources and guides boxes for more help.

Oral presentations - using slides

Oral presentations require the presenter to speak in public on a prepared topic usually for a set time, usually 10-15 minutes. This normally but not always include visuals such as slides, images or photographs depending on the brief, but not always. Increasingly common are the PechaKucha style presentations with a limited number of slides for a set time, especially with students in Creative Industries.

Slide options include PowerPoint, Sway, Prezi or Google slides. 

Things to consider:
As well as the points covered in the Why a presentation?, the other things to consider for this kind of assessment are:

  1. Location - check the venue. If you are presenting in your classroom, you will be familiar with the size and layout and equipment available, but it is worth trying out your presentation beforehand outside teaching hours to test the venue.  If you are in a new, unfamiliar location it is worth going to see it and if possible trying out your presentation in this space beforehand.
  2. Practice - 'Practice makes perfect' is a useful phrase to keep in mind for any presenting task. It will help with the timing of the presentation as well as helping with nerves, and will improve the fluency of the delivery.
  3. Delivery - even people experienced in presenting or lecturing will get nervous in a new environment or when handling unfamiliar material. The more relaxed you can appear, the more confident your delivery will be. See the short guide from USW Study Skills in the guide box, for tips on delivery.
  4. Dealing with questions - it is usual at the end of a presentation to field any questions that the audience have. Because of the research you have conducted to compile the presentation, you will know more than you think you do. however it is useful to prepare for some likely questions in advance.

If you have to present as a group, use information in the Group assignment to help. 

Poster presentations

Visual presentations require the same skills as other forms of presenting, like knowing the purpose, audience and content structure, but it is the format of the presentation that you may be unfamiliar with. 

An effective poster can make a strong visual impact, so it's worth developing your poster planning skills. They can be print based or displayed digitally on screen, but whatever the medium of delivery, there can be an additional follow-up 'oral presentation' element to this assignment, where the presenter explains their findings or answers questions about the poster. 

Things to consider:
As well as the points covered in the Why a presentation?, the other things to consider for this kind of assessment are:

  1. Size - are there any limits on the size, is it portrait or landscape. Follow the guidelines given by your lecturer.
  2. Title - as this type of presentation is designed to communicate a topic concisely, a compelling title will be key in communicating the crux of the presentation to the audience quickly.
  3. Good design - plan your poster so that all the relevant information is included, in a clear simple way. Think about the layout, the font, the colours and use of images and data.  Also, consider the balance between text and white space, so that the information being conveyed isn't too cluttered.
  4. Less is more - the information you present should be clear and concise. A poster presentation is not an essay pinned to a wall, so edit your text so that only essential message is conveyed.  
  5. Easy navigation - there should be a clear visual path that the audience can navigate on the poster. Whether using columns or blocks of information, it should flow in an obvious direction, leading the reader through the story of the poster.
  6. Presenting the poster - the poster is not only part of the assessment, as you will still need to 'present' your poster to an audience. The points to consider when delivering an oral presentation (above) will apply to the poster presentation too, things like practice, delivery and dealing with questions.

If you have to present as a group, use information in the group assignment to help.