FAQs - General Learning and Academic Life
- Why do I feel so scared now that I've stared my course?
- Is there an academic standard for a PowerPoint presentation?
- Do I need to be a speed reader to keep up with all my uni reading?
Commencing a uni course is a rather 'scary' event for many students. It's okay to feel this way. 'Butterflies in the stomach' is quite a common experience as we launch into a new set of studies. Learning is all about challenging our knowledge status quo; moving outside our comfort zone; and climbing out of our thinking silos. So, as we move into new learning territory, we feel scared, and perhaps a little intimidated by a study schedule that we cannot fully control. We even begin to wonder why we ever commenced such a painful course of action!!!
Solution? Just feel 'comfortable' about feeling uncomfortable for awhile, because learning is all about jumping to a new level of understanding about self, the world, and finding my place in the world.
The answer to your question is No and Yes! NO, because from what I've seen in student and lecturer use of PowerPoint, almost anything goes! And since, as students and professionals, we aim for quality presentation, then YES there are standards to maintain.
Check the Marking Criteria within the assessment section of your Subject Guide; often you will find the guidance there you will need. Automatically built into the PowerPoint application program are some good practice principles in visual presentations, and these we do not need to think about.
However, two principles are often broken because they are not obvious. One good principle to?? maintain is called the 7 words by 7 lines rule. In other words, limit the info on any given slide to no more than 7 lines of text, with no more than 7 words to each line of text. Do not try to overload your viewer with an abundance of text and information. Give the minimum within the slide to focus the hearer's attention and then enthral them by demonstrating your understandings of the topic discussion. Let hearers fill in the gaps as they like.
The second rule which is often broken is the KISS principle. KISS - Keep It Short & Sweet! Another way of saying: do not overload your hearer/viewer with too much colour, animations, audio signals, etc, that all come within the easy potential of the PowerPoint application program. Impress your hearers with your grasp of the topic, rather than awe them with your ability to manipulate text, sound and visuals in presenting a visually inspiring display that is empty of any real content.
If you are careful not to break these two simple rules then you're well on the way to getting a presentable and powerful slide show, particularly if you present an easy-to-follow but informative summary of the issues, concepts, problems or tensions that form part of your topic analysis. It's good academic practice to use references to support your ideas presented, and so you should maintain the CSU author-date referencing style within your PowerPoint text. In other words, simply acknowledge your sources of ideas, etc, as you would in a report or essay. Maybe include a final page of references, that you can either show or leave for those who are really interested.
Let me first dispel the myth about slow and fast readers. Speed of reading is not the issue; it's reading for understanding that's important. If I had to read the texts you're reading for psychology, I'd be a slow reader, I'm sure of it! I don't know the subject; I therefore don't have a knowledge of the 'language' of psychology - the specialised words used, the language patterns, and ways of expressing ideas and concepts. I would be reading slowly in order to take it all in, make sense of it, and accommodate all the new stuff into my existing thinking patterns and knowledge bank. So... there's no real reason for you to feel apologetic about, or to feel bad about, your reading style or your learning capacities. Altering the speed of our reading is good reading technique, as we try to match our level of understanding with the type of textual material we are reading.
That said, there are things we can do as readers to make our reading more effective. Here are some websites you'll possibly find useful help from: