- Keywords: Peer pre-check, self-check lists, PowerPoint presentation, autonomous learning
- Leaner English level: Intermediate to advanced
- Learner maturity: High school to university level
- Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Activity time: Two 30-minute lessons to explain the strategies and answer questions, eight 15-minute lessons on peer pre-checks, and a 1-hour lesson on PowerPoint presentations (varies depending on the learners and the institution)
- Materials: Computer, projector, screen, PowerPoint file, checklists
PowerPoint presentations afford outstanding opportunities to develop English communication skills in conveying your message to others and using effective body language. However, without careful preparation, PowerPoint presentations can become daunting both for teachers and students. In some cases, audiences become bored with viewing the same slide while the presenter monotonously reads his or her script without making any eye contact with the audience. Students also often hesitate in front of audiences because they cannot read what they have written; for example, Japanese students often neglect to determine the pronunciation of English words they use in their presentations. Other possible problems with PowerPoint presentations include technical malfunctions, the use of text-heavy slides, and the presenter’s inability to open the PowerPoint file due to unfamiliar operating systems. Although students’ autonomy should be respected, instructors can support them by monitoring their processes of preparing PowerPoint presentations. To prevent students’ embarrassment and promote autonomous learning, instructors can use the following ideas to provide students with opportunities to engage in peer pre-checks and use self-check lists to objectively assess their preparedness to deliver PowerPoint presentations.
Copy enough checklists for students (see Appendices).
Step 1: Explain the topic, peer pre-check, self-check lists, the two deadlines (i.e., preliminary and final), and the precheck schedule. Ideally, give 3-4 students 15-20 minutes at the end of each class to write their peer evaluations as a group while other students complete worksheets.
Step 2: It is most helpful to reserve the lesson prior to the deadline of first submission to address technical and language-related problems common in PowerPoint presentations.
Step 3: Collect a PowerPoint file and an English manuscript from each student and distribute self-check lists on the first day of peer evaluation.
Step 4: At the end of each class, facilitate peer pre-checks for 3-4 students for 15-20 minutes total.
Step 5: Have each student deliver his or her PowerPoint presentation in front of 2-3 peers who use the peer checklists to evaluate the presentation.
Step 6: After each student’s presentation, allow time for the presenter to receive comments from peers and the instructor. Encourage and give advice on presentation delivery (e.g., regarding eye contact, vocal pitch, and tone) and transitions from one slide to the next.
Step 7: Following all peer evaluations, set a deadline for the final submission of the PowerPoint files, English manuscripts, and the self-check lists so that students can reflect upon and revise their presentation files and manuscripts before doing their presentations.
Having to solve the problems of unprepared students on the day of their presentations wastes the time of both teachers and students. Checklists completed in advance enable students to recognize the requirements of the presentation as well as to take measures to avoid technical problems, while peer prechecks afford opportunities to give and receive feedback on advanced-level communication skills that can support the development of effective presentation skills. By collaborating in the process of preparation of PowerPoint presentations, students’ motivation and presentation skills improve.
The appendices are available below.