Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grad students learn effective presentation skills at the 2011 "Not a Retreat, But a Forward"

Graduate student participants at the 2011 "Not a Retreat, But a Forward"

Each January, the IU Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program offers a professional development workshop for graduate students from the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses called “Not a Retreat, But a Forward.” The topic for the fifth annual workshop was “Effective Presentations.” Previous workshop topics covered grant writing skills and effective communication skills.

“Not A Retreat But A Forward” was co-hosted for the first time by the IUPUI UPnGO ( and the IU AGEP program ( on the Bloomington campus. In addition to IU AGEP students who are primarily in the natural sciences and mathematics, attendees also included graduate students from the social and behavioral sciences, education and the humanities.

One attendee commented: “I sometimes think I am not adequately able to articulate myself verbally (I'm better at written communication) so this workshop was helpful for that purpose.”

Five advanced IUB doctoral students facilitated the day-long workshop: Valerie Benton, Biochemistry; Nancy Ortiz, Chemistry; Paul Rohwer, Computer Science; Tiffani Saunders, Sociology; and Carlos Zednik, Cognitive Science. Each demonstrated how to design and deliver a different kind of informal and formal presentations such as roundtables, paper, oral and lightening talks. Tips on constructing effective slides were also shared and students were able to practice what they learned in small groups.

“AGEP offers excellent, needed topics, the events are well attended and so organized, the presenters are excellent and respond to questions and further feedback, and overall, it is a great learning experience that really enhances our IU graduate school experience,” writes another attendee.

AGEP is a National Science Foundation-funded grant program dedicated to the increasing the number and diversity of Ph.D. graduates in the sciences and engineering who go on to academic careers.