Paper-based exams are not fully representative of knowledge, and it is good to consider oral presentations of students as a factor for the final grade to some extent. This is somehow the case in graduate courses, where the number of students is lesser, but how to follow this strategy for crowded classroom of inexperienced undergraduate students. I mean a classroom of 50+ size with students who do not have experience in scientific discussion!

2 Answers 2


I've had classes of this size where I have each student do an individual presentation. It is very time consuming but I also feel it can be very worthwhile.

If you give each student 10 minutes to present some information and you have 50 students then you will have 12-13 hours for presentations (allowing 15 minutes total per student including Q&A, changing students, etc.) If you teach in 2-hour sessions then it will consume 6-7 sessions. If you have 30-32 sessions per semester it is doable but it also removes a significant chunk of time from lecturing.

In my case, I lectured for several weeks (giving the students time to do their research and giving them the foundations they needed for their presentations) and then had the students give their presentations. Then I continued lecturing with other assessments later on. The module was not about presentation skills but I do feel that in each subject, we need to teach the students some general skills (structuring an argument, how to format text, how to research, giving a presentation, etc.) in addition to the module content.

The students ended up understanding the material quite well when judged by their presentations and I found many of them quite eager to learn how they could improve their presentation skills.

In the end, I was happy with the overall results and plan to do it again.


I would like to add to earthling's answer. If you have teaching assistants, please do make good use of them in this aspect.

As a TA, I have had excellent experiences in mentoring undergraduates to prepare research presentations, final papers, projects and proposals for these papers and project. Of course, we were generally in a class of 120-160 students so that speaks to a classroom scale higher than what you are suggesting. There were 3 graduate TA's, usually and we each had about 50 students to mentor. We found that we could devote significant amounts of time to each student when we met them on a one-on-one basis. Of course, the professor also met them one-on-one and there were a couple of rounds of iteration of their final presentations - which was very, very useful for the professors, the TA's and the students. As mentioned previously, it was a time sink, but very well worth it.

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