Presenting your research ideas for the first time can be a daunting prospect. It’s the unknowns really – what will they think of my topic, my method, my stats, my hair?! Fear not, young Padawan learners, we are here to help. The annual STC is not only an opportunity for you to present your research, but for staff to provide you with feedback and to challenge your thinking. Feedback is provided to help you learn and to help guide you towards a better understanding of the research being conducted. That feedback can be positive, but also challenging. Everybody wants to receive positive feedback, but for me what separates a good presentation from a not-so-good one is how you respond to challenging questions. As lecturers we judge your performance on a number of factors. At the most basic level, do you know things (facts) about the topic. More importantly though, can you talk around the topic by providing a balanced argument on the evidence for, and against. That’s not easy to do but it’s those students who can broadly discuss their research and relate it to previous studies who will be able to demonstrate critical thinking, ultimately leading to a higher grade. That being said, challenging you on your research is not designed to catch you out – Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! As experienced educators, we know that providing a balance between being supportive and challenging you to think more deeply about your research, will ultimately make you a better (and lifelong) learner. The research skills you learn doing your dissertation will not only help you to understand your topic better, but will provide you with the critical analysis skills to help you navigate through life – like choosing who to vote for. Ultimately, we challenge you so that you can learn to think like a scientist – don’t assume anything, demand to see the evidence, and ultimately, make up your own mind based on that evidence, rather than relying on someone else to do it for you.
Grant Abt – @grantabt