Category

speaking

Category

Tackling your first assessment

Starting an assessment task can be stressful. Not sure where to begin? Here are 5 steps to help you get on track:

Understand the task

During your course you’ll be expected to submit lots of different types of assessment. Understanding the assessment requirements and reading the task instructions carefully will help you stay on track and submit what is actually required. If you’re unfamiliar with academic writing you might what to check out types of assignments. The assessment guidelines include the marking rubric (CRA) which outlines the standards used to grade your work. These often contain extra information about weighting of marks and how many references to include so it pays to read them carefully for EVERY assessment task. The instructions also include information about the accepted format, referencing style and mode of delivery for presentations. Find out more about CRA sheets.

Analyse the task instructions

Once you’ve checked out the task itself and looked at all the criteria it helps to break it down further. You can unpack the assignment by identifying key words that tell you more about what is required:

    Content words identify the topic or issues related to your task.
    Directive words explain what you need to do to meet the criteria and how to do it.
    Limiting words narrow the scope of your assessment by providing more detail.

Use the key words to brainstorm everything you know about the content (topic) so that you are ready for the next step. Find examples of directive words in the Task Word Glossary.

Research the narrowed down topic

Use the content words (which tell you about the topic) and limiting words to make a research plan. Make a list of questions that you need to answer and make sure you read with that purpose in mind. It’s important to note the searches you do so you can keep refining the search and find the most relevant, current information. If you don’t feel confident about researching a topic QUT Library has a stack of online resources to guide you through the process.

Organise your notes effectively

You need to read and note the information you have identified as useful for your assessment task. There’s no one method that works for everyone but it helps to have a basic system and to keep reviewing and refining your skills during the semester. So, make sure you develop a process to organise your information in a way that makes your life easier. Record the reference material every time you refer to a source. If you are doing this electronically use file names that make it easy to locate the information later and store the files under topics so you can locate them again for future reference. Learn more about effective notetaking in our study guides.

Make a detailed plan

Whether you’re writing an essay or preparing a presentation it always helps to have a really good plan. Use the task instructions to map out what you need to include in your assessment task.
Most written assignments require you to organise the information logically and the task instructions will often give you a structure to follow.
It may be tempting to think that it’s not so important to write a plan for a presentation but careful planning goes a long way! Planning the content, structure and timing of a presentation is essential to achieve maximum grades. Check out QUT’s guides for preparing a presentation.

The first assessment you do at uni or the first assessment for a new unit can feel a bit overwhelming and it’s easy to let self-doubt creep in. The good news is, you’re not alone at there are so many resources to support you. Check out academic help and workshops available to you this semester.

How to feel confident presenting online

Now more than ever we’re being asked to embrace technology and step out of our comfort zones to present information online. There are so many amzaing tools out there to create a presentaion but it takes a bit of work for most of us to actually feel confident in front of a camera. Trial and error can be the best way to get comfortable with new technology but it also helps to have a plan.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
Like any presentation the key is preparation. This means getting started early and planning.

  • Create a clear focus with 1-3 key message(s).
  • Revise your drafts and edit out unnecessary content.
  • Make notes for each screen / section.
  • Think about how you are going to engage the audience.
  • Practise timing of spoken presentation.
  • Become familiar with the technology (eg. Zoom, Viva Voce, Collaborate etc)
    No matter which web conferencing software you use the key is understanding its features. Make sure you know how to control the following:

  • Screen sharing and presenter view.
  • Playing an embedded video (if relevant).
  • Using a spotlight or highlight on a speaker.
  • Setting up and testing audio and video.
  • Set everything up fully to achieve the best results
    It’s also important to choose a suitable location for your presentation. Make sure you find a space which is quiet and has good lighting. This may mean booking a study room in the library or going to a friend’s house when they’re out. If at home let others know that you are presenting live or recording so you’re not interrupted.

    Before you start, think about your appearance.

  • Wear appropriate clothing – smart casual (no PJs!).
  • Angle your camera just above eye level to frame your shoulders and face.
  • Keep your face well-lit with natural light, or place a lamp behind the camera, towards your face.
  • Remove personal items or anything visible in the background.
  • Do a final check of the technology.

  • Test earphones, phone camera or webcam.
  • Close down all unnecessary browsers, windows or apps and turn notifications off.
  • Have notes ready (printed or in presenter view).
  • Test slideshare settings in presenter view.
  • Check the audio and video settings.
  • Log into the web meeting on another device to check the audience view.

  • Tips for pre-recording your presentation

    Some assessment tasks require you to record your presentation and upload the file. The same principles apply but you may need to do things a bit differently when pre-recording.

  • Practise making a short recording then watch it back.
  • Pause when you transition between slides or present complex information.
  • Speak from notes rather than ‘reading’.
  • Breath and smile as you talk.
  • Follow assessment task instructions carefully.
  • Don’t forget to hit record!
  • Whether you’re presenting in person or online being a clear, confident and engaging communicator is an essential skill to have so it’s worth investing some time and energy into it. Check out more QUT resources on presenting online.

    Using phrasal verbs

    A phrasal verb is a verb that is made up of a main verb combined with an adverb or a preposition, or both. Sometimes the meaning is really obvious but more often than not the meaning cannot be guessed by looking at the individual words. For example, look up can mean ‘look in an upward direction’ whereas give up means to ‘stop trying to do something’.

    Check out English Grammar Online to learn about phrasal verbs containing up, on, turn, out, down, off, look, come, get and go. The site includes short quizzes to test understanding.

    Having better conversations

    It seems obvious but the ability to start conversations and talk confidently is something that will help you in all aspects of life. Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist who has years’ of experience interviewing people from all over the world. Here are her tips for having a good conversation:

    • Stop what you are doing. Give the other person your full attention.
    • Assume you have something to learn.
    • Use open-ended questions.
    • Go with the flow.
    • Don’t pretend to know if you don’t know.
    • Don’t repeat yourself.
    • Don’t give too many details.
    • Listen actively.

    Check out her entertaining TED Talk on 10 ways to have a better conversation.