Senior Comprehensive Requirement

Senior Comprehensive Formal Presentation

Dept of Chemistry and Physics

            Professional scientists at all levels are frequently called upon to give poster and oral presentations to their peers, managers, subordinates, and the general public. Although the topics of these presentations might vary with audience, the expectation is that the professional can present clearly about his or her area of expertise.  The Senior Seminar is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop necessary presentation skills and to grow in their abilities to present clearly and well.  Senior Seminar is divided into Fall and Spring sessions.

            The goals of the fall-semester seminar (Senior Seminar I) are to give the student the background information and tools needed to construct an appropriate presentation and to provide an opportunity for a student to deliver various kinds of presentations and gain experience by practice.

            The goal of the spring-semester seminar (Senior Seminar II) is to provide the opportunity for the student to demonstrate all the tenets of good presentation by delivering her own formal presentations to her chemistry student peers in a format that is similar to a professional meeting of chemists.  The faculty will evaluate the presentations as part of the department’s senior comprehensive requirement for graduation.  To fulfill the entire graduation requirement the student must:

  • Attend seminar sessions, fall and spring, including the presentations given by other students.
  • Provide an abstract of your presentation one week before the oral presentation.
  • Provide a poster presentation based on your research or the research of others.
  • Give a 15-minute oral presentation based on your research or the research of others.

Details Regarding the Formal Presentations

I.       Topic

         Your formal presentations must be based on either the experimental research you have performed or work of others as found in the primary and secondary chemistry literature.  Plan to discuss the content of your talk with your Chemistry Department advisor to clarify questions you might have.  The oral presentation may be based on your formal paper.

II.     Audience and Content Level

         The audience for your formal comprehensive presentation is other chemistry students.  The chemistry content should be at a level understandable by a second semester junior chemistry major.  You must include enough chemistry to demonstrate to the faculty that you understand the science in your talk.  Plan to spend at least two-thirds of the time on the technical/chemical content of your presentation.

III.Visual Aids

A.     Poster Presentation

         The purpose of a poster presentation is to quickly communicate recent results of a research project to a general audience.  You are encouraged to talk with your Chemistry Department advisor about formatting and printing your poster.  A poster presentation must contain the following:

  • Title
  • List of contributors and affiliations: indicate all the “main players” in the research project; institutional logos may be included
  • Introduction: introduce the research project or problem and clearly indicate why the research is important
  • Background: explain what is generally known about your research project or problem
  • Results and Discussion: provide the results and their significance. When presenting your poster to viewers, do not present all the results, but instead focus on telling a story.  Use figures and pictures (with captions) to convey information whenever possible.
  • Conclusions: summary of the research performed
  • References
  • Acknowledgements: include funding sources, facilities used, and a mention of those who provided valuable assistance

The graphics of a poster presentation must be large enough to be seen from a distance of four feet away.  You may use graphics to naturally guide a reader through the poster presentation. 

B.     Oral Presentation

         The purpose of an oral presentation, in contrast, is to more thoroughly (and formally) communicate the results of a research project to a select audience.  Use a format and the respective visual aids that best support your presentation.  There are a range of technologies available, however, you are not required to use any particular form of visual aid.  Whatever you decide to use should be readable in the last row of seats in Room 105, the Science Lecture Hall.  Keep your visual aids simple, using pictures, diagrams, equations, etc. to highlight the ideas you are presenting orally.  Include appropriate titles and labels on the images such that each is understandable on its own and make sure that published images (e.g. those from the internet or scientific literature) are appropriately cited.  Use your visual aids as an outline to prompt you through your presentation so that you can speak comfortably about the work without memorizing the text or reading directly from the images.  Include as many images as are needed to clearly present your topic, but do not overcrowd individual images. 

IV.    Post-Presentation Questions

         Be prepared to answer questions following the completion of your presentations.  Note that questions usually do not suggest something was deficient in the presentation.  Indeed, most questions to the speaker suggest that the listener actually heard, and is interested in, what was said.  Expect questions from peers and faculty as a sign of respect for the quality of the work.  As a good presenter, you also should ask questions of others’ presentations.

V.     Faculty Involvement in the Presentations

         Although faculty may be consulted, the majority of the work must be yours alone.  Part of the assessment of your presentations is how well you independently approached, communicated, and completed both your presentations.  You are expected to teach the chemistry of your topic to the audience.

VI.    Notification of Completion of Graduation Requirement

         After your presentations, the seminar chair will poll the faculty to determine whether or not your presentations satisfied the graduation requirement.  You will be notified in a timely fashion.

         If the faculty should decide that some portion of your presentation, either poster or oral presentation, is unsatisfactory, the seminar chair will outline what you must do to correct the deficiency.  Reasons for repeating parts of the presentation have included failure to provide sufficient description of the work done, not enough chemistry content, or failure to demonstrate good understanding of the basic principles of an area of chemistry presented.


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