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  Home > Graduate Programs and Degrees Offered > Veterinary Medicine Graduate Program > Courses > VMED 5190

VMED 5190

VMED  5190 
Seminar and Presentation Development for Graduate Students

Instructor Information 

Coordinator:       Sandra Godden, DVM, DVSc
Office Location:   A320 VMC                                        
Office hours:       8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (by appointment)
Email address:

Other Instructors:
Dr. Carroll Vance, Agronomy / Plant Genetics                   
Dr. Liz Pluhar, Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Andre Nault, Health Sciences Libraries                     


Number of credits: 2 credits
Enrollment cap:     20 
Semester, day and time of course:  Fall Semester.  Monday, 3:00 to 5:00 PM.
Room number: 215 Vet Science Building

Part I – Instructional Component: The course will meet once per week for a two hour period.   

Part II – Seminar Component: The course will meet once per week for a 60 minute period. 

Course prerequisites:  CVM Graduate Student. 

Description of the Course
Part I - Instructional Component
The formal instructional component of the course will take place early in the Fall semester and will consist of 6 sessions, each approximately 2 hours in duration. The first session will present students with the background science and instruction on how to plan, organize, structure and deliver a scientific presentation.  It will also address some of the main concerns and pitfalls in making a presentation, such as structure/content, and speaking style.   

The second session will address the use and misuse audiovisual materials, and will include a “PowerPoint” lab to get you started on using the technology - most presentations these days make use of computer methods and you ought to be aware of the options. 

In the third session we will spend some time addressing the issue of using PowerPoint to make award-winning posters, and a lot more time discussing graphic techniques in the presentation of data.  For the second half of this session you will have an opportunity to formally evaluate a scientific presentation delivered by a guest speaker.  Evaluations will be completed individually and then presented in small groups.   

The fourth and fifth sessions will be for the presentation of taped mini seminars. Each of you will make a presentation, four minutes in length, that will be videotaped for immediate replay after you have had a chance to comment on how you did. The presentation must have goals, structure, and a message, the intent of which must be clearly stated at the beginning, and the message must be clearly and effectively conveyed to the audience in the allotted time. After replaying the presentation there will be brief, friendly and constructive discussion of how effectively you achieved your objective, and of what worked and what did not. The topic chosen must have a start and an end, and must have sufficient structure for the speaker to have points to make, a message to convey, and some challenge in getting the points across, but the topic is otherwise wide open - you can talk on any subject you like (in good taste, of course)!  Emphasis will be on projection, presence, audibility, clarity of content, clarity of speech, style, and structure. More specific attention to presentation of scientific information will be an objective of the main seminar (Section II of course). Mini seminars are intended to be practice sessions during which you will have a chance to help each other identify strengths and weaknesses - be kind to each other! 

The last session will provide instruction on using the internet to complete comprehensive searches of the literature, for the purpose of researching papers or presentations.  It will also address the use of a reference management package (RefWorks) to build and maintain an online information/citation database.  This technology can save you a huge amount of time and grief!

Part II - Seminar Component
Activities during this section of the course will take place in one 60-minute session per week and will include further opportunities to practice developing and delivering scientific presentations.  It is expected that students will present two formal seminars during this section of the course.  Faculty advisors and other college faculty and staff will be invited to these presentations.

Your seminars will be 15-20 minutes in length with 5 minutes for questions and answers (25 minutes MAXIMUM).  Two students will present at each session. Your presentation must be related to some aspect of your research so that those attending the seminars know what you're working on, but it should not be a comprehensive review of your research;…this will come later at your defense!  For new students, content could include some aspect of your field of research or research proposal, unless some other topic is previously selected and approved by coordinating faculty.  Speakers and their topics will be formally introduced, each of you by one of your colleagues - course participants will chair and to moderate all sessions. Presentations will be evaluated according to the evaluation form attached. Each person attending the seminar (graduate students, faculty and guests) will be asked to fill in and sign this form.

After seminars are presented by course participants and after the general audience has departed, the moderator will lead a discussion of the presentation/s (supervised by faculty), using the assessment sheet as a guide.  Each course participant will be asked to describe one aspect of the presentation they would adopt and one that they would avoid.  

Graduate student seminars may be interspersed with seminars by faculty and visiting speakers if time allows during the remainder of the semester.   

Since watching other speakers' presentation styles and offering constructive criticism to colleagues is part of the course, it is expected that all of you will attempt to attend every seminar in the series. In the interests of ensuring that you all derive maximum benefit from the course, but acknowledging that there will inevitably be circumstances on occasion that preclude your attending, we use a sign-up sheet for all graduates registered for the course. An 80% overall attendance is required.

Course Goal
The goal of this course is to assist graduate students in developing skills needed to research, organize, develop and deliver an oral scientific presentation, and to assist them in finding, compiling and organizing information to be used for preparing presentations, theses or papers suitable for publication.  

Course Objectives

  1. Develop skills in researching, organizing, and developing scientific presentations. 
  2. Improve formal presentation skills as well as skills in leading informal discussions.
  3. Improve critical thinking skills and ability to critically evaluate scientific presentations.
  4. Access and utilize information sources on the internet.
  5. Compile, synthesize and prepare data in a format suitable for presentation.
  6. Increase level of understanding of current topics, issues or scientific methodologies specific to the student’s area of study.

Course Expectations:
Part I – Instructional Component

  1. Students are expected to attend at least 80% of all meetings of the course.
  2. Students are expected to work independently, with direction from faculty as needed, to plan, develop, and deliver a short scientific presentation.

Part II – Seminar Presentation with Division Groups

  1. Students are expected to attend at least 80% of all meetings of the course.
  2. Students are be expected to work independently, with direction from faculty as needed, to plan, develop, and deliver two scientific presentations during the fall semester period.
  3. Students are expected to serve at least once as moderator when fellow students are presenting, and will be expected to present written and oral evaluations of peers’ performance in delivering a scientific presentation.

Required and recommended materials and the location of the materials

There are no assigned materials for this course.  Students will use the library, internet, and other reference materials provided by the faculty. 

Schedule of assignments, papers, projects, etc:
Choice and schedule of assigned presentations and paper reviews will be made in consultation with the faculty. 

No exams are given during the course. Situations specific to rescheduling the course must be discussed with the course instructor.  Students will be evaluated and will receive feedback from faculty during both Sections I and II of this course.  

Students will be evaluated based on:

  1. Standardized seminar evaluation forms completed by faculty and student peers.  In addition to receiving a grade, faculty will complete a one-on-one review of the evaluations with the student to discuss strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Participation in group discussions.
  3. Participation as a moderator and participation in formal evaluation of student peers’ presentations.
  4. Attendance.  An 80% overall attendance is required.  

Grading standards
The S-N grading policy will apply to this course:  

Statement on academic misconduct

Students guilty of academic misconduct will receive a grade of N for the course.

Senate student academic workload policies  

Classroom expectation guidelines                                                         



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