By Mark Mascetti |Staff Writer|
PowerPoint presentations can both improve or hinder a professor’s teaching effectiveness, depending on how they construct and present the information.
Most teachers use PowerPoints now, but may not be using it as effectively as they hope.
“A majority of the classes I have taken were instructed with PowerPoint,” said student Max Singer. “Although, I have had some teachers use it poorly and could definitely improve the way they used it.”
In my experience, the teachers that use PowerPoint as a brief outline communicate the material in an easier and more effective way.
Material from one chapter may be spread over just a handful of slides, yet provide key names, dates, theories or concepts.
I find it most useful when PowerPoint slides are used in bullet forms and avoid overusing complete sentences.
This allows students to physically read the concepts being discussed, while encouraging students to actively listen to the teacher during the lecture.
If used correctly, professors can use a PowerPoint to help with student interaction and concentration.
“Teachers can improve classroom discussion by adding a few slides that can generate questions while improving students’ attention span,” said Donna Gotch, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies.
However, I have had too many teachers simply add as many terms, concepts and theories as they can and read them off verbatim.
I do not believe this is the most effective way for a teacher to use a PowerPoint presentation.
“PowerPoint should only be used for main points, main ideas, or key terms but not for entire paragraphs or chunks of material,” added Gotch.
When teachers do this, they stop teaching to students and instead turn and teach to the PowerPoint slides.
The teacher’s voice can become monotonous and lack other non-verbal communication behaviors, as they tend to simply read the material, and not interact enough with the students.
If the teacher is dependent on reading word for word out of the PowerPoint slides, he or she may even dim the lights to help with seeing.
At this point, the teacher might as well hand out pillows, because students will inevitably fall asleep between the monotone voice, lack of non-verbal behaviors, and dimmed lights.
“Students get bored if all class, students just look at PowerPoint’s and just put back that information into their notes,” Gotch added.
I have seen this exact scenario in many of the lower division and capstone courses that are required for students to graduate.
Many of these professors even post the PowerPoint slides online, making attendance the only reason students come to class.
“I think faculty can do a better job using PowerPoint more effectively so students can learn,” Gotch concluded.
I believe using PowerPoint in this style is detrimental to learning because a key way students learn is through conversation and discussion, not simply reading.
My hope is that teachers use PowerPoint more effectively.