Back at MAH (Malmö University), my assessments in two years of university have been divided in essays, sit-in exams, and presentations. Sometimes a portfolio makes an appearance but this has been pretty much it. I’m sure this can be very different depending what people are studying, but I will try and only talk about my experience. At Newcastle, things revolve around the same things: a presentation here, an essay there. However, there are certain differences in how this is executed.
You know…same, but different.
Yesterday I did my first (and last) presentation at my adoptive university. It was the first time I felt extremely confident about presenting. I’m not the type of person who takes assessments lightly. I don’t have the que sera, sera attitude. As a matter of fact, I get really nervous days before, thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could happen. This paranoia, although annoying to the people around me, helps me in a way. Having all this extremely bad scenarios in my mind, reality never proves to be as bad as I paint it in mind. I always do extensive research, much more than I would need to serve the purpose of a ten minutes PowerPoint presentation, so no question can ever take me by surprise. And they never really do. I’m always super early at school just in case the planets align that day and clog the traffic. And I’m never late. Things like that. But for this presentation I was there only ten minutes early, had a nice chat with the teacher before, started my slides, went through them very naturally, even affording myself the luxury to crack a joke or two on the subject of my presentation. And it went well. So how come? Why did I feel so confident about it? I think it has to do with what happened a day before. The teacher encourages us to come see him in his office and go through our presentation, tell him what we want to do, ask for advice, etc. I did that and I felt extremely confident knowing that I’m not blindly jumping in something like a twenty minutes presentation without knowing if I’m really on the right track. Of course after doing so many presentations back home I knew I was on the right track, but reassurance works wonders. Also, something interesting about the whole thing was the fact that it was an individual presentation (YES!) and not mandatory. Now, this is the different part. In this course, we could do a twenty minutes presentation only if we wanted. If we did it, it would count as 30% of the grade and we would have to write a 3000 words essay as part of the last 70% (due late January). If we decided we don’t want to do the presentation, we would have to write a 4000 words essay that would count as 100% of the grade. It’s debatable which would be the “best deal” but I can tell you that an hour seminar is much livelier with a presentation.
Another interesting type of assessment that I will go through in December is a so-called individual presentation that is really nothing like it sounds. It is in fact a debate, done within a pre-established group, but graded individually. The teacher gives us three topics. We choose one and end up in a group with the other people in our seminar who also chose that topic. So we have the group. That group can meet as many times as it wants, or be spontaneous (and insane) and just go to the debate the day of the assessment. There, we have twenty minutes to talk about the subject. This can be as staged as we want it to be. We can have meetings before and script it, knowing who speaks when and what, so we don’t create chaos and talk over each other. If we want to talk more than twenty minutes we can have friends in the audience asking the questions we couldn’t fit in our time. Even though this is a group debate, it is graded individually. Even if you don’t say a thing at the debate, the teacher assigns 3 minutes for every students to say his/her own conclusions on the matter at the end so everyone gets to talk. The grade is all about the quality of what you say rather than the quantity. To me it sounds a bit chaotic at the moment, but I’m sure things will clearer with time. Next seminar we will do a mock debate and see how things will go.
The essays are the same everywhere, except the style of the house is Harvard, not MLA. It seems to be much more official though. To submit an essay I need to submit it online and as a physical copy that needs to be stamped by the department secretary before I can drop it in the teacher’s pigeon box. I also get a receipt as proof that I submitted my work.
So far my courses are going really well, I am very pleased with my decisions. Next assessment is on the 7th November, a case study for the (amazing) Advertisement course. So I guess I should go back to my research now…
Have a nice weekend everyone!