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Vignette U2

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A student raising their hand in the class
Photo by Marcos Luiz on Unsplash

Vignette U2. Xiaoxiao’s Story: What can I do to ensure that the classmates who are listening to students’ group presentations really get involved into the activity and do understand the link to the course material? 

Xiaoxiao is a Psychology lecturer. In her course, the students work in groups and choose a paper relevant to the course content, with the aim of preparing and presenting a synthesis of the paper consisting of aim, methodology, results and discussion. In her experience, the students learn a lot from synthesizing their paper, but appear passive and rather “bored” during their classmates’ presentations.

Reflecting on her experiences, Xiaoxiao says:

The main problem is how to involve the classmates in the core questions of the presentation – why the research is important, why that specific methodology was used in the paper – and how to relate the papers to the main content of the course.


Xiaoxiao presents her observation as a case in an Intercultural Reflecting Team (iRT) session, organised as part of the IntRef project. The nine peers involved in this method discuss Xiaoxiao’s case in a iRT session facilitated by video-conferencing. Xiaoxiaoe acts as a ‘provider’ of the case and so learns from observing others discussing her problem. 

What did her peers suggest?

Norma, an English study lecturer, says:

The listeners of the presentations should be more involved. As the teacher of this course, you could of course be the one who asks question that activate the listeners. But in my opinion, you can also ask the students who prepare the presentation to prepare specific questions for their audience.


Jeremy, who teaches political sciences classes, suggests: 

Maybe the presentations are perceived as some kind of boring because the audience is not sure if the content has been summarized correctly. Maybe you could ask the presenting students to send their presentation to you some days in advance and so you could check if the content is correct. Hereby, you would be somehow ‘approving’ the presentations, so that they all know, that the presented content is correct and there are no big mistakes in the group works.


Xiaoxiao‘s Reflections

Reflecting on her peers’ comments, Xiaoxiao responded:

I like the idea of activating the audience. It seems to be an easy way to activate the students by asking questions that have to be answered during or just after the presentation. It allows also to link the presented papers more to the course topic and course material. I will definitely think of other possibilities of enhancing the activity level during the presentations. Maybe, the class could also be instructed to think of possible applications of the presented studies.