Professor John Walmsley Seminars Organisation and participants' roles Structure and organisation of this paper 1. Aims of the seminar 2. Participants’ aims 3. The place of the seminar in the constellation of learning formats 4. Seminar structure and organisation 5. Seminar roles 1. Aims of the seminar Among the aims of the seminar are: - to disseminate information - to develop reasoning and argumentation skills - to practise oral communication - to develop written communication - to develop team-work - to develop presentation skills 2. Participants’ aims In the course of the seminar, bear the following aims in mind as among your own personal aims for the seminar: - to learn how to learn - to learn to think - to learn how to ask intelligent questions - to learn how and where to acquire information - to learn how to use information properly - to learn to understand major research questions, methods and results - to develop transferable skills, e.g. analytical and problem-solving skills, presentation skills - to practise and improve your time-management 3. The place of the seminar in the constellation of learning formats The seminar constitutes only one form of university leaning, which includes other important components such as lectures, private reading, AGs (Arbeitsgemeinschaften, - working groups), workshops etc. These forms differ in purpose and format. LECTURE READING SEMINAR AG WORKSHOP unsupervised unsupervised supervised, formal or supervised guided learning informal unsupervised working-group summarizes main offers important encourages self-organised envisages new information information students to think product as end result and / or all participants all participants contribute contribute all participants offers new, offers research contribute unpublished results encourages encourages research results students to students to encourages in the form of engage in engage in students to library discourse discourse engage in discourse electronic media develops planning skills develops planning skills 4. Seminar roles There are basically three seminar roles: participant, presenter and mentor (usually a member of staff). Most, if not all, students will (should!) find themselves in a double role – of participant and presenter in the same semester. For your examinations, the role of participant is as significant as that of presenter: in oral examinations you will be expected to be able to communicate fluently and freely, to argue, and to respond to arguments. It will NOT be sufficient simply to know your topic well. You will be expected to have read round it, and be able to place it convincingly in its wider scientific and historical context. 4.1 Participant As a participant you need to: - prepare properly for the meeting by reading at least one piece of literature an the topic - come with an open mind - listen carefully - learn to identify major issues - learn to distinguish different positions, and who is associated with them Your own contribution to the seminar will be: - to think carefully about what you have read and heard - to bring in any unanswered questions you may have - to look out for incompatible or conflicting views - to offer supplementary evidence, observations etc. Take the opportunity to practise: - summarizing information concisely and clearly, both for yourself and others - putting your own point of view and justifying it - asking questions to ensure understanding - participating in a discussion according to the rules of discourse 4.2 Presenter It is the presenter’s job: 1) to research the topic as discussed with the mentor (using materials from other courses, reading, electronic media resources etc.) 2) to get the main ideas across to the participants 3) to present the main issues clearly, with the arguments and evidence for and against 4) specify the sources you used and also, therefore: - to prepare handouts/media which may be required (in good time) - to clarify the task - to clarify the purpose, place and extent of your own contribution (including limits) as well as: - to think about the foundations for your own position - to introduce carefully any new terms that appear in the presentation but which cannot be known by the participants 4.3 The Mentor The mentor’s main tasks are: - to offer an introductory statement which will: - raise questions in the minds of the participants, to which they may expect answers - conceivably, offer a praecognita - to encourage the students to think - to stimulate the students to ask intelligent questions - to help clarify issues - to bring all the participants into the discussion - to ensure that all points of view are heard - to give a final summary The final summary may include a consideration of: - What phenomena have been explained? (= description) - What were the limits of the area under discussion? - What are/were the central issues? - What are/were the major positions on these issues? - Which researchers are associated with which positions? - Which are the major publications in the area? plus an evaluative comment on the quality of the presentation. The mentor may not (necessarily) see it as his or her job - to determine who speaks when - to adjudicate - to provide “correct” answers 5. Seminar structure and organisation This seminar is characterized by the principles of rotation (i.e. different presenters, meeting- by-meeting) and presentation-by-pairs. The procedure is as follows: 1. Assignments will be agreed in the seminar during the first two weeks of the Semester The assignment may be: - an essay - a problem or a set of problems to solve - an area of research to summarize and report on 2. Presenters produce a written version of their presentation in advance (about 4,000 – 4,500 words in length - i.e. about 15 to 128 hand-written A4 pages). This will allow the mentor to check your English. 3. Presenters prepare transparencies for the OP and/or handouts for the participants. The handout may or should include: - a delimitation of the area - a description of the “instrumentarium,” where necessary (including e.g. definitions) - coverage of the main issues - the main outlines of the arguments - References (i.e. all the literature referred to in the presentation, but only that); 4. Presenters make their presentation orally in the seminar 5. Questions requesting clarification 6. Discussions of the issues raised 7. Closing comments by the mentor, including: - summary of the main points - connection with the wider topic of the seminar - suggestions as to ways in which the topic could develop - evaluative comment on the presentation 8. In case of illness: Presenter: let both your mentor and your partner know as soon as possible. Mentor: in the event of the mentor being unable to attend, there is no real reason why the seminar should not take place successfully. In this case, ensure that one of the participants takes minutes which can be circulated to all participants at a later meeting. later meeting.