As most scientists, even today, I learned to prepare and present conferences on the job, without any specific training. Turning to ergonomics after an education in visual neurophysiology and an involvement in educational technology, I specialised in the ergonomics of information acquisition. This made me a target for demands by graduate students (in biology and later on in ergonomics) requiring assistance and training in conference presentations.

Science students are frequently characterised by their inexperience in public speech, a limited practice of scientific writing, which requires much graphic material, from cartesian graphs to diagrams and photographs. Most of the educational material available in the 80s and the 90s dealt exclusively with science writing and illustration for the print. Two tasks therefore emerged to document the specificity of scientific oral presentation and its visual aids, to develop an education and training which allowed students to become familiar with the fundamentals of communication as well as prepare and offer an efficient conference.

The developing knowledge on multimedia design, the ergonomic and psychological foundations of legibility and readability as applied to graphic material, readings in visual semiotics as well as on foundations of communication, combined with the results of ergonomic observation and analysis of speakers' performances together offered the basic course material, which finally led to the publication of a monograph (La communication en congrès. Repères ergonomiques. Québec, Presses de l'Université du Québec 2005, ISBN 2‐7605‐1338‐6).

A course was developed at UQAM which offered 9 hours of theoretical information followed with the twice repeated rehearsal of a 15 minute presentation by each student, with feedback from the group (of 10‐15 students) and the professor before the student finally presented his paper in front of the Department and eventually in congresses. Other workshops and conferences have been offered on the topic, in Québec as in France.

Such a program is difficult to evaluate in a quantitative fashion without resorting to a complex procedure we have used in other circumstances. Satisfaction is high amongst students, and at UQAM the course has been mandatory for 30 years. Professors are happy to underline that an important number of graduates were gratified with distinctions for best papers in many congresses.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Training future scientists for conference presentations

Luc Desnoyers   Université du Québec à Montréal

As most scientists, even today, I learned to prepare and present conferences on the job, without any specific training. Turning to ergonomics after an education in visual neurophysiology and an involvement in educational technology, I specialised in the ergonomics of information acquisition. This made me a target for demands by graduate students (in biology and later on in ergonomics) requiring assistance and training in conference presentations.

Science students are frequently characterised by their inexperience in public speech, a limited practice of scientific writing, which requires much graphic material, from cartesian graphs to diagrams and photographs. Most of the educational material available in the 80s and the 90s dealt exclusively with science writing and illustration for the print. Two tasks therefore emerged to document the specificity of scientific oral presentation and its visual aids, to develop an education and training which allowed students to become familiar with the fundamentals of communication as well as prepare and offer an efficient conference.

The developing knowledge on multimedia design, the ergonomic and psychological foundations of legibility and readability as applied to graphic material, readings in visual semiotics as well as on foundations of communication, combined with the results of ergonomic observation and analysis of speakers' performances together offered the basic course material, which finally led to the publication of a monograph (La communication en congrès. Repères ergonomiques. Québec, Presses de l'Université du Québec 2005, ISBN 2‐7605‐1338‐6).

A course was developed at UQAM which offered 9 hours of theoretical information followed with the twice repeated rehearsal of a 15 minute presentation by each student, with feedback from the group (of 10‐15 students) and the professor before the student finally presented his paper in front of the Department and eventually in congresses. Other workshops and conferences have been offered on the topic, in Québec as in France.

Such a program is difficult to evaluate in a quantitative fashion without resorting to a complex procedure we have used in other circumstances. Satisfaction is high amongst students, and at UQAM the course has been mandatory for 30 years. Professors are happy to underline that an important number of graduates were gratified with distinctions for best papers in many congresses.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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