NATURAL SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS SEMINAR - FALL, 2000; SPRING 2001
  SCI 493 - presentation
 SCI 491,492 - attendance
Link to Schedule, Spring, 2001
Link to Schedule,Fall, 2000
Link to Evaluation form
D. Collins, Box 6017, convener, (e-mail: dcollins@warren-wilson.edu)

Purpose:

This seminar provides students and staff with opportunities to interact professionally in a formal setting, exchange news, ideas and theories, and explore the interrelationships among various disciplines.  Students are further given the opportunity and motivation to participate in scientific research: choosing and delimiting a suitable topic, defining the problem and forming a hypothesis where appropriate, discovering and evaluating the work of others, conducting their own investigation, evaluating the data and results, and organizing and communicating their results to others.  Discussion, questions and argument will sharpen communication and logic skills, as well as increase understanding, both for those presenting seminars as well as those attending.
 

Organization:

Presentation of a seminar is a graduation requirement in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.  Each person presenting the seminar for the graduation requirement must be registered for the course.  Each student must meet with their advisor to select a topic, preferably during the Junior year.  It is also required that all juniors enroll in the parallel course - Research Design.    Time slots will be assigned during the junior year.  On October 26, 2000 a drawing will be made from those with junior status (at least 60 hours completed) for the seminar presentations in the 2001-2002 academic year.  In addition to getting a time slot, each student must register for presentation (SCI 493) during November or April registration..  In order to register for the presentation (493), you must present a signed note from your sponsor indicating willingness to sponsor and cosponsor (if applicable) your talk along with your title.  The advisor will usually be a member of the WWC science faculty (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Mathematics/Computer Science, or Physics).  If a student wishes to work with a faculty outside a department listed above, a science faculty must be obtained to be a co-sponsor and must co-sign the student's title at registration time. The sponsors have the responsibility of helping the student choose an appropriate topic, guiding the student's research and suggesting questions and interpretations about the results, and listening to the practice sessions of the presentation.  It is nearly impossible to make a good presentation without at least a week of practice presentations before the advisor.

Suitable topics should be sufficiently specific to allow in-depth study, but general enough to avoid becoming so technical that the audience cannot appreciate the study.  The topic should involve original work, field study, interpretation of archival data banks, or laboratory study by the student, in addition to the necessary literature study.  In the seminar, the student will need to develop the necessary background and context of his or her study to relate the material to concepts presented in introductory courses.  The problem to be investigated or the hypothesis to be tested must be clearly stated.  The seminar should then present the original data in clear form, and finally summarize and highlight significance of the study relative to the pertinent literature.

Each seminar will need a printed abstract.  The abstract should contain the title of the presentation, the studentís name, the sponsorís name, and a concise paragraph describing the experiment and the results of the work.  An alphabetized bibliography should be attached to the abstract, and they should be replicated, collated and distributed at the beginning of the scheduled seminar (40 copies).  Both sides of a single page should be used for the abstract and bibliography. Each presenter must submit the abstract via e-mail (or attachment file in Microsoft Word 95 for Windows) to the coordinator within one week after presenting the seminar.  The abstracts will be published on the World Wide Web along with the schedule.  Faculty will often suggest improvements to the abstract, hence the one week "grace" period.

The advisor will introduce the seminar speaker and provide appropriate background.  Seminar presentations should be succinct - no longer than 20 minutes with appropriate use of slides, charts, and visuals.  10 minutes should be allowed for questions.  Students often underestimate the amount of time that questions, so a prsentation planned for 15 minutes is appropriate.    The presenter should include an outline as one of the visuals

Evaluation:

For grading purposes, presenters (493) will be assigned a letter grade, while those registered for 491 or 492   (no presentation) will be assigned pass/fail.  The pass/fail will be based on attendance.  The attendance will be recorded by means of each student filling-out a peer-support evaluation of the seminar which will be collected and returned to the presenter.  All students, including those students who are presenting seminars, are expected to attend all seminar days (this means no more than 2 absences).  A student may make up absences by attending and reporting on a live off-campus presentation (ACS, Sigma Xi, Workshops, etc.).  More than 2 absences will result in failure, even for those students who presented regardless of the quality of the presentation.  All faculty attending the talk will fill out evaluation forms, and the convener will collect these and keep them for examination by the student in private.  Extended illness may require a repeat semester to make-up.

The student's research advisor's grade, averaged with the median grade of the remaining faculty evaluations, will be recorded.  There often is considerable variation among the faculty on the evaluation results.  The median is much less sensitive to the extremes, yet the student's advisor is often much more aware of the student's overall understanding.
 

Expectations for attendees:

In order to obtain a grade of Pass, students are expected to arrive promptly, fill-out a student evaluation form, fill the seats nearest the front first, be respectfully attentive, remain until the seminar is completed, and participate in the question and answer period.  Leaving the seminar early (before 5:00) will result in an absence recorded  Missing more than two seminars will result in a failing grade, even for those who give seminars (see above).  More than one absence at mid-semester will receive a failing grade at mid-semester.  Failing at mid-semester may be made up by satisfactorily completing all the requirements before the end of the semester.  Students are expected to keep track of their own absences.  The convenor will not send reminders if students have accumulated absences.  The convenor will let students see their record of attendance at any time, however.

Expectations for presenters:

Essentially, we are looking for a scholarly talk.  Both content and presentation style are important.  Without content of appropriate depth and substance, even the best speaking style and finest visuals will not be enough to earn a good grade.  Please see the attached evaluation form.

It is expected that the presenter practice the presentation with the sponsor(s).  The main reason for this is to instill confidence, be able to anticipate questions from the audience, and to insure a scientific understanding.

Changing presentation date: NO!

On account of excessive date changing in previous years, the scheduled dates are now "cast in stone".  Any rescheduling requests must be made in writing to the division at least two weeks prior to the scheduled time, and the division faculty will consider the extenuating circumstances and decide among three possibilities: 1) the extenuating circumstances justify rescheduling without penalty; 2) the rescheduling will be permitted with a letter-grade penalty; 3) the rescheduling will be denied.  Experimental problems, generally, should not warrant a new date.  There should still be enough background for the experiments to present a viable seminar plus explaining problems encountered.

Changing title: NO!

The seminar schedule and titles are published and distributed to a number of places at the beginning of the semester.  It therefore becomes impossible to re-publish the titles to the distribution list.  Titles should be finalized by Monday, Sep 4, 2000.
 

Major change for Fall 2001.

The name of SCI 493, "Natural Science and Mathematics Seminar Presentation - 0.5 cr" is changed to SCI 493, "Natural Science and Mathematics Research Communication - 1 Cr".  The credit is increased from 0.5 to 1.0 credit.  In addition to the oral presentation, all students will be expected to submit a finalized research paper to his/her mentor by the end of week 14.  The mentor's grade on the formal paper will determine 50% of the Research Communication grade - the oral presentation determines the other 50% of the Communication grade.  The expectations for the formal paper include:
  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction - the background of the material, survey of literature, and description of the experiment/phenomena
  3. Materials and Methods - the details of the experiment, the methodology of gathering the data, the problems encountered and how they were solved
  4. Results
  5. Discussion - not only should the results be described, but any valid conclusions that are inferred, or cannot be inferred from the results as well as explanations for unexpected results.
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Literature Cited.  All the sources should be referenced in the paper.
Two copies of the final paper will be submitted: one for the research mentor and one for archiving.  It is expected that the bulk of the research paper will have been completed as part of the requirements for the "Natural Science Seminar Research" requires a written report.  The finalized paper for the "Communication" course will contain the completed study and address problems that may not have been solved in the Research course.

Link to Schedule, Spring, 2001

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