Posters can be used to address a variety of learning and teaching objectives including the development of motivation, content knowledge and generic and professional skills. A poster is a formal and creative way to present information. Good posters should have a clear message, be eye-catching, but with a "professional" feel, have a mix of text and graphics. 1-4 Posters can be used at all levels ranging from first year introductory chemistry to final year research projects. The posters can be prepared by individuals, or small teams, with (or without) a short (5-10 min) oral presentation. Some examples of how they can be used are provided below.
Chemistry is a foundation subject required by many science courses. Many university offer introductory first year chemistry for students from a variety of courses and backgrounds who have not studied chemistry beyond year 10 in high school. These students often do not appreciate the relevance chemistry has to their degree. In order to put chemistry into context for these students researched information about chemistry topics relevant to their degree and produced "conference style" posters. A list of topics appropriate of each cohort was developed and each team chose one topic (no topic was repeated within a class). This activity not only puts the chemistry they will learn into context, it provides the students with an understanding of the role chemistry plays in their future career.
Laboratory work is usually recorded/reported via laboratory journals or reports. However, key techniques and processes which students have employed during a laboratory program are seldom investigated or reported on. Students can use posters provide summaries of a key laboratory technique, discuss the theory behind the technique and possible industrial applications. If each technique is investigated by a small number of groups and the poster is accompanied by short oral presentations, then the class will gain a better insight into each technique. The students will preparing and presenting the poster will develop communication skills and investigative/research skills.
Peer assessment of posters can also be used as a teaching tool. By using a well developed assessment tool, the students need to critically evaluate each poster and in the process learn about the content of the poster. To ensure that the posters are appropriately evaluated the peer assessor teams should be required to provide a justification for each criteria.
Original author: Mauro Mocerino