Posts Tagged ‘Graduate Training’

English for Academic Purposes

As part of the Graduate Training Elements courses I am following at my University is a course called ‘English for Academic Purposes’. I have followed another course previously about ‘Advanced Analytical Techniques‘ about which I have blogged previously. The English course is mainly aimed at non-native speakers of English, although some Irish students are also joining in. Lectures started a number of weeks ago, and I have been finding them really informative (albeit a bit slow-paced some times). I really appreciate the lecturer’s flexibility in setting out the course, whereby she addresses the issues we are dealing with rather than following a set syllabus. The fact that there is no mark associated to the course, is likely a big contributing factor.

As part of the course, some of the students are presenting their work to the other members of the class. The main idea is to get more experience presenting. After the presentation, we ask questions about the project followed by comments about how the presentation went, and how to improve our presentation skills.

Today it was my turn to present. I was a bit worried about making my presentation accessible to everyone present. Although most of the students are in science/engineering/IT, there are a few from the arts and humanities (including the lecturer). As a basis for my presentation I used many slides from my meeting earlier on in the month. However I tried to adapt them to a less technical audience.

Overall, the feedback was quite constructive, as it usually is. I am glad to say that the consensus was that they could understand my project, even the people from other fields. Some of the things I need to improve are related to eye contact. I was told that although I make eye contact, I tend to keep making eye contact with only a few people over and over again, rather than to all the group. I guess that is true, since I tend to make eye contact with either people I know are most critical (generally at the beginning of my presentation) so that I know from their body language what they are thinking, and then if I feel as if they are not showing an interest and I start getting stressed I look for friendly people in the audience. It was also said that I should improve the quality of the equation I inputted (it is an image, so resolution is not that great) and to use the Equation Editor.

Another comment I do not know whether to take as positive or negative. One of the guys commented that I was animated during the presentation. I know I tend to move around and move my hands quite a lot (or alternatively play with my scarf) when presenting, and also tend to go to the screen and point towards things on the screen sometimes. So perhaps I do need to tone down on that. Though other people in the group said that that kept them interested.

Overall, there is room for improvement, but I am happy about the comments I got. I should be giving a similar version of the presentation in the coming months to students from my school as part of the postgraduate presentations that the Biological Research Society are organising. So hopefully it will be an improvement on my presentation today.


Graduate Training

January 23, 2011 1 comment

Last week saw me attending my first module from the Graduate Training programme at DCU: Advance Analytical Techniques. The course consisted of a number of lab sessions where all students get to perform 4 experiments of their choice. Students (mainly in chemistry) from all the Dublin Universities (DCU, UCD, Trinity, NUIM) were participating as part of the Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance. The week was quite hectic, having to perform an 6 hour experiment each day, followed by a lab report to be written.

Overall, I must say the week was quite fruitful. I got back into the lab routine, such that you remember (or are reminded of) all the small nitty gritty things you have forgotten and all the other things you have never heard about. It was also good to meet up with all the people from the various Universities, and find out a bit about what they are doing, and also discuss some differences between the research environment at different locations. In addition, our demonstrator in charge (Dr Blanaid White) was really knowledgeable in all the experiments, and we also got the expertise of other individuals from the School of Chemistry, to give us further information about a number of experiments about which they have lots of experience.

The experiments I performed were about GC-MS, HPLC, Cyclic Voltammetry and Ion Chromatography. From each experiment I learnt a lot, but I was most excited about the HPLC experiment, since I will be working a lot with HPLC during my PhD, and this session helped me understand more about how the different parameters function and the basics about how to develop a method.

The lab reports are now written and I will be submitting everything on Monday. Let us hope I did well, as it would mean that the past week has indeed been fruitful. I wish that DCU has even more graduate training elements from which to choose from, as this has certainly been useful. I will be doing some more in the coming months, and I also hope they will be as fruitful as this.