Poster session

Subject: Linguistics. Study level: BA and MA. Class size: 10-25.

Motivation for the activity

The production of a graphical poster demands that the students get to the core of their exam topic. The pictures and figures make the dialogue between the students flow as they represent a concrete starting point for the discussion and something to point at.  

Central learning outcomes for the activity

Poster sessions can be used in all courses that end with a written exam with a topic of the student’s own choice.

The activity makes the students contemplate their topics and thesis statement early in the semester, as well as it forces them to make a plan of their work process. 

Description of the activity

The students are told to bring a preliminary idea or thesis statement for their exam paper to the poster session class.

The lecturer starts out with a short presentation about how to make a poster and how to use it at a conference. It is a good idea to bring a couple of posters, maybe from research colleagues, to show to the students. The activity then falls in three parts:

  • The students are asked to make a poster on their preliminary idea and thesis statement. The poster should contain reflections on topic, method and problem statement. Coloured paper, scissors, glue and pens are made available by the lecturer. The posters can also be made in Powerpoint and saved as pdfs. The posters should be informative, interesting and provide an overview of the whole exam process.
  • When the posters are done (and printed) they are hung on the walls of the classroom. The group is divided into two: Group 1 starts out standing by their posters, while the students in Group 2 take a round and ask questions about the posters. The talk is informal but it is important that it is also critical and constructive. When Group 2 has been all the way around the two groups switch place. Group 2 now stands by the posters while Group 1 mingles and learns about the projects.  
  • The closure of the activity is for the students to go into groups with others that are considering the same topic, method or way of collecting data. The students in these new groups then talk about their concrete ideas for papers and make arrangements about how to help each other during the writing process.

Another possibility is to invite guests from another group or study level to the poster session. This can both strengthen the concrete feedback, but also the relationship between students at different study levels. 

Outcome of the activity

The students get started with their exam papers early on and get feedback on their ideas from other students.

The students learn about each other’s topics, which means that they can collaborate for example by sharing useful literature during the exam period. 

Reflections on the activity

The poster session needs to take place at that point in the semester where the students have just started the preliminary work with their exam papers. If the activity is held too early the students will not yet have anything to say on a poster and if it is held too late the whole exercise becomes redundant. 

Ethan Weed

Associate professor

Poster examples

Click on the images to see them in a larger version.