Slide structure can influence the presenter's understanding of the presentation's content

Joanna K. Garner, Michael P. Alley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Many undergraduate engineering programs use presentations as a means of assessing students' learning and technical communication skills, but the task of identifying slide structures that foster the presenter's thinking about his or her topic has received little attention. In most cases, students create topic-subtopic structure slides that follow the default settings of programs such as Microsoft PowerPoint. Our study explored the premise that the structure of a slide can also influence the presenter's understanding of the content. We asked 120 undergraduate engineering students to create slides that could be used to teach other students how MRI scans work. Roughly half of the participants (n = 59) were tasked with creating assertion-evidence slides. In the other condition, 61 participants created slides using a structure of their choosing. More than 80 percent from this second group created topic-subtopic slides. Within 24 hours, we gave the participants an unannounced post-test of comprehension. Results revealed a statistically significant advantage (p < 0.05) for participants who created assertion-evidence slides. Two takeaways from our study are (1) that the assertion-evidence structure led to a statistically significant increase in the presenter's understanding of the content, and (2) that the instruction needed to teach the assertion-evidence approach to the student presenters was minimal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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