These seminar sessions are probably different to most of the presentations you will have to do for your university degree in that you have fewer constraints on the content that you need to provide. The only limits that you will have relate to time, ie the sessions need to be 50 minutes in length; Location, in that the session has to be in the timetabled seminar room and that you have to use the linked practitioner lecture as your overall organising theme. Apart from these constraints, you are encouraged to be creative.
There are some issues that you might want to consider however:
- You are running a seminar. This means that you would expect to encourage participation from the whole class group, rather than doing a 50 minute presentation to them. Ideally you want to interact with the class rather than talking at them. It is much better in a seminar to create some interesting themes or questions and then get the class to do the work!
- If you are going to do a presentation, keep it short and then set the class some tasks to do. Picking up some of the themes from the lecture and discussing them can work really well, but we would advise against simply doing a presentation that mirrors what the practitioner said. It is much better to do a short précis of the issues raised and then encourage the class to develop or question those issues.
- It is really good if you can think about the way in which the practitioner talked about particular issues, and whether you can identify criminological theories or knowledge that either underpins or potentially challenges what they say. Think particularly about how some of the issues raised in other modules such as Applying Criminology (Criminological Theory), and Criminal Justice might inform your debate, or questions.
- Using media as a debating device can also work really well, but we would advise against using lengthy media presentations (above 10 minutes). Small YouTube clips have been really effective in the past, followed by some organising questions. The different organisations that the practitioners work for often have interesting media presentations that you can use to promote discussions. Having said this, if you wanted to produce your own video podcast for the seminar, this would be encouraged; in fact we have ‘flip’ cameras that you can borrow if you see yourself as a budding film maker or actor!
- Sometimes a quiz can work well, or even some sort of competition between groups. Getting groups of students to argue from opposing positions, to create a debate can sometimes work quite well, but it is always important to make sure that the groups are clear as to what you want them to do.
- Don’t be frightened to put your student colleagues on the spot. You should expect them to come to the sessions ready to actively interact with you, and not expect to be a passive audience whilst you do all of the work. Most of the staff on the module are also usually happy to join in with the class taking on a student role.
- Time management in a seminar is sometimes quite tricky, as we do need to finish the session at 10 minutes to the hour to let the next group move into the room. Putting the students into groups to do a task at some point in the session can be quite useful, as this is flexible in terms of timescale. This means that if you have lots of time left, you can give the groups a bit longer to discuss their task before coming back together to share their findings. Equally you can shorten the timescale of these discussions, if you are running out of time.
- It is also important that you respect the views and contributions of your colleagues, both when you lead the seminars as a ‘teacher’ and when you are participating as a student. Discriminatory language or belittling behaviour towards others in the class will not be tolerated, and there will be an expectation that everyone will attend and be prepared to contribute. The electronic protocol will also apply.
- As you are aware, attendance is compulsory throughout the module and forms part of your assessment mark. In respect of this you should consider that it is really disappointing for students who have worked really hard to create materials for the seminar, if only half the class turn up.
Here are some comments from previous students about leading the seminars:
It really helped my confidence by talking in front of class and prepared me for our conference;
Student led seminars were a great idea much better than normal seminars;
Student seminars were brilliant;
Class interaction and team building; Thought the student led seminars were very useful;
Allowed us to see how the tutors felt!