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Using Powerpoint to Build Understanding

The use of layering and animation can enhance student comprehension of complex subjects (Lowry 1999). At its simplest, this could mean revealing items in a bulleted list one at a time. At a more advanced level, it could mean the gradual building up of a complex image or annotated graphic. Figure 1a shows a scanning electron microscope (SEM) photograph of textural properties in a sandstone. Alone, even with verbal explanation, this might seem complex to students with little or no experience of viewing objects at a micro scale. Figures 1b to 1d show a sequence of annotations progressively added to the image as the features of interest are highlighted and explained. In this way, students are guided through the key features one step at a time and there is no risk of them being overwhelmed by either the amount of information in a single image, or its complexity. They may also experience a sense of self-satisfaction in having been able to comprehend some relatively complex information. Students may be engaged by this teaching method because of a sense of curiosity about the information yet to be revealed.

powerpoint slides with progressive annotation
powerpoint slides with progressive annotation

 

Dawn Nicholson, Senior Learning and Teaching Fellow, Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Reference: Lowry, R. B. 1999. Electronic presentation of lectures - effect upon student performance. University Chemistry Education 3 (1), 18-21.

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