Apprenticeship in Teaching

Constructing Criticism

Karen E. Breiner-Sanders, Ph.D.

In her course on Spanish language cinema, Professor Breiner-Sanders wanted to find new and creative ways to engage her students in film analysis and criticism. Based on her goals to sharpen students' critical analysis and oral presentation skills, CNDLS introduced her to the Poster Tool, which was an online application designed for users to easily create online web presentations.

In the Poster Tool, Breiner-Sanders found a mechanism in which students could both prepare for presentations and articulate interpretative ideas about film. Creating electronic posters enabled students to approach presentations from multiple perspectives, thereby giving them a space where they could "play" with ideas, arguments, and interpretations. This process gave the students a greater sense of ownership over their interpretative skills as evidenced in their later written work and final presentations.

Since this was one of the first instances Poster Tool was used in the classroom, Breiner-Sanders and CNDLS designed a mid-semester survey to gather feedback from students about the process and to define criteria by which they should be evaluated on their poster projects. Students provided constructive answers based on content, style, speech, and design, which supplied the basis for the assessment criteria of the final presentations. By involving students in the assessment process from the beginning, the class demonstrated a better understanding of expectations for their final projects. In addition, final evaluations revealed that students found Poster Tool to be one of the highlights of the course.