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Studierende auf der Lernfläche des Instituts für Informatik, Foto: Universität Paderborn, Fotografin: Judith Kraft
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Studierende auf der Lernfläche des Instituts für Informatik, Foto: Universität Paderborn, Fotografin: Judith Kraft

Seminars

Definition

In seminars, students work independently on an individual research topic by using background literature from various sources. They describe their research topic in a presentation followed by discussion and a written report. The presentation material and the written report serve two different purposes: Whereas the presentation material supports the lectures (held within a specific time period), the written report provides students the opportunity to acquire detailed information on the reported topic at a later date.

Goals

In seminars, students learn the techniques for independent research work on non-trivial topics and how to present these topics in a presentation and in written form. The seminar participants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with a research-oriented subfield of computer science. They learn how to plan a presentation and hold it within the determined time frame (usually 45 to 60 minutes), and to prioritize the contents of the presentation. The participants experience how an audience obtains knowledge from a presentation, and how to exchange opinions and information in discussions.Seminars also teach "soft skills", such as rhetorical skills for presentations and discussions. Participating students learn how to structure a presentation according to its contents and how to use various means to illustrate complex issues. They also learn how to handle the background literature appropriately.The presentations also help students prepare for their own oral presentation and their thesis defense later on.

Achieving the Goals

Seminars usually consist of 8 to 15 related subtopics, each of which is researched by one participating student. The seminar instructor encourages the students to independently obtain information from library resources, from the Internet or from other appropriate sources, and to use these sources when developing their presentations. The instructor ensures that the students have correctly grasped their research topic and can present it in appropriate manner. He/she also points out sources where students can go within the university to find further information on how to design presentations and the related papers.

Each seminar participant should consult the instructor at least twice before holding a presentation:

  1. In the first meeting, the student and the instructor define and delineate the topic and the involved resources.
  2. In the second meeting, they discuss the design of the presentation materials and the written report.

If necessary, students can request further meetings with their instructor.All seminar participants should be present during the seminar sessions. In addition to a discussion on the contents, the presentation also includes a review of how effectively the students utilized presentation techniques.

The written seminar reports are collected and made available to all participants in an appropriate form.

Performance Evaluation

The grade on the performance includes:

  • How well the student understood the research topic (shown by the quality of the presentation and the written paper), and
  • An assessment of the student’s ability to convey his/her knowledge through the presentation and the written paper. This includes an evaluation of how appropriate the tools and techniques used for the research topic were, and how well the audience was considered.

The University for the Information Society