Graduate Student Journal Club

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology

University of Vermont

Description of exemplary or innovative element

The Graduate Student Journal Club is a public presentation of a recently published paper that is of general interest to the Neuroscience community.

Details of the element

  • This element appears in the first year of the graduate program
  • The graduate students together with a faculty advisor implement the program
  • It is required for all students every year that they are in the program
  • It was instituted a number of years ago in order to give the students an opportunity to hone their public speaking skills
  • Student talk poster 1
    These posters are here so that you can see what sort of papers were selected this past term. The theme was "related to your own work".

    Student talk poster 2

    Student talk poster 3

    What educational purpose does this element serve?

    This element serves to hone the public speaking skills as well the ability to create an effective presentation and to think on their feet. More recently, senior students have taken junior students "under their wing" and advised them on choice of paper and worked with them to teach them how to generate effective powerpoints and listened to their practice talks. Thus, students also learn how to teach others to give talks.

    What data or evidence tells us that this works?

  • Students are more confident of speaking abilities
  • Faculty participation (as an audience) remains high
  • They win awards for presentations at university-wide research meetings
  • They are more effective teachers
  • They enjoy giving presentations and lectures
  • They become confident enough to teach others how to give presentations

  • Diane Jaworski, Assoc. Prof.
    Diane Jaworski, Assoc. Prof.

    Reflection from a faculty member

    Because the Graduate Student Journal Club selects a different theme each semester, it increases student's breadth of knowledge by familiarizing them with topics to which they would not otherwise be exposed. Journal Club also allows faculty members to stay current with literature and explore areas outside their research focus. By critically evaluating scientific literature outside their research area, students become more at ease stepping outside their "comfort zone". Furthermore, by continually honing their presentation skills, it further helps to develop their sense of self-confidence. Thus, the Graduate Student Journal Club is an outstanding feature of our doctoral program.

    Julie Simpson
    Julie Simpson

    Reflection from a student

    I am currently a fifth year graduate student in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Vermont. In our program, students are required to present one journal article per semester starting second semester of their first year. At first this requirement seemed a daunting and intimidating task. However, this program has proven invaluable in my training to become a scientist. It has enabled me to critically evaluate all aspects of primary research from the methods used to the interpretation of the results. In addition, presenting primary literature has allowed me to hone my presentation skills and gain confidence in addressing and interacting with professors within our department. My first year, this requirement terrified me. Now, I am indebted to this one aspect of our program because it has shown me that I am an effective speaker and scientist.

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