Empowering Students is the Solution
August 6, 2018 – It is no longer enough for a student to be knowledgeable on the subject matter of a particular major, but also empowered with the soft skills necessary to enhance their employability. The Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC) at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) demonstrates it is essential to teach students effective oral communication and achieves that goal by hosting mock oral and poster research symposiums. With globalization having a profound effect on education, the active and reflective application of knowledge that innovates better prepares students to compete in their future careers. Because the exercise focuses on practicing public oral presentation, the symposiums expose students to opportunities that promote the productive exchange of ideas and findings in research specific forums as well as non-scientific communities.
The capability to present informatively and logically is crucial in building a foundation of the soft skills that will eventually increase learning and inspire new perspectives. At CARC’s most recent symposium, Tamia Littlejohn, senior agriculture major, said she gained knowledge from not only her research but from that of her peers. She further stated, “Through the oral presentations, I had the opportunity to develop real-world experiences and strengthen my leadership skills.” As Littlejohn indicated, the scientific discourse is not merely presenting information but a lesson in critical thinking.
California native and chemical engineering student, Tony Green, commanded the audience’s attention with a professional appearance and gave strong concluding remarks that reinforced the informational value of his research. He added, “Having scientists and professors in the audience allowed me to step up my game. I want to be taken seriously when I come to people for recommendation letters for potential internships and graduate schools. I think my generation gets a bad rap when it comes to performing publically because everyone thinks all we do is text.”
As the gateway to help students reach educational goals and explore career options, PVAMU makes no compromises on the expectation their graduates will enter the workforce with the ability to communicate effectively. However, these oral presentations also aimed to connect students with faculty and gain industry knowledge, helping them to deal with situations essential to career development.
Special thanks are extended to Dr. Laura Carson, Director of Compliance and Student Success, and the many CARC scientists and staff who mentored the participating students.
This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Evans-Allen 1890 Research Formula Program project under Section 1445.
Kelley A. Redmon