Philosophy Classroom Poster Sessions

Nick Byrd, a PhD student in philosophy at Florida State University, has posted about the classroom poster session that students in Marcela Herdova‘s Free Will & Science course recently took part in. He says that it “was one of the most enriching classroom experiences I’ve ever witnessed.”

The idea is based on conference poster sessions, which are still somewhat unusual in philosophy, and which Byrd likes because “discussions at poster sessions are much more focused, extended, and constructive” than typical paper presentations.

Additional reasons to put on a classroom poster session:

  • “Classroom poster sessions buy you [a few] classes of learning and review in exchange for a bit of grading”
  • During poster sessions, “students learn things that cannot be taught online,” and so help make a case against replacing traditional classrooms with online-only teaching.
  • “Students learn how to quickly pitch their ideas to peers and supervisors.”
  • “Students learn how to both ask and field questions about specific claims and arguments.”
  • “Students can autonomously explore the course material in ways that they otherwise could not.”
  • “Presenting a poster to a few peers and your instructor is much less nerve-racking for students than presenting in front of an entire class.”

My late colleague, Ann Johnson, would have the students in her Engineering Ethics course participate in a somewhat different version of a semester-end poster session, reserving a large room and inviting faculty and students from all over the university to come by, see the posters, and discuss them with the students.

Byrd provides more information about classroom poster sessions, including instructions on putting one together and examples of posters, here. Check it out.

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