Presentation Criteria for WRA135

Note One:
You've surely heard the expression "less is more" (such as when we design our webpages). This should be an example of "more is less." That is, while there's lots of text on this Presentation Criteria page, it should create fewer questions concerning the assignment. If it doesn't, ask for clarification/amplification and I'll supplement as needed. Meantime, start this project right away ... and use this strategy for your research (read on and you'll soon see why).

Note Two:

It is, as they say, "Mission Critical" to be CERTAIN your presentation deals with American civil liberties in the post-11 September 2001 environment.  That is, as you gather information, you should CONSTANTLY be asking yourself "how relevant is this to (a) my chapter topic, (b) the 'situation' in America since the attacks, and (c) what can I share with my audience about what Americans should do about the topic?"


Group Presentations
Group Presentation Webpage
Individual Presentation Webpages
Sample Quiz
Guidelines for presenting to a scholarly audience


What follows is a list of elements to keep in mind for your Group Presentations (in front of the class with your group) and its webpage (linked to the Moe's WRA135 webfolio), as well as your Individual Presentation Webpage (for your WRA135 webfolio only).

As you know, presentations receive a "doubled" Level II evaluation "weight" for your Final Evaluation for the course. Please remember all elements must be completed - on time - to receive a passing Individual Presentation Webpage evaluation, and Class Presentations must be completed when assigned (however, supplemental information may well be added to online presentation materials after the in-class presentations).

Also please remember all groupmembers will receive the same score for the Group Presentation component of the assignment, but separate evaluations will be made for Individual Presentation Webpages. For example, the groupmembers presenting on "Separation of Church and State" may receive only a 1.5 for their Class Presentation (if, say, a few presenters' dogs/computers "ate" some of their presentation material ... or the audience was simply "bored to tears," if the handout was very poor, or if someone simply read to us [DO NOT READ TO US]) but an individual member with an excellent - 4.0 - Individual Presentation Webpage may expect a much better presentation assignment evaluation than a groupmember with a 2.5 webpage devoted to her/his section of the presentation. To prevent this, I will have occasional meeting with Moes to be sure all groupmembers are "keeping up" with their responsibilities.

Keep it schlolarly, make it fun!

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Group Presentations

First of all, be sure you have COORDINATED YOUR WORK with your presentation groupmates; again, everyone gets the same evaluation for the Group Presentation and Group Presentation Webpage parts of the assignment. Remember these evaluation criteria:
Second, you MUST produce a HANDOUT for the class which outlines the key ideas of your presentation. Your audience should have these "in hand" as your presentation progresses, allowing them to "follow along." No exceptions.
Third, consider how very tight these presentations must be - NO MORE THAN FORTY FIVE MINUTES from start to finish. I strongly recommend you PRACTICE a couple of times before "the show." Less time and you couldn't possibly develop your focus; more and you'll run into another group's time slot, mindful we should leave time after presentations for Questions and Answers. Speaking of the Q&A, if nobody asks questions but me, I'll be most disappointed.

Fourth, to be sure your audience is actually "up" on the material you're supplementing, you must give a QUICK QUIZ on the sourcetext before you present. This must take no longer than five minutes, so just 4 or 5 good, quick questions with just 4 or 5 foils each should be fine (NO True/False, NO Fill In the Blank). Don't be too "nit-picky"; ask substantive questions about the most important issues and the people identified with those issues. (A sample is below.) The Presenting Group's Moe is to submit to me - via email - Quiz Questions at least two or three "class days" before you give them to the class (i.e., if you present on Tuesday, send the questions the previous Thursday; if presenting Thursday, send the questions Monday).

Fifth, your GROUP PRESENTATION WEBPAGE - detailed below - will be available on a page linked to the Moe's webfolio; each groupmember then makes a link to that page. As a "shortcut," you may simply make reference to a source during your presentation which is available online.

Sixth-and-last, see "First of all," above, and be sure your presentation is COORDINATED. Consider legal/historical/regional context as among your most fundamental criteria of INTERPRETATION.

Last reminders: do NOT simply submit raw information with no context or critical evaluation - these are NOT mere "encyclopedia entries"! And, to be sure, DO NOT READ TO US.

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Group Presentation Webpage

Shortly after beginning the strategy for your own research, your group should get together and begin drafting your Group Presentation Webpage using the same strategy. That webpage should consist of at least the following elements:


Your Group Presentation Webpage's essay is to be based on your presentation supplement texts and will be evaluated as a critical essay with a specific audience - your classmates and instructor - with an introduction, body, and conclusion as established in the rubric's specific areas (I, II, III, IV, V, and VI). The body of the essay should be between 800-1500 words in length, not counting citations or lenghty quotes (if you feel you must go beyond that limit, you must confer with me first).


Use this research strategy! I will ask from time to time where you are in your progress, and you need to be able to point at a specific place on that illustration. Needless to say, as the semester progresses and presentations approach, your "place" on the illustration should be approaching the bottom.

For your Group Presentation Webpage essay ...

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Individual Presentation Webpages

This is your chance to really "show your stuff" about your knowledge beyond the sourcetext, Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints. Your Individual Presentation Webpage is to be based solely on your presentation texts (NOT the Civil Liberties sourcetext) and will be evaluated separately from your groupmembers'.

The Individual Presentation Webpage consists of two parts. First is the essay section. Keep in mind this is a critical essay - with a thesis, not a mere "dictionary entry" - as established in the rubric's specific areas (I, II, III, IV, V, and VI). It should be between 750-1050 words in length (if you feel you must go beyond that limit, you must confer with me about it first), it must use correct MLA citations, and - again - it should have a thesis supporting a side, though it must also be balanced (not a mere one-sided polemic).

The second part you are to include on this page is the annotations to your supplementing texts from your presentation; in other words, it's your Works Cited for the 750-1050 word essay described above. However, the annotations of your Works Cited will be of the "critical" variety, as you're evaluating them for usefulness to you.


As with your group work, use this research strategy for your Individual Presentation Webpage. Again, I will ask from time to time where you are in your progress, and you need to be able to point at a specific place on that illustration.

For your Individual Presentation Webpage ...


Questions? Email me, or - better - ask during classtime!

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Sample Quiz for Chapter One
Last Name ___________________ , First Name _____________ (Score ____ )
(Score to be filled in by Moe)

1. According to the 1997 poll of 1026 Americans described in Thompson's article in Viewpoint One, which kind of expression did more people want to restrict?

a. Offensive Art
b. Hate Speech
c. Flag Burning
d. Editorial Cartoons

2. According to the authors of Viewpoint Three, "Hate Speech Should Be Restricted," hate speech denies what?

a. Educational opportunity
b. Pursuit of happiness
c. Equality
d. Freedom

3. Jones cites cases from 1989 and 1990 in which the US Supreme Court declared two laws intended to prohibit flag burning were unconstitutional because they violated ...

a. ... Miranda Rights.
b. ... the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
c. ... the First Amendment to the Constitution.
d. ... the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

4. Goodwin's research indicates government inquiries in Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand have accepted the evidence of the links between pornography and harm to which pair?

a. female teens and male teens
b. children and adult women
c. children and male teens
d. adult women and male teens

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Quiz Results Format

Moes are to email to me the results of their Presentation Group's Quiz within 24 hours of giving the Quiz (failure to do so will, of course, result in a deduction from the Group Presentation). The simple format is:

Alphabetized by last name, followed by the first name, followed by the number correct "over" the number of questions. Send this as a plain text message, i.e., NOT as an attachment.


Able, Timmy 3/4
Baker, Cindy 3/4
Brown, James 4/4
Eagle, Tom 2/4
Gregory, Johnny 0/4
Johnson, Jimmy 1/4
... &c.

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Some Guidelines for Presenting to a Scholarly Audience
(adapted from Janet Novak's "Guidelines for Academic Presentations")

  1. Don't worry about a little nervousness. Audiences sympathize with nervousness, but not at all with unpreparedness. Preparation is the best cure for "a case of the nerves." If you find yourself utterly frozen with terror about presenting material you know well in front of fellow students you've come to know for the last couple of months, you should (1) contact the RCPD for testing and assistance and (2) make arrangements for a groupmember to present your material AS WELL AS YOU KNOW IT.
  2. There's no substitute for planning. Structure your presentation so it is most meaningful to your audience. (1) If you're "taking turns" in your group, consider the following two structures: There's the tried and true "tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, then tell 'em, then tell 'em what you told 'em," bottom-up (general-to-specific; inductive) structure, but if you want to make your presentation a bit more dramatic, try leading up to your thesis piece-by-piece from the top-down (specific-to-general; deductive) structure. (2) If you wish your presentation to be even more dramatic, consider not using the "taking turns" approach in favor of creating a "round table dialog" among your group members, facilitated by a member (or me, if you wish). While this can clearly be the more engaging means to enlightening your audience, it requires more practice and teamwork, but it certainly pays off when it works.
  3. Appeal to your audience as listeners, not as readers. The support you give to your thesis should be crystal clear, well-supported, and step-by-step easy to follow. Unlike the written word, which allows us to retrace what we've read, the spoken word must always be clear and self-evident at all times.
  4. Be sure the bulk of your presentation constitutes your work. Don't regurgitate a literature review to your audience; they can see your work and citations online. The audience wants to hear your unique thoughts and how you've synthesized the materials you've come to know so well.
  5. Speak using "comfortable" language. If you have some required jargon in your presentation, be sure the audience understands it before continuing. Don't try to "sound smart" by using convoluted language - the key is the clear communication of your ideas. Also, as we're sometimes dealing with issues of "a sensitive vocabulary," warn the audience before using, for instance, swear words.
  6. Master all your terms and ideas. Similar to the above, and part of the preparedness matter, is the fact that audiences respect a presenter who shows a command of her/his material. Frankly, some presenters have fallen to ruin by using terms they did not actually understand ... or have fallen victim to the "like-uh-hole" (every couple of words being either "like" or "uh"). When that happens, they lose their audience, not to mention their evaluation. Good advice for "like-uh-holics": practice, practice, practice.
  7. Limit your use of audio-visuals. Most PowerPoint "presentations" simply stink; they're usually mishmashes of bullet lists, bad clip art, and distracting swooshes. However, some AV illustrations of exactly the point you're making at a given moment - photos, graphs, audio or video clips, editorial cartoons - can add a great deal to the power of a true presentation. If you want to use brief video or PowerPoint (or KeyNote, &c.) elements in your presentation, get with me first and I can show you some cool ways to add to - what we might call - a helpful gestalt effect. In any case, should you choose to use audio-visuals, you MUST plan for and test your AV materials well in advance (as well as immediately prior to presentation) and have a back-up plan ready on-the-spot if something goes wrong.
  8. As your presentation comes to a close, answer the question: So What? Be sure to address the significance of your work and its importance to post-9/11/01 American civil liberties and other critical areas of American life. Let the audience know why your research is not merely important, but important to them.

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created: 9/5/89
last updated: 2/6/09