Although I’m abandoning my attempt to teach students how to ask good questions, I will continue to use rocket pitch presentations. Since this activity was inspired by the presentations that entrepreneurs use to attract venture capital, I should have realized that ideas for improving it could be found in a book on start-ups. Students (at least here) don’t do well with broad instructions for creative endeavors; they unfortunately prefer step-by-step directions. Telling them to create and deliver a presentation that answers a question is just too vague. So while I might tell students that an effective presentation, regardless of its purpose, should quickly engage the interest of the intended audience and succinctly communicate to that audience the presenter’s intended message, they flounder if they are not also told what kind of message to deliver.
I want to move the focus of these presentations from abstract question development to specific problem solving while building on what students say in class. I don’t know exactly how I might accomplish this yet, given the inability to pre-plan due to the spontaneous nature of class discussion. So that part needs work. I do have some questions that I can give students as a rubric for how their presentations should be organized:
- What is the problem?
- What’s the status of the problem in the specific context you are working with?
- What’s your idea for a solution to the problem?
- Why is your idea special? Why hasn’t this solution been tried already? Or has it?
- What’s next? What happens when the solution is implemented?
Obviously this needs some work, but it’s a start.