Outside of the academic community, most people don’t realize that a scholar’s education doesn’t end with getting a higher degree. Part of obtaining that expert title is the understanding that the knowledge in one’s field must be kept up with annually through self-development and continuing education opportunities like academic seminars.
Seminars are popular in educating students and continuing to disseminate knowledge amongst those who are already considered to be experts. Research continually brings us new information in scopes of practice around the globe and assuming you already know it all can be a dangerous train of thought for a scholar who wants to stay competitive in their field. But what role do academic seminars actually play in increased scholarly engagement? That, according to studies, depends on a lot of different variables.
What Goes on in an Academic Seminar?
The reason behind any particular academic seminar can range, depending on the needs of the presenter and the audience. For instance, some postgraduate instructors teach to small groups of students through seminars rather than lecture courses, and other seminars are put on by experts in a field who are not otherwise connected to the institution itself.
Seminars are broken down into four main types - follow-up, small-group teaching, work-in-progress, and workshops:
● In a follow-up seminar, the information disseminated to students during a series of lectures is reviewed and reinforced. The attendees of the seminar are grouped into sections to discuss, analyze, and synthesize the points made in the lecture and then apply them to other areas of life that may not have been connected without the follow-up and discussion. This is also the opportunity to debate points of disagreement and ask for clarification on issues of uncertainty.
● In small-group teaching seminars, students get comprehensive and individualized instruction. These are frequently used as continuing education vessels for specialized fields of research with postgraduates. These seminars tend to have better scholarly engagement because, with such small groups, they lend themselves to collaborative learning experiences. With small-group learning, an expert supervises and leads the instruction, but the teaching and learning is spread out amongst the students, as well. They research topics and then present their findings to the rest of the group, and the instructor is able to handle clarification or extend knowledge based on anything the presenter missed or questions the rest of the group has after the presentation.
● Work-in-progress seminars are a good way for undergraduate and postgraduate students to get feedback on large projects through peer reviews and instructional critiquing. Because of the solitary aspect of doctorate degrees, this is also a good way for those students to connect and network with others. In these seminars, students get a feel for the scope of projects in the works by their peers, can give and receive feedback, and learn better ways to defend their work before it is finalized and ready for submission.
● In workshop seminars, a specific purpose is the theme and everyone who attends is interested in solving the problem posed. The goal is always to find a solution that everyone agrees on, such as beginning a new committee to tackle an evolving concern on the horizon or to discuss and solve high-tension issues on the campus. These are not solely academic in nature, but they can be.
These workshops all have varying degrees of scholarly engagement.
Factors That Determine Scholarly Engagement
Similar to how you’d judge your own students’ engagement, the factors that increase scholarly focus during an academic seminar boil down to some key elements:
● The student’s motivation to learn the information. Each person has their own reasons for being in the seminar. Those who have a unique need for the content being shared will tend to be more engaged than those who are attending solely for the purpose of obtaining the credits necessary to move to their next academic level.
● The student’s level of interest in the subject matter presented. We all have our preferred interests, and if our motivation isn’t significant enough but the topic is something that piques our curiosity, we’ll pay more attention to it.
● The teaching style itself. Lecture-based instruction has less engagement than strategies of instruction that are student-centered.
● How familiar the student is with the content. This could go either way. Students need to be somewhat familiar enough with the material to be able to feel comfortable with the new knowledge presented, but not overly familiar to the point they tune out from boredom.
The ripple effect of consequences when scholars are engaged and learning goes beyond the individual attendee. Academic seminars that are impactful succeed in imparting the knowledge to the student, and then to those around that person when they share what they learned or apply it in research and instruction.
Using Impactio in Academic Seminars
Part of scholarly engagement in an academic seminar relies on the methods you use to present your information. When you implement tools like Impactio to create the documents you use, you are sharing professional PDF documents and web pages that attract the audience’s attention and engage them.
Impactio is an all-in-one platform designed for scholars. It makes it simple for you to drag and drop your text, break it into subsections with the premade templates, and turn your data into eye-catching charts, tables, and graphs to use in your seminars.