Using reflection and self-analysis to develop university students’ academic presentation skills
Academic presentation skills are an essential part of university language and communication courses in Finland. Finnish students practice academic presentation skills in English in the Bachelor level and more scientific style in the Master level. As they enter Master studies, students have presentation experience and generally manage well, yet pre-presentation many are concerned about nerves, pronunciation and formality, and post-presentation many focus on possible errors. In this qualitative study, Finnish Master degree students (n=52) shared expectations about their upcoming English academic presentation as a video recording task, and following the presentation, self-analysed their performance in writing. The data on pre-presentation expectations and post-presentation self-analyses were analysed using content analysis. The pre-presentation videos indicated that while many students were concerned about the formality of the presentation language and content, and the pronunciation of more formal vocabulary, nervousness was the main concern. In the post-presentation self-analyses, many students were relieved to have managed well or better than expected, but many still highlighted their nervousness and errors in pronunciation. The results indicate that students require continuous support to develop oral English competence through reflection and analysis to adopt a more accepting attitude to minor errors in foreign language communication.