Sixteen years ago Microsoft created PowerPoint to aid in
presentations, help speakers emphasize points and to help the
audience better retain the information being presented.
This form of presenting key points along with the option of
flashy graphics and musical backgrounds has made its way into
classrooms everywhere from universities to elementary schools.
Instructing with PowerPoint is different from the experience
former generations of students had listening to a lecture and
taking notes on what they believed was most important.
Some students believe instructing with PowerPoint can have
negative effects on learning.
“It can take away from the teaching,” said Greg Walker, a
sophomore pre-construction management major. “If the notes are in
paragraph form, I can’t focus on what’s important, and I don’t pay
attention to the lecture.”
Although most professors do use PowerPoint only as a guide to
outline their lecture, some use it to write full sentences. This
can lead to a student’s attention being directed toward the lengthy
notes they are copying rather than the lecture being presented.
“It’s useful if it’s in bulleted form and you can concentrate on
what (the professor) is saying, to fill in your own notes,” Walker
Doug Hoffman, a professor in the marketing department uses
PowerPoint in his lectures, but focuses his student’s attention by
underlining and highlighting what he considers to be the important
information. He also uses WebCT to post the PowerPoint slides
“A major fear is that I will post these slides before class and
no one is going to show up,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said some students benefit from bringing the slides to
class and adding notes to them as he lectures.
“It’s a great equalizer, some students write faster than others,
some learn better by taking notes, or following along with the
notes. It creates more flexibility,” he said.
His fear of students not attending class, however, is valid,
because some students will not go to class if they know the notes
will be available from their computer at home.
“Why go to class when (the professor) is repeating exactly
what’s on the PowerPoint or posted on WebCT?” said Karen Roehler, a
junior interior design major.
Hoffman instructs students who use PowerPoint for their
presentations in class to stick to the basics.
“You need to get to the key point, forget all the bells and
whistles, and the flashing words. Clip art is fine, but the basic
information is all that is really needed,” he said.
This is good information for students. But, for professors,
resources are available to brush up on their PowerPoint skills.
Carol Marander, coordinator at Instructional Services offers a
workshop for faculty and staff on the aesthetics of PowerPoint.
Fran Parker, an IT professional I at the Computer Networking
Services, teaches a workshop on how to build an effective
Neither of these workshops is required of professors before they
use PowerPoint in a lecture.
“It depends on the class and the teacher, but PowerPoint can
help cover more material during the lecture,” Hoffman said.