Student Researchers Perfect Presentation Skills During PEGS Boot Camps

PEGS logoStudent researchers at California State University, Dominguez Hills had the opportunity to hone their presentation skills during boot camps offered on Feb. 1 and 8 by the university’s Promoting Excellence in Graduate Studies (PEGS) program.

Leena Furtado, professor and chair of the Division of Graduate Education, who is also the director and principle investigator of PEGS, said PEGS created the boot camp workshops to assist a growing number of CSU Dominguez Hills students who present at conferences. The February boot camps were the first ones offered and were specifically for students participating in this week’s Ninth Annual CSU Dominguez Hills Student Research Day, taking place all day Thursday, Feb. 13, in Loker Student Union.

SRD2014Student Research Day showcases the research, scholarship and creative activity of students and their faculty mentors in a wide array of research disciplines.

Winners selected from each of the CSU’s 23 campuses will go on to compete at the CSU statewide Twenty-Seventh Annual Student Research Competition, held at California Polytechnic University, Pomona on May 10 and 11.

For more information about Student Research Day, visit

The two three-hour Saturday boot camps provided students with a unique opportunity to practice their presentations in “full-dress rehearsal” mode, where they received critical constructive feedback from qualified PEGS Graduate Writing Consultants and student peers to help them improve their oral, PowerPoint, and poster board presentations, as well as to fine tune their delivery presenting to an academic audience.

The boot camp workshops offered a non-threatening “cross-age” peer-learning experience, Furtado said, and gave participants the opportunity for an exchange with students outside their own discipline, providing a fresh perspective.

SRD 5aIn an anonymous evaluation survey a student respondent wrote, “After the workshop I felt like I will be setting bar/standard for SRD. Such valuable information. It raise[d] my confidence exponentially.”

Since offering its first SRD preparation workshop in 2013, the PEGS program expanded to meet the needs not just of the number of student presenters but to assist as the general ability has increased.

“This year we decided let’s continue that in the spirit of supporting students, in the context of presentations, in effort to offer a more ‘hands-on’ workshop,” said PEGS grant administrator, Oscar Ochoa, who is an Interdisciplinary Studies graduate student.

One element of research presentation that is particularly amenable is poster organization, Furtado noted. Because a poster communicates visually, she said it’s critical that the content is purposeful, including the amount and size of the text, and the quality of the graphics.

During the boot camps, students analyzed and learned from samples of well and poorly organized posters that were provided by PEGS.

“Different disciplines require different kinds of poster presentations. In the sciences you do need to give a lot of data analyses up front with the objective and methodology. Whereas in other areas, you may go with less qualitative and quantitative facts, but with narratives and the subsections of research are very important,” Furtado said. “These are some of the nuances students can learn from PEGS.”

PEGS also provided boot camp participants with a sample of the types of questions that will be asked during SRD judging, said Furtado, who will be serving as chair of an SRD session in social and behavioral sciences.

Additionally, in the weeks leading up to Student Research Day PEGS offered peer-assisted learning workshops on presenting at conferences, assessing, analyzing, and evaluating research articles, and synthesizing sources.

“What an outstanding presentation by the presenter, April Frykenberg (a graduate student from Claremont Graduate University)! She gave some great basic information about presenting in an academic forum, and the mock presentation and coaching session were also very good. The student who attended with me from the College of Business Administration and Public Policy was also very impressed with the presenter. Personally, the workshop gave me a better perspective about what to expect as a faculty judge on Thursday [at the university’s Student Research Day]. I also thought that the insights that [Leena Furtado] shared with the students were very helpful. Overall, a great day for PEGS!”

                                    — Gary Polk, adjunct instructor of management

Since its establishment in 2010, PEGS has supported nearly 5,000 students, both from its office, which is located on the fourth floor of the Library in room 4579, and through the PEGS Virtual Lab. Engaging 324 faculty, it has integrated and interrelated student services, leadership, and outreach activities, as well as making formal and informal gains in instituting grant activities and resources for campus-wide usage.

With the development of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, Furtado pointed out that PEGS fulfills the mission and vision of University President Willie J. Hagan regarding student success. Furtado went on to say that through research, students gain advanced knowledge in their discipline, become competitive in the workforce, and are better prepared to contribute to their communities.

“Research is the higher echelon of learning for any student who is advancing to higher education or a professional career. Excellence comes when you engage and think critically about the area of study you are advancing. To hold a dialogue about your area of study or make a contribution, a publication, pursue higher education. To be a service in the community research and critical thinking skills are valuable in any work place. Being able to write, to be creative and create a voice, the connection between an argument and a theme in a thesis. These are very important skills that our students take away from PEGS,” Furtado said. “One of the outcomes is Student Research Day.”

For more information about PEGS, call (310) 243-2700 or visit


  1. Olivia Havens says:

    I myself am presenting at Student Research Day, and I had no idea about this! If I had known I would have participated, as this is my first time presenting at SRD, and I do not know what to expect. Next year, please advertise this to the students who are participating! Maybe send them an email, as we do submit abstracts before we are accepted for Research Day, so you do have ways of getting in contact with presenters directly, instead of flimsy advertising around school or just on the school website!

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