Student Academic Conference Student Information

  • At Minnesota State University Moorhead, our purpose is to transform the world by transforming lives. Few experiences are as life-changing as the opportunity to engage in original research or creative activity and present the results to our academic community.

    Student Presenter Instructions

  •   Poster Presentation Oral Presentation
    Definition A typical poster presentation involves the presenter(s) standing by a poster on an easel, and fielding questions from an audience which moves through the various posters. A typical presentation involves the presenter and often some sort of visual aid (such as a PowerPoint) which the presenter uses to convey information about a topic. Audience members generally stay in the room for the whole presentation. Other oral presentations have included debates, lessons created by education students, original media productions, and original artistic performances.
    Audience The audience is mobile and random. The audience is seated for the duration of the presentation.
    Length of presentation The presenter will spend an 80 minute session accompanying his or her poster.

    Most interactions with audience members are around 5 minutes.
    Typical presentation time is 20 minutes, with 3 minutes for transition from the previous presentation, 12 minutes for the student presentation, and 5 minutes for questions. All presentations should allow at least 5 minutes for questions.
    Equipment The presenter is given an easel and a specified location. No other equipment (electric cords, ethernet cables, tables, chairs, computers, etc.) is provided. If additional equipment is needed, please feel free to ask for it, but formal presentations will receive priority on computers, projectors, etc. Presenters are, however, more than welcome to bring their own laptops.
    CRUCIAL NOTE: Posters must be RIGID to sit on the easels. If a poster is printed on poster paper, it will curl and fall off the easel unless attached to a firm backing. Many students had to run back to their department the day of the conference to scrounge cardboard for backing.
    Standard provided equipment: P.C. computer, internet, & projector.

    Different presentations need different equipment. There is a wide range of equipment available that you may request if needed (laptops, PowerPoint projectors, TV’s, DVD players, VCR players, sound/speakers, whiteboards).
    Number presenting Individual or group Individual or group

    So you are interested in the Student Academic Conference (SAC), but you do not know what it is and you do not know what to do. Now what?

    • The most important step is getting in touch with a faculty member to serve as your mentor. If you already have one, great. If not, seek a faculty member who teaches a class in or otherwise works with the area you wish to learn more about.
    • Meet with your mentor about your application and project. Discuss the topic, title, whether or not you need to apply for Institutional Review Board permission, abstract, methodology, appropriate type of presentation (poster/oral presentation), group or individual presentation, special needs, time constraints, etc.
    • Apply online before February 28, 2021. Work on your presentation until April. Present April 20, 2021.

    The table below provides detail for 4 possible paths to the SAC depending on whether you are in independent study, a class with a large project, in a class that made you want to do more outside of class, or other.

    Situation Person to talk to Steps to take Comments
    Student working with a faculty member on independent study or research. The faculty member who is working with you is the obvious choice. Meet with your faculty member about presenting your work/findings. This is a great natural fit, and presenting at the SAC is often a requirement in these cases.
    Student in a class (or who has already completed a class) that has a large project (feasibility study, lesson plan, capstone). Talk to the instructor of that class, first. If that instructor is not interested in being your SAC advisor, another faculty in the same field or your academic advisor might be interested. Discuss any modifications to the project you created for class that might need to be made to make it a good poster or presentation for the SAC. In some cases, instructors have given extra credit in the class comparable to the extra work needed to create the SAC presentation. This information is often in the syllabus.
    Student who completed an activity in a class that really opened his/her eyes to an exciting issue in that field of study and made him/her want to learn more outside of class. As above, talk with that instructor first. If that instructor is not interested in being your SAC advisor, another faculty in the same field or your academic advisor might be interested. How can you take that idea further? Secondary research (reading the ideas of others) is one route. Primary research appropriate to that field of study, such as using existing data sets, conducting a survey or experiment is another. This might lead to independent study/research as listed in the first row. Several good presentations have come from students who have taken a small, in-class activity and expanded it as the basis for an independent study. The SAC is a perfect forum for sharing the results of this independent study.
    Other, for instance: member of a team, group or student organization. Your organization’s faculty advisor or coach would be the appropriate choice, if applicable. Failing this, your academic advisor is a possibility. Find a topic related to your group that has a broader public interest. While mere advertising posters are not appropriate (Join the ____ club!), your passion for you organization might give you an opportunity to do primary or secondary research. For instance, football concussions have been in the news lately. “Do rugby athletes (no helmets) have higher rates of concussions that football players?” might be a presentation that would interest many people and be of interest to people on either the MSUM football team or Rugby Club.

    Before applying, please make sure that you have the names, emails, and Dragon ID's of all participants in your group.

    Please make sure you have discussed your presentation with your project advisor, including any IRB (Institutional Review Board, for ANY project involving human subjects) concerns if using human subjects in any way. You will need your advisor's email address.

    Finally, these links may be helpful to you as you write your abstract.

    Poster Requirements

    1. The suggested poster area is 3 feet high and 4 feet long.
    2. The title of your paper and the author(s) names should be at least 1 inch high (font 72).
    3. The title of your paper should be at the top of the poster—the title and author(s) names on the center, left, or right of the poster.
    4. The font of the body should be at least 3/8 of an inch (font 27) preferably in bold font.
    5. Works cited or references should have a smaller font than 27, suggested font 22.
    6. The poster should be edited carefully.
    7. The poster should be printed (rare exceptions would be permitted).
    8. The poster should have rigid backing, so please bring poster board or foam board to mount your poster on. You will only be provided an easel.

    Poster Suggestions

    When preparing your poster, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Would someone reading this poster walk away understanding the major findings or points of the paper?
    • Would a careful reader be able to ask relevant questions about my work?
    • Is the sequence of information clear? Use arrows, numbers, or letters to let the reader know the flow of information.
    • Include the major points only; leave less essential information for informal discussions.

    In addition to a title and author label and abstract, most successful posters provide brief statements of introduction, method, procedure, results, and conclusions. Speak to your advisor for conventions specific to your field.

    Poster Sample Templates

    Here are two sample templates that you may use to create your poster. The four MSUM logos in the bottom right corner can be deleted, moved or copied, but NOT modified (except to enlarge or shrink) without permission of the university.

    Poster Printing Options

    • Option 1: The Student Academic Conference Committee may print the poster free of charge provided that:
      • You submit the poster to by April 2, 2021 as a PDF file — be sure to include your full name in the file’s name (for example SACJohnDuncanDoe.pdf).
      • You use one of the two Poster Sample Templates (see above). Be sure to not make any alternations to logos, margins, etc. The four logos in the bottom right corner can be deleted, moved or copied, but NOT modified (except to enlarge or shrink) without permission of the university.
      • You include citations (references) for ALL material (quotes, ideas, and images) obtained from other sources.
      • You proof read and edit your poster carefully.
      • The SAC will only print 3 foot x 4 foot color posters on plain paper.
      • The SAC will not pay for any posters printed elsewhere.
      • The SAC reserves the right to reject any posters that have many grammatical errors, that do not include citations, or that are poorly laid out.
      • Poster pick up date will be April 19, 2021 by 3 p.m. in MA 380.
    • Option 2: You may also utilize the services of University Graphics to get your poster printed. Email your posters to Pick up posters at Marketing & Communications located in the lower level of Grier Hall. Graphics will call you when your posters are finished. If your file is too large to send by email, you may bring your file to Marketing & Communications on a CD or jump/flash drive and fill out a job form.
      • Formats accepted: PDF
      • Size: Make sure your size properties are the actual size you would like the poster to be. Use the template above.
      • Payment: Check with your department. They may pay for the poster costs for you. If so, make sure you include the department account number, telephone number and department name. Otherwise, pay with a check.
      • Cost: Special pricing for the SAC is available: $2.50 per square foot (4' x 3' = 12' x $2.50 = $30); if it is a personal order, sales taxes will be added bringing the costs to $32.21.
      • Due date: Please submit the poster no later than April 3. It is preferred you submit your poster 2-3 weeks prior to the conference to avoid the rush. A $5 rush charge will be added to any posters not in by April 14, 2020.

    Oral Presentation Guidelines

    1. Prepare for a 12 minute presentation followed by 5 minutes for questions and discussion, unless you requested more time or are part of a panel organized by your instructor.
    2. Aim your presentation to intelligent people who may not have background in your field.
      • Consequently, while being rigorous and using the tools in your field for your research, try to avoid using the technical language in your field during the presentation.
    3. Prepare and practice your presentation. Remember you are the expert in your topic and you may know more than you can say in a short time, so:
      • Compose a good introduction
      • Focus on the main, most important points of your research
      • Finish with a strong conclusion
    4. Visual aids (PowerPoint slides, maps, photos, film clips, graphs, diagrams, and charts) may help enhance your presentation. Be sure to:
      • Keep your visual aids simple and uncluttered
      • Use color and contrast, but use them in moderation
      • Use a font large enough to be seen from the back of a room (as a rule of thumb, if slides are readable from 9 feet away on a 15" computer monitor, then they are readable from the back of a room)
    5. Practice does make perfect!
      • Practice giving your presentation to yourself. Speak out loud and time yourself. Practice using your visual aids. It is absolutely important that you adhere to your time limit.
    6. Backup plans are essential!
      • Things can go wrong, prepare for that eventuality. For example, internet connectivity can be down for a short while...just as your presentation starts. So, have a plan B ready!