Activities for FYF 101J
7 December 2009
How to make a great poster


The purposes of today's session are to:


As noted previously in class, you are being asked to help create one of nine posters that will collectively cover the nine webquest topics discussed in FYF 101J.  Once completed, posters will be displayed in the Biology Department hallway for the first five weeks of the spring semester.  They will be made available on the Internet for the world to see.  In addition, your posters will likely be displayed in upcoming on-campus and off-campus events dealing with alternative energy.

The key point is that your posters will likely have a mixed audience, though you should gear them toward informing an intelligent public (say college-age) about your topic.  Thus, they should provide some introduction to the topic, but they should address some of the subtantive issues that you discussed in your Webquest.

Your poster will be graded on a 50 point basis.  Grading will be based on content, design, and execution.

Posters as a Way of Communicating

Posters are a popular way to present information at technical meetings.  Most conferences have dedicated sessions in which presenters are given a space to tack up a 36" x 48" poster.  Those sessions are often held in large rooms with dozens of posters - often clustered by topic.  Some meetings have both informal times in which the authors are not present, and formal times in which the authors are required to stand by their poster to answer questions.  Many conferences even hold "poster pubs" in which beverages and food are made available when the authors are available.

Many people prefer to present posters, rather than give oral presentations, because they can engage in more meaningful discussions with conference attendees.  Many a job interview has been arranged during a poster session.

Making a Great Poster

Posters represent a form of communication that is inherently different from oral presentations and published articles.  Posters must address the "3-30-3" phenomenon.  Simply put, you will have 3 seconds to attract a passerby,  Next you must be able to provide something interesting to a person willing to spend 30 seconds at your poster.  Finally, you should be able to keep that person sufficiently interested to spend at least 3 minutes looking through the details of your effort.

Thus, to have an effective poster, you have to pay close attention to effective design, as well as have an important message to convey.  Unfortunately, poorly designed posters are easy to find at meetings - typically because they attract few visitors.  Poster creators have to walk a fine line between providing too much information in a highly detailed poster that overwhelms, and providing superficial information in an oversimplified poster that insults.

Numerous online and print-based resources provide information on how to create effective posters.  One excellent resource is posted by a University of Michigan professor, and is available at:
Your instructor will briefly review that site.

Evaluating Available Posters

To give you more experience with determining the components of an effective poster, you will evaluate two on display along the Biology Department corridors.  You will use a scoring rubric created by your professor to facilitate that process.  That rubric is available here.  Please download it and bring it to class.

You will be given 20 minutes to review two posters.  You will conduct the review with your poster team.  You will submit your completed rubric to your instructor, where it will be worth 10 points.

After the review, please return to class for further instruction.

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