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Protocol for Assessing Scientists' Presentation Skills

One of the goals of the NSF GK-12 program is to improve the communication skills of Graduate Student Fellows. In collaboration with our external evaluators (P. Borexis and J. Kaser, The Study Group, Inc), we have developed a protocol for assessing the ability of scientists to present scientific information to non-scientific, non-technical audiences. The protocol is designed to work in a variety of settings, including classrooms, lecture halls, and seminars. The audience may be students at any grade level, teachers, parents, or community members. The presentation may be a traditional lecture, or it can be interactive with the presenter and audience asking and answering questions. It should last a minimum of 8-10 minutes so that an observer has the opportunity to rate the scientist's performance on all of the criteria for effective presentations. The protocol may be used as an instructional tool – providing feedback to the presenter (Fellow)– or as an evaluative tool for assessing changes in presentation skills over time. It can also be used as an awareness tool to help a group understand the skill sets involved in making an effective presentation on a technical topic or scientific concept.

If you are interested in using the protocol, we ask that you first read the "Dear Collegue Letter" below. It contains some basic information about the development and use of the protocol and the process for providing feedback on its use and effectiveness.

We have recently (July 2010) revised the protocol as a result of expanded use of the protocol and the feedback we received from protocol users, including our own use over the past three years. The file below contains a description of the changes and updates from version 2.0.

The Assessing Scientists' Presentation Skills Protocol 3.0 file (below) contains:

  • Context and Criteria for Assessing Scientists' Presentation Skills;
  • Introduction to Version 3.0 of the Protocol: What's New and Different?;
  • Rubric for Assessing Scientists' Presentation Skills; and
  • Record Sheet for Assessing Scientists' Presentation Skills

The file is password protected. After reviewing the Dear Colleague Letter (see below), please complete the online registration form. The last screen of the registration form contains the password to access the file. Registration information will be used to track adoptions of the protocol by other programs and to notify users of updates and changes.

Please feel free to contact Rick Tankersley at if you have any questions or comments.

Dear Colleague Letter: Development and Use of the Protocol for Assessing (updated July 2010)

Online User Registration and Password Access

Assessing Scientists' Presentation Skills Protocol 3.0



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