COMMUNICATION IN PHYSICS
Horst D Wahl,
- Office 512 Keen Bldg.,
- Phone 644-3509
- Office Hours:
after class and by appointment (send email), any time you can get a hold of me
Class meetings: Monday and Wednesday 13:25 to 14:15 in UPL212
Interest in science and and in talking about scientific topics
Text: no text needed
Purpose of course:
The purpose of this course is to develop
abilities in the area of oral and written communication, with emphasis on
scientific and technological topics.
(Note that communication of scientific results and ideas is an essential skill and
takes up a large fraction of a scientist's time and effort)
Outline of class:
- The class will be conducted in an informal
format, with everyone participating.
- Every student is expected to give three talks during the semester,
with the schedule of talks to be determined.
- In consultation with the instructor, students will choose
topics. The selected topics can be drawn from any area of physics or close
to physics (science other than physics is OK -- subject to instructor's approval,
but physics majors should talk about physics!)
The topic chosen can
be the subject of the student's research project or his/her interest, or
can be one that the group as a whole is interested in learning about.
- For those students who take the intermediate or advanced lab during this
semester, the physics related to the lab experiments, including
description of the experiments and discussion of the results, can serve as
- Once topics have been agreed on, students will then
- produce a written outline of a short presentation of their selected topic
by deadlines to be determined and published by the instructor
- make short (about 15 minutes) presentations of the subject;
for this presentation, projection from a computer
file must be used, and the files have
to be submitted to the instructor one day before the presentation.
- goal of all of these activities:
- practice oral communication skills
- learn how to organize the material in a presentation;
- become more comfortable talking in front of others and develop
skills in delivering a talk;
- become accustomed to answering questions from the audience;
- Improve your thinking-on-your-feet capabilities.
- have fun talking about physics or other scientific topics,
and teach each other some physics or mathematics or chemistry or biology,..
- practice writing understandably about scientific issues
- increase your proficiency with word-processing and presentation
software tools (e.g. Powerpoint, OpenOffice, TeX,....)
- final grade will be based on class participation (attendance, peer reviews,..24%), the
talk outlines (6%), and the presentations (70%).
- Evaluation of talks: After every presentation, your instructor will
provide you with comments, suggestions for improvements, and a point grade.
- Peer evaluation: In addition to being judged by your instructor,
your talk will also be evaluated by your fellow students
according to criteria shown in the
(you should download and print this form as needed).
This anonymous evaluation by your peers will give you feedback on how well
you conveyed your message to your audience. Peer reviews should be handed to
the instructor after class in an envelope
with the evaluator's name and signature on the outside but not on the evaluation form.
Peer reviews will be accepted only from students who were present for the entire
talk being reviewed, and make up part of your class participation grade. When writing your
comments, please consider
how you would feel to receive the comments you are making; your instructor reserves
the right not to forward to speakers anonymous reviews that contain comments that
he considers unprofessional. You should also keep in mind that the quality of your
review of other students' talks influences your final grade, since the grade you get
for your review contributes to the "class participation".
Grade ingredients (percentages):
The class participation grade has three contributions: attendance and participation (10%)
and review quality (12%).
The following table contains the approximate minimum number of points (for 100 points maximum) necessary
to achieve a given letter grade:
|grade ||A ||A- ||B+ ||B
||B- ||C+ ||C ||C- ||D |
|points ||90 ||85 ||80 ||76
||72 ||68 ||64 ||60 ||55 |
- Note: In order to fulfill FSU's Oral Communication Competency Requirement,
you must earn a C- or better in the course.
The only accepted method of submitting the
outlines and presentations is in the form of a computer file in a standard
(e.g. MS Powerpoint, OpenOffice, MSWord, TeX, pdf, postscript, html),
submitted into the Canvas assignments box.
Paper copies will not be accepted.
Outlines are due a week before your scheduled talk,
slides are due the day before your scheduled talk.
The Website can be reached via
- This course uses the FSU
Canvas utility. To get to the Canvas pages,
You will be prompted to enter
your ACNS username and password to log in. After having logged in,
you will be given a list
of all the courses for which you are registered and which use Canvas.
The Canvas site
will be used for submission of your outlines and presentations, as well as for announcements
and for student discussion, You can also use it for
intermediate storage of your presentation files before submission.
English Communication for Scientists (Scitable by Nature Education)
Using Equation Editor with Powerpoint
- University of Waterloo
advice on Equation Editor
- Equation editor
tips and tricks
How to write a short paper and
How to Give Short Talks (by Michael Morrison, Univ. of Oklahoma)
- Talk hints (HDW)
- How to givesuccessful oral and poster presentations (European Federation of Catalysis Societies),
- A collection of
science websites where you might find inspiration
(go there to find hints about giving talks,..)
useful FSU links
(find FSU general links, FSU course related links, FSU computing,..)
Here follow a few additional statements which by FSU rules have to be part of a syllabus
ADA statement (Americans With Disabilities Act):
Students with disabilities needing academic accommodations should:
(a) register with, and provide documentation to, the Student Disability Resource
Center (SDRC); and
(b) bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type.
This should be done during the first week of class.
For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities,
Student Disability Resource Center:
874 Traditions Way 108
Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice) (850) 644-8504 (TDD)
Resource Center's web site .
Students are expected to uphold the Academic Honor Code published in
The Florida State University Bulletin
and in the Student Handbook.
Academic Honor System of Florida State University
is based on the premise that each student has the
The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University's expectations
for the integrity of students' academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations
of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members
throughout the process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for
living up to their pledge to ". . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal
and institutional integrity at Florida State University."
(Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at
- to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity in the student's own work,
- to refuse to tolerate violations of academic integrity in the University community, and
- to foster a high
sense of integrity and social responsibility on the part of the University community.
- In particular, the use of material from someone else's presentation or publication
without citation is considered plagiarism.
University Attendance Policy:
Excused absences include documented illness, deaths in the family and other documented crises,
call to active military duty or jury duty, religious holy days, and official University activities.
These absences will be accommodated in a way that does not arbitrarily penalize students
who have a valid excuse. Consideration will also be given to students whose dependent children
experience serious illness.
Free Tutoring from FSU:
On-campus tutoring and writing assistance is available for many courses at Florida
State University. For more information,
visit the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) Tutoring Services' comprehensive
list of tutoring options - see
http://ace.fsu.edu/tutoring or contact
more information. High-quality tutoring is available by appointment and on a walk-in basis.
These services are offered by tutors trained to encourage the highest level of individual
academic success while upholding personal academic integrity.
Syllabus Change Policy
Except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation (grading)
statement, this syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advance notice