Senior Presentation of Learning
Strategy • Background • Next Steps • Available Resources
The Senior Presentation of Learning (POL) is a public presentation where each senior student reflects on their four years of service, educational experiences, and personal and vocational transformation brought about by participation in the Bonner program.
The Senior POL provides a unique opportunity for students to not only reflect on their undergraduate experiences, but also practice public speaking to a large audience, often comprised of fellow Bonners, parents, campus staff and faculty, community partners, and friends. Public presentations are a recognized high-impact practice, and this one provides students with an integrative learning opportunity, in which they can tie together the many threads of their college learning and experience, on and off campus.
Senior Presentations of Learning also serve as a testament to the work of Bonners and the important power of change that service engenders. The Senior POLs give the program as a whole an opportunity to highlight the tremendous student development that occurs within their four year experience.
Connection TO COMMUNITY IMPACT
Community partners, members of the community, and clients of organizations where students served are often invited and present during Bonners’ Senior POLs.
Community leaders are often recognized during these presentations for their role as co-educators in Bonners’ academic experience.
Additionally, as students prepare for their Presentation of Learning, they are encouraged to reflect with their community partners, providing a space for dialogue about progress and challenges over the last four years, as well as next steps.
Connection TO CAMPUS IMPACT
Campus staff, faculty, and student peers are invited by Bonners for their POLs so they can be recognized for their role in student development and transformation.
Presentations of Learning often also foster a sense of inspiration amongst campus staff and administrators as they witness the tremendous impact these students have had on the campus, and vice versa.
Furthermore, it is the hope that Senior POLs are not just limited to Bonners, but serve as a model for other students on campus to reflect upon their undergraduate journey and articulate it in a public presentation.
Given the developmental model underlying the Bonner Program, the Bonner Foundation sought to craft a cumulative reflective experience to challenge Bonner students in their last semester in the program to thoughtfully synthesize their four-year Bonner journey.
To prepare for the POL, students meaningfully synthesize their individual experiences on a broader scale in order to communicate can apply their academics and their co-curricular experiences to affect change on campus and in their community.
As a result, the Senior Presentations of Learning (POL) is both a process and an event for Bonners to reflect on their four years of service and educational experiences and to articulate personal transformations brought about by participation in the Bonner Program while anticipating their place in the world after graduation. Though the foundation of content for Senior POLs remains the same, each Bonner program has adapted the guidelines of the presentation to best fit the culture of their program and students. Senior Presentations of Learning have taken on the form of formal public speeches, a digital story, slideshow presentations, team-based performances, presentations of an original written piece or vision board, among others.
Campuses also vary in the method that they choose to embed the Senior Presentations of Learning into the program and academic schedule. At Oberlin College, Bonner seniors’ POLs are staggered throughout their final semester, so that three or four students present a speech or slideshow presentation to their peers each month. At Christopher Newport University, all seniors present as part of an annual, formal Bonner Senior Gala, attended by Bonners, parents, community partners, friends, and the college president. At Ursinus College, Bonner seniors present their POLs during the college’s Celebration of Student Achievement, a day dedicated to celebrating student research and contributions throughout the year.
With all Bonner Programs incorporating this cornerstone activity in some fashion, our goal is to improve each program’s senior POL so that it reflects best practices of a) intensive, critical reflection over four years, b) public speaking, and c) a public event that raises awareness to the incredible work of Bonners and pervasive impact of student community and civic engagement.
We have held up the Senior Presentations of Learning at the University of Richmond as a model for other campuses that incorporates a significant number of best practices. Richmond’s POLs occur over four separate nights in late March and early April. Each night 5-8 seniors with a common social issue focus with each Bonner speaking for 10-15 minutes. Preparation for these presentations include an overnight senior retreat, review of all of their twenty-four prior written reflections (three per semester for all four years), and individual coaching meetings with Bonner staff and the university’s speech center. Bonners at the University of Richmond write a culminating reflection to accompany their public presentation, which can take the form of digital stories or interactive exercises with the audience. The POLs are all recorded and connected back to the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement’s (BCCE) assessment strategy for tracking student progress and impact.
On our Bonner wiki, you may find a significant number of resources to support implementation of a Senior Presentation of Learning including:
- Recommendations on how to prepare students to complete a Senior Presentation of Learning;
- Sample questions to aid in students’ reflection;
- Examples of Senior Presentations of Learning from a number of our Bonner programs, such as Sewanee’s Digital Stories;
- How to Guides and rubrics to aid in crafting digital stories or formal written reflections.