Past Events

Past Winners of Poster Design Contest

Past University Writing and Research Conference Programs

Spring 2013
Fall 2012
Spring 2012
Fall 2011
Spring 2011

Past Symposia Programs




Both audience and presenters at a scholarly public forum such as the University Writing and Research Conference can benefit from some reflection on the role that audience feedback plays in such an event.

ASKING QUESTONS: In the Audience

Ainur Aitbayeva asks a question. 2007 University Writing and Research Symposium.

The Role of the Audience in the Public Sphere

An audience member at a scholarly public forum is not simply expected to sit back and listen. Their job is to actively — provocatively — work toward a dialogue in which audience and presenters together explore topics,  issues, and problems.

What Is a “Good” Question?

A “good” question opens discussion rather than close it off. And good questions come out of engaged, active listening. As you listen and take notes, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What have you learned? How has this presenter or session challenged what you thought you knew about a topic?

  2. What’s behind or beyond this presentation? What larger histories, broader theories, or wider range of experience does the session gesture toward?

Strategies for Constructing a Question

From these questions you ask yourself, you can then construct questions to pose to the presenter(s) or your peers in the audience. How?

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Presenter Praveen Savalgi discusses his poster with a member of the audience. 2007 University Writing and Research Symposium.

The Role of the Presenter in the Public Sphere

Public scholarship, is some sense, is simply an excuse to prompt dialogue and future scholarship. The questions you get at your presentation can be understood, generously, in that light.

What Is a “Good” Question?

Some questions may ask you to elaborate on work you’ve done but didn’t have time to include. (Savvy presenters often drop verbal footnotes that lament their limited time and suggest taking up some matter “in the Q&A”).

With any luck, the audience, the moderator, or your co-presenters will push you to consider other approaches, examples, or emphases you haven’t yet considered  -- whether by choice or through blissful ignorance. Such questions invite you to think out loud, improvising your part in a scholarly exchange: a frightening, but ultimately exhilarating prospect.

Strategies for Anticipating Questions and Improvising Responses