Newman University hosts a Scholars Day each semester during finals week in order to give upperclassmen an opportunity to showcase their knowledge and presentation skills.
Given the sudden and unexpected circumstances of a pandemic, last semester’s Scholars Day was canceled. This semester, however, organizers had more time to prepare for and carry out a virtual form of the event.
Associate Professor of Education Huachuan Wen, Ph.D., is one of the organizers for Scholars Day. He provided a brief description of the event.
“Scholars Day has been an in-person community event on Newman’s campus until the pandemic hit in the spring,” said Wen. “Poster presentations would be conducted in a hallway (of either Eck Hall or the Bishop Gerber Science Center) and oral presentations would be held in classrooms.”
Moving the event to a virtual setting required a large amount of communication and coordination.
Wen said, “The Scholars Day subcommittee and the Newman Studies Program committee started the discussion regarding the format during the summer. Both committees were actively involved in the decision-making process, which led to the final action plan.”
It was decided that “this semester’s Scholars Day (would be) held on Zoom, for the first time,” said Wen. “The obvious reason was due to the impact of the rampant pandemic. The date was the same as in the catalog. Eighty students presented and were evaluated by 40 assessors, which included both faculty and staff members, from 9 a.m. to noon.”
Wen said the format of the day’s events looked very different from past Scholars Days, but overall the day went smoothly and everyone involved seemed to be OK with the changes.
“I scheduled and moderated the event. I pre-assigned all the participants into eight ‘breakout rooms’ on Zoom. All breakout rooms started at 9 a.m. and ended around 11:20 a.m., except the most populous breakout room that housed all the nursing students, which concluded at 12:20 p.m. The morning was divided into several twenty-minute sessions. Each presentation was done within twenty minutes, including Q&A.”
Wen said the experience was successful with students stepping up as always and presenting high-quality work.
Wen added a personal thank you the staff and faculty assessors for their hard work and collaboration, as well as the students for making a virtual Scholars Day possible.