2019 Advanced Technical Communication Skills I

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Civil Engineering
Stewart David-Butler  Chijiwa Nobuhiro  Takemura Jiro 
Course component(s)
Lecture / Exercise     
Day/Period(Room No.)
Tue1-2(緑が丘M6-緑が丘ホール, M6 Bldg., Midorigaoka Hall)  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
Access Index

Course description and aims

This is a small interactive oral presentation course team-taught in English by three instructors in seminar style.
Successful journal articles comprise a uniform format, while conference presentations in PPT or similar formats depend on logical skills that can be learned. Such presentations also suffer from a range of common errors in slide composition. These— whether language- or picture-based— can be recognized and thus largely avoided.
Students will progress at different rates in accordance with their English-language skills and their willingness to challenge themselves and change former habits.
Aims of the course are:
(a) Shortening the time needed to obtain a reasonable overview of an academic article in any field
(b) Improving readability and delivery of short slide-based oral presentations
(c) Broadening the effective ability of each student, at his or her own pace, to exchange information with fellow classmates or the group at large.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:
(a) Assess the usefulness of a journal article written in English in their field.
(b) Design a PPT or equivalent graphic presentation that effectively communicates their research aims and results.
(c) Request and provide information in a small semi-public group setting in English.


English reading skills, English presentation skills, information exchange, logical thinking, graphic design, content assessment, isolating research aims and making them more specific

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Weekly attendance is compulsory. Discussion is continuous and the only "lectures" are by visitors to Tokyo Tech, who may agree from time to time to present their own work and research.
Workshop format (article or topic for presentation changes every two/ three weeks, depending on the size of the class: usually 12 to 25 active participants).

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Course introduction and oral self-introductions (in English) by each participant, including research aims of lab and/or individual student. Ability to make oneself heard and understood in basic English
Class 2 ATCS I begins the second week with a three-slide oral self-introduction as an icebreaker— with graphic and verbal skills pointed out. Logically coherent thinking and self-expression
Class 3 Continuation of illustrated introduction based on self-criticism and assessment on the part of the group at large (workshop mode) Grammar, punctuation, logical sequencing is increasingly emphasized.
Class 4 Refinement of this process via repetition and comparison— with students taking the lead in suggesting improvements Understanding that certain "rules" apply—first among which are logic and consistency
Class 5 Selection of first Research Paper for Student Self-Presentation with emphasis on Abstract, paper organization, and charts/ illustrations on Abstract and logical construction. Research publication follows a single invariable scheme
Class 6 Continue research paper presentation with give-and-take about what is important and essential How carefully does a paper follow the model?
Class 7 Continue research paper presentation. How much can you understand, even when the topic is somewhat distant from your own field? How best to deploy time and effort to achieve basic comprehension?
Class 8 Second Research Paper for Student Self-Presentation Idem
Class 9 (cont'd. as above) Idem
Class 10 (cont'd. as above) Idem
Class 11 Third Research Paper for Student Self-Presentation Idem
Class 12 (cont'd. as above) Idem
Class 13 (cont'd. as above) Idem
Class 14 Wrap-up and assessment. No final examination. Instead, each student is asked to make a three-slide presentation regarding future research. How to consolidate and build on newly acquired skills for application in further study
Class 15 Continue and finalize wrap-up presentations and overall assessment of individual participant skills along with those of the group as a whole. Build a group-dynamic: based on shared, task-oriented, individual English oral presentations


No textbook, instead materials are journal reprints and/or PDFs with emphasis on student-devised PPT presentations
Each student is requested to bring a laptop computer (or handheld device)— so as to be able to connect with Internet in class.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

A single half-sheet that lists the five basic questions answered by a correctly presented research paper in any field whatsoever should be committed to memory.

Assessment criteria and methods

In-class activities backed by adequate home-based preparation account for some 70% of evaluation. It is the rate of student self-based application— and your individual progress— which is most important rather than any absolute level of achievement.
Remaining 30% is assessed on simple willingness to participate in interpersonal and group exchanges, even when this involves "being wrong." A student unwilling to assess the contributions of others (or who remains silent) will receive a lower evaluation.

Related courses

  • CVE.P432 : International Collaboration II
  • CVE.P433 : International Internship I

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

An open-mind and a willingness to take risks in discarding previous assumptions about learning and comprehension

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