Extended Investigation – Boosts Communication Skills

The VCE Extended Investigation subject equips students with the skills needed to succeed at university and business success.  Students select a study question and embark on an extended investigation of the question including sourcing academic, industry and empirical evidence.  The students write a 4000-word report and give a presentation of the report to a panel of assessors plus a question and answer session.

Students are honing the skills of articulating their ideas.  Embarking on in-depth research, supporting theories and contrary views, research methods and limitations.  Question time tests the student’s sound knowledge on the subject.  Does this sound a lot like haggling for budget or launching a new concept in the workplace?  Communication skills are valuable work skills we are expected to know but are rarely explicitly taught.  Students are given guidelines and expected to have the skills and confidence to speak like a professional presenter.

I recently had the pleasure of working with year 12 students at Box Hill High, developing their communication skills in preparation for their extended investigation presentation. How to structure a presentation, presenting findings in an engaging manner; answering questions; what to do if you can’t answer a question? How to increase eye contact; reduce note usage and use your voice as a power tool. In our three sessions together students shifted their mindset from negative self-focused to a growth mindset of audience-focused; the mindset of accomplished speakers.

A valuable communication lesson for the students is learning to write an in-depth report then condensing it into a concise 10-minute presentation. Students soon learn the difference between writing to be read and writing to be said. They learn the hard lesson of deciding what to present and what to leave out.  Keeping the flow and integrity of the message and assessment targets for the assessors.

Partnering with schools such as Box Hill High in developing student’s study and work ready communication skills is a rewarding part of my work.  In the years to come, these students will have the foundations to communicate their knowledge opening future opportunities.