Research project: Effective academic posters and poster exhibitions

By Peter Norrington

Academic posters and exhibitions look really simple, if you've never done one. Really, they offer opportunities to develop and present an interesting and complex interaction of skills.

Skills cover understanding the poster briefing, selecting topic and scope, identifying relevant material, writing to purpose and audience, making appropriate use of figures, designing layout, creating the artefact, presenting the poster at exhibition.

But what do we know about posters and exhibitions? How can we set appropriate poster and exhibition assessments? What do we need to provide to ensure that skills can be developed? How can posters be used with part-time and distance learners? How do learners benefit from posters? How are poster skills useful after graduation?

Scanning for literature, pedagogic or otherwise, there appears to be little in academic publications, and this is scattered. 'How-to' guides for poster creators are widespread, on higher education, commercial and personal interest websites. Yet few of these can be considered thorough, most lack depth, and some are contradictory.

And for those designing the brief for posters or exhibitions, there is even less.

This project addresses the purposes, outcomes and impacts of academic posters and poster exhibitions. It will create resources for use across the University, for students and staff.

Can this project help you?

Do you use – or want to use – academic posters and/or poster exhibitions?

  • – for formative or summative assessment?
  • – for other purposes?

Do you have experiences to share, successes to show, concerns or complaints to air (confidentially, of course) or students to offer as participants?

Contact to get involved or for more information.

About Peter

As a teacher in pre-tertiary education, I have often been involved in poster and poster-like activities, as educating and persuading others are skills UK school students are encouraged to develop. I have also been involved in community publishing, where I developed, somewhat untutored, skills in page and advertising design.

I was assessed through an academic poster and exhibition as part of my Masters in 2004. I thought it was an excellent experience, and a relevant form of assessment. I became involved with the Research Poster Exhibition at the start of my PhD in 2005, as a requirement of the PhD to present a poster, through supporting the training to research students with the then trainer, and by accidental and significant involvement with the exhibition organisation. Since then, I have been regularly involved in research student poster training, and the organisation of the Research Poster Exhibition the Teaching and Learning Symposium, and their integration into the University of Bedfordshire Conference.


Academy for Learning and Teaching Excellence
University of Bedfordshire
University Square
Luton, Bedfordshire