Introducing the 3 Minute Assessment Talks! (3MAT)

September 18, 2023 Matthew Gulliford

Recently on my doctoral program, a professor told me I needed to be able to explain my research and engage an audience with no knowledge or experience of my work, in under 3 minutes. Pardon, me?!

Apparently, 3 minutes is kind of a big deal in Australia.  Originating at the University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an annual competition (now held in over 350 institutions worldwide) for PhD students from any discipline.  The rules: participants must explain their research effectively and coherently in under 3 minutes to an audience presumed to have no background or expertise in their field of research.

After many attempts presenting my research on UK vs U.S. assessment policies to my French Bulldog, Mr. Carson, I think I have finally mastered it (although he may disagree).  Suffice it to say, this was not an easy, or at times even enjoyable, process.  But, by the end, I was able to see the huge benefits this type of exercise cultivates – being able to explain a complex topic (which you are also personally invested in), both succinctly and persuasively, to an audience with limited time, knowledge, or even interest, is a tremendous skill to have at your disposal.

Therefore, I naturally started expanding the concept of the 3MT into other areas of my life…a personal favorite was for my husband on “Why We Need A Vitamix” which I performed exquisitely, resulting in an swift victorious purchase.  This got me thinking; what a great tool this would be for assessment coordinators!  When I managed the assessment of student learning at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY), I was frequently asked “how is assessment different from grading?” or “what is the difference between course and program assessment?”  Often, I only had a few minutes to answer such questions and did not always have a fancy powerpoint to save me; generally grabbing moments of opportune in the corridor, the dining hall, or at the end of a meeting.

Explaining different topics of assessment to colleagues who may have limited time, knowledge, or even interest, is not a simple task.  Thus, I decided to create a series of 3 Minute Assessment Talks (3MATs – you heard it here first!) which will focus on key areas of assessment that can sometimes be challenging to present expeditiously.  The first in the 3MAT series will look at the differences between course grades and learning outcomes assessment, which will be released later this week! Sign up here to receive blog updates below and feel free to email me with any specific areas of assessment you would like future 3MATs to focus on!

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