Scientific Presentations
The Assertion-Evidence Approach

Research on Slide Design

Effect of Slide Design on How Much the Audience Understands and Retains

Joanna Garner, Michael Alley, Keri Wolfe, and Lauren Sawarynski
International Journal of Engineering Education (vol. 29, no. 6, 2013)
2012 ASEE Annual Conference
2011 ASEE Annual Conference

Main Takeaway: Two audiences learned a technical subject by hearing the exact same words, but viewing different slides. One set of slides followed the common practice of slides in science and engineering: a topic-phrase headline supported by a bulleted list or a bulleted list and a graphic. The other set of slides followed the assertion-evidence structure of a sentence headline that states the main message of the slide (or scene). In this structure, that message headline is supported by visual evidence. This study found that the assertion-evidence audience understood and remembered the content better than the common-practice audience. In addition, the difference between the learning was statistically significant (p < .01).

Effect of Slide Design on How Much a Student Presenter Learns

Shannon Aippersbach, Michael Alley, and Joanna Garner,
2013 ASEE Annual Conference

Main Takeaway: This study found that student presenters who created a set of slides using the assertion-evidence approach understood the content better than student presenters who created the slides using the commonly followed topic-subtopic approach. The results of this study suggests that presenters using an assertion-evidence approach think more deeply about the content during the preparation of the slides than presenters following the typical approach.

Other Publications

Michael Alley and Kathryn A. Neeley, Technical Communication (November 2005)
Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides: The Assertion-Evidence Approach

Michael Alley, Madeline Schreiber, Katrina Ramsdell, and John Muffo, Technical Communication (May 2006)
How the Design of Headlines in Presentation Slides Affects Audience Retention

Joanna K. Garner, Michael Alley, Allen Gaudelli, and Sarah Zappe, Technical Communication (November 2009)
Common Use of PowerPoint versus the Assertion-Evidence Structure: A Cognitive Psychology Perspective

Leonhard Center, Penn State
University Park, PA 16802

Content Editor: Michael Alley