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Posters display text and visual information on a single page, board or screen.  They offer students the chance to present academic work visually, spatially and concisely. Posters can be exhibited and shared in classrooms, public spaces and digital environments. This method involves supporting students in the design of posters, particularly as it might be a new experience for students to represent academic work using graphics and spatial organisation.

Advantages of posters

  • Can be combined with other activities, such as presentations, reports, essays, projects or student conferences.

  • Offers the opportunity to communicate with a wider audience. Students can easily present work to peers and interested members of the institution via a public exhibition.

  • Creates opportunities for collaboration and peer review. Students can create posters jointly and they can review each other’s work. One method of achieving this is to provide a feedback form that can be completed for each poster by reviewers.

  • Provides an authentic experience. Poster design and presentation are likely to be activities that student will engage in after they complete their degree.

Challenges of posters

  • Students may struggle initially to create posters that are both academic and visually appealing. One tendency, for students who work primarily in written forms (essays, exams, reports) is to make posters too text heavy.

  • Students may not have prior experience using image-based material for academic purposes.

  • This format may require more support, initially, from the course convenor to help students understand what is expected.

  • Possible need for technical guidance/support for students and teachers.

How students might experience posters

Students tend to be quite positive about poster assessment because it can offer them space to be creative with their academic work. This assessment method can help students distil complicated ideas into key points and makes it easier to for them to communicate their work to others. Posters also help students see the potential of visual texts for communication and as elements of research.

Reliability, validity, fairness and inclusivity of posters

By aligning the assessment of the poster with the course learning outcomes the process can be made transparent and fair to the student and the marker. Determine clear marking criteria in advance – think about the sort of academic work that the posters will be exhibiting and what is expected of students.  If the desired standards are articulated and illustrated, and students understand how they can achieve these (via text, image, design, layout, referencing, etc.), then they are more likely to attain a sufficiently academic and creative level of communication. It may also help to provide guidance about expectations regarding how material should be structured; referencing conventions, and what is expected in terms of approximate word count, font and image size. Where possible it is worth providing exemplar posters that address aspects of the marking criteria but are from different academic fields.

How to maintain and ensure rigour in posters

Combining posters with oral presentations can enhance the academic rigour of the assignment, by giving students more than one medium to demonstrate their abilities. If you use a presentation component, or a question-and-answer session, consider what a moderator or external examiner might need to evaluate the process (is a recording feasible, or useful?). Teachers should follow departmental marking and moderation practice, including assessing posters with more than one marker if needed, as this can bolster the consistency and reliability of the marking.

How to limit possible misconduct in posters

One strength of posters is that it is possible to see the development of work over time, particularly if students are required to submit plans/drafts and speak about their work. This makes plagiarism less likely. Additionally, many students find the creative opportunities afforded by posters appealing and they are motivated to develop their ideas and articulate their findings through the production of original work.

LSE examples

Further resources

Miller, J and Trainor, J. Creating Anthropology Conference Posters: A Guide for Beginners

O’Neill, G. and Jennings, D. (2012) The use of posters for assessment: a guide for staff


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