Tales of Justice

Alvernia students hone presentation skills at criminal justice conference

  • Alvernia Criminal Justice

An important part of academic work is presenting at conferences. It’s a way to share research and insights with other students, scholars and professionals while also gaining valuable public speaking skills.

In February, students and professors from the Alvernia University Criminal Justice program presented their academic papers at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA. ACJS is an international association that fosters professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justice. The annual meeting provides a forum for disseminating ideas related to issues in research, policy, education and practice within criminal justice.

The theme of the 2014 ACJS meeting was Perceptions of Crime and Justice. Bachelors in criminal justice students Marina Gillies and Ashley Jones, recent graduate Rhiannon Trate and graduate assistant Tracey L. Brown presented papers at the conference. These Alvernia students were the only undergraduates allowed to present at ACJS. Professors Peggy Bowen-Hartung, Edgar Hartung, Barry Harvey, Rosemary McFee and Tufan Tiglioglu also presented.

The conference provided opportunities for newcomers and established experts in criminal justice to connect and share ideas. It also gave first-time participants a chance to try out their presentation skills.

“I was anxious and nervous about presenting since it was my first time, but it turned out to be such a rush that it makes me want to write a whole new paper and present next year,” offers Gillies.

Gillies presented her paper, Eyewitness Identification: Fact or Fiction?, which summarizes the best-practice usage of eyewitness identification in the criminal justice system.

“Many people are incarcerated every year because they were picked out of a lineup and it is not because eyewitnesses lied, but were convinced that their memories were accurate,” she says, explaining that the majority of convictions overturned by DNA evidence involved eyewitness testimony.

Much of the presentation battle is won before a presenter hits the podium. By thoroughly examining their topics, presenters can be armed with the knowledge needed to clearly explain their research and answer any questions audience members may have.

Rehearsing the presentation several times before the conference can also alleviate some of the stress and anxieties that come with public speaking.

“Try rehearsing in front of family members, roommates, friends or even a professor and then ask them for any things they found that you could change,” Gillies advises. “It is always good to hear constructive criticism.”

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