Students may hold their defense in-person, virtually, or hybrid. Technology adds an extra layer to a virtual or hybrid defense and we want you to be successful. Below are some tips to help you hold a successful virtual defense.
The School of Graduate Studies approved Master’s and Ph.D. defenses to be done virtually via Zoom.
Scheduling Your Zoom Defense
Zoom links can be included on the Preliminary Approval and Notice of Defense form.
Please notify Staci Ortiz to make modifications to your defense schedule. Advisors and students should work with department chairs and graduate program directors to ensure that all parties involved in the defense(s) have access to the technology necessary to conduct defenses in real-time synchronous fashion.
Zoom Defense Tips
- Assign someone on the committee-not the student defending-to setup, manage, and moderate the Zoom call so that the student doesn’t have to manage that extra potential stress. Make sure that the committee provides for extra time and backups in case things go wrong. Set up the connection early (15+ minutes) and ask the committee to show up early to check everything is working. Have one of more backups including something as simple as a phone based conference call.
- If the defense incorporates a presentation, ask all committee/audience participants to mute themselves at the start or have the committee member managing the call mute them all centrally. It's easy to forget you aren't muted and unintentionally interrupt the candidate.
- A Zoom defense will be new territory for many; as such, having committee and audience members using video is especially important—barring bandwidth issues—so that the candidate, to the degree possible can see audience reactions. This will be especially important during the private portion of the defense, with just the committee members. Audience and committee members should consider exaggerating your positive responses; clear head nods, thumbs up, big smiles, can all help mimic the normal positive audience cues and non-verbal feedback of an in-person defense. Giving a presentation without clear audience response can be really difficult. Of course, if there are bandwidth issues, the committee member managing the call should alert everyone and ask for audience members to stop their video until the issue is resolved. And in the event that the candidate prefers to not see the audience, that can also be accommodated.
- As technology access allows, a candidate can use a 2 monitor setup that will let them see those attending the talk plus their slides and notes. You can show a whole screen of faces—using gallery view--on the second monitor. During Q & A, the 'hand raise' function can help prevent voice collisions: the committee moderator can help manage this.
- When it comes time for the student to “step out of the room” while committee members deliberate, one option is to have the committee member managing the Zoom conversation put the student “on hold.” Committee members might also move “out of the room” for a brief separate conference call or Zoom conversation.
- Final revision feedback in these extra stressful times should clearly distinguish
- Recommendations for changes required prior to submitting final paperwork (e.g. final report)
- Recommendations for changes required for the thesis or dissertation prior to ProQuest submission
- Recommendations for further development of the thesis/dissertation post-graduation
This DocuSign form does not need to be included when publishing/submitting to ProQuest. As always, when submitting to ProQuest, you have the option to include a blank document with no signatures, or you can try to obtain signatures from a distance by asking faculty to, each in turn, print, sign, and scan the document.
The Final Report on Candidate is to be initiated by the chair of the thesis/dissertation committee.