Focused Inquiry Group (FIG) College Wide Learning Goal: Communication – SPEAKING Fall 2010 Communicaton Studies 1 christine warda Although the focus of this group was on the goal of Communication, our primary interest was in public speaking. Certainly, if we truly want our students to be strong communicators, we should include other aspects (besides talking) to this discussion in the future – namely, listening, nonverbal communication, conflict management, leadership, etc. What I did For this task, I wanted to see how much progress my students were making mid-term for this CWLG. Since their persuasive speech is mid-way through the semester and the largest percentage of the grade for my Communication Studies 1 class, I thought this would be a good assignment for assessment. Instead of selecting one section, I felt it would be better to assess all 3 sections this Fall. This was more interesting because I have one morning, one afternoon, and one evening section. I was curious if the time/day of the class meeting impacted their scores. I used the holistic rubric that was created this semester. It was helpful in many ways, but I felt that I had to make compromises with some items. For example, the rubric listed logic, organization and delivery in each category – so their thesis, use of voice, and transitions were all to be assessed with one number. Many of my students had a clear thesis or strong transitions or a clear strong voice, but maybe not all three, so I had to value one higher than the other to fit them nicely into one of the numbers. Results When I began this project, I anticipated that most of my students would be somewhere between a 2 and a 3 (developing and competent). I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of ‘4’s and only one ‘1’ in all classes. In the MW afternoon section, I had 11 students at the level of ‘2’ and 9 students at the level of ‘3’ – so 20 of 25 students were where I had thought they were. 3 students did not complete the assignment in a timely fashion (which I thought was great for an afternoon class – both my morning and evening sections had higher numbers of NS). The TR morning section had 4 NS, four scores of ‘2,’ 13 scored at a level of competence, and 4 were accomplished. So 17 of 25 students in this section were at a level of 3 or 4. Typically, students who take class at 9am are pretty driven, so this number did not surprise me. Finally, in my evening section, six students didn’t complete the assignment on time (1/4 of the class!) which was a huge disappointment for me. However, 13 of 25 students were at a competent or accomplished level (3 or 4). Whereas, my afternoon section didn’t score as high as they other sections, they were almost all present for the assignment: some highs and lows for each section. What I Learned and Recommendations Most students at this point in the semester are at a developing or competent level in their Public Speaking. I know that there is a huge opportunity for the Communication Studies Lab to assist students and get more of them to the level of competency and accomplishment. I also learned that I am requiring a rough draft on this assignment again. (I had taken it away this semester to see the impact of it and it is SO necessary!) Overall, this project was helpful in prompting a good college-wide discussion of Communication skills…but as long as this campus continues to believe that Communication = Speech, we will not make progress on true Communication skills development.