Oral Communication: Course Rationale

[ including  Frequently Asked Questions ]

 

Oral communication as taught at Seton Hall represents a course structure  commonly referred to in the Speech Communication field as a "hybrid" basic As such, the course's goals are numerous and complex. This brief explanation of the course's rationale is being provided to clarify some of the conceptions people have about "speech" classes, in general,; and about COST1600, in particular. One of the most important things to realize is that our Oral Communication course is NOT the same as thing as Public Speaking.

* What are the objectives of a hybrid  basic speech course such as Oral Communication?   

   * If I'm not a communication major, why do I need to learn these things?  

* Why is Oral Communication required? [by most majors]   

*   What will you be expected to do in an Oral Communication  class?                                           

 * What aspects of Oral Communication will you be expected to carry over to: other courses? other aspects of your life?                                                                                                        

* Why are  there written assignments/tests, etc. in Oral Communication?                                      *

* Why are there differences among the ways  Oral Communication  classes are taught? 

* Why do I have to attend a performance at THEATER-IN-THE-ROUND ?

 


 

What are the objectives of a hybrid  basic speech course such as Oral Communication? Oral Communication strives to introduce learners to "everything" they need to know  about the forms of human interaction that involve such elements as: >basic communication principles and systems  > techniques of sending and receiving  messages in various formats  >cultural differences in behavior and interpretation  >listening skills, etc.

 

 

If I'm not a communication major, why do I need to learn these things?  All people communicate both with and without words.   In fact, approximately 80% of our daily activities are spent in some sort of oral communication activity (e.g. reporting, persuading, questions-and-answers, listening, responding,information sharing).  In addition the challenges of the contemporary world require even greater competence in these skills than ever before.  In order to operate more effectively in these areas, all individuals can benefit from increasing their understanding of process and improving their skills of performance.    The communication major goes on to specialize in a particular area but all learners need to build the same foundation.

 

 

Why is Oral Communication required? [by most majors]                                           Most major programs at SHU require this course and most students take it fairly early in their college careers. Studies over the last several decades have indicated a steadily  increasing workplace expectation that workers on all levels can:                (1)  express themselves orally and in writing, (2) listen effectively and (3) work well in groups/teams. Oral Communication provides an opportunity to be introduced to and get practice in these types of communication activity.

 

 

 

 What will you be expected to do in an Oral Communication  class?

What are the usual performance goals / developmental goals / interpersonal goals/ cultural goals   for someone enrolled in Oral Communication?  [ including communication apprehension]    

 re: performance: Overall, you can expect to have an active and interactive experience. In order to help you increase your competence in communicating orally, there will be brief speaking activities, prepared speaking activities, group/team work, classwork, etc. Consequently, attendance, preparation,  and class participation are important course requirements and are considered major criteria for your success in the course. You and your instructor will develop personalized individual goals for improving your oral communication skills.

re: development: Each person comes to the course with a different level of experience, poise and/or knowledge about oral communication. By means of  the activities and feedback received in the course, each individual will have an opportunity to work on moving to his/her next level of communication competency. Communication Apprehension ( i.e. "stage fright") is a major concern for many people taking oral communication courses.  In fact, 85-90% of people in North American culture report experiencing some level of apprehension about speaking situation. Your instructor will certainly address these issues in class.

re: interpersonal: Much of our time each day is spent in communication activities and most of that time is spent in "Interpersonal" oral  communication contexts [ e.g. conversations, interviews, discussions, brief encounters, teamwork] . As a hybrid course, Oral Communication is able to provide an introductory unit which explains  the basic ways in which such interpersonal communication differs from public speaking. The course also includes MANY activities in which you will interact with your classmates in interpersonal ways. 

re: cultural goals: One of the primary ways by which groups distinguish  themselves from other groups is by using distinctive communication patterns. In other words, our respective differences in using language, symbols, gestures, and the ways in they are interpreted  define culture.  Oral Communication provides a laboratory in which you can study, observe, experience and respect  the different ways in which "culture" is manifested.  

 

 

What aspects of Oral Communication will you be expected to carry over to: other courses? other aspects of your life?    

  Unlike other courses you may take, Oral Communication has obvious applications outside of that classroom.

(1) improved capabilities in your other courses--especially in terms of language / data organizationlistening comprehension /   oral  presentations / group work / cultural sensitivity;

(2) improved competence in the workplace--especially in terms of language / data organization / critical listening / adaptation-to-your-listeners / cultural sensitivitygroup-team work;

(3) improved harmony in relationships--especially  empathic listening / cultural sensitivity / language adaptation-to- your- listeners

Also refer to the document:  Oral Communication: Basic Terminology

 

 

Why are  there written assignments/tests, etc. in Oral Communication?     As has been explained in the sections above, the goals of Oral Communication include much more than the practice of performance skills. Upon completion of this course, the learner is also expected to know and understand underlying principles and strategies to be used now and in the future. The course's written work supplements the building of that knowledge base and provides the instructor with additional tools for determining  a learner's level of progress.

 

 

Why are there differences among the ways  Oral Communication  classes are taught?

Unlike the procedures at some  other institutions, at Seton Hall, all of the  instructors of COST1600  have completed graduate work in a relevant  subject and are experienced in teaching on the college level.   Individual areas of expertise include speech, theater/drama, rhetoric, forensics,  public affairs, and more. Consequently, each instructor brings something unique to the way he/she presents and moves through the standard Oral Communication course syllabus. Each  instructor bases his/her specific course syllabus, text choices, activities, and computer usage on the same basic course outline, and on his/her particular strengths. 

 

 

* Why do I have to attend a performance at THEATER-IN-THE-ROUND  ?  The Department of Communication is the producer for the 4-play production season known as THEATER-IN-THE-ROUND.{click for info on the current season} In addition to the department's financial support, these plays are directed, designed, and managed by Communication Department faculty.  In 1995, the department voted to require attendance at no less than one performance for each student enrolled in Oral Communication. This decision was based on  several factors including:           <a> wanting to ensure students' exposure to practical examples of the oral communication principles being studied in class <b> wanting to facilitate student support of a department in which they are taking a course <c> wanting to provide Oral Communication instructors with an additional opportunity for teaching/demonstrating vocal and physical techniques of oral communication. 

Your attendance at the performance is verified by completing and submitting a form which is distributed by the house manager at the end of the performance. These forms are reviewed and routed back to your Oral Communication instructor so that the/she can factor your attendance into the grading for the course.

 

 

 

 

by Dr. E..Plummer ( COST1600 Course Coordinator) updated 8/99,9/00