A decade ago, the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University prefaced its national report Reinventing Undergraduate Education with an “academic bill of rights.” Among the rights listed is “training in the skills necessary for oral and written communication at a level that will serve the student both within the university and in postgraduate and professional life.”
As have many universities, UNH has devoted many resources and invested much energy in improving the written communication skills of its graduates. The Writing Across the Curriculum program, the Writing Intensive requirement, and the Robert J. Connors Writing Center attest to this commitment. Training in oral communication has not received this kind of institution-wide attention.
In many courses faculty assign oral presentations as one way of having students learn material, as well as a means of assessing how well students are learning. Even more common are classes in which discussion is an important teaching and learning method. There is, in short, a lot of “speaking across the curriculum” at UNH, without a formal program to designate or require certain courses as “speaking intensive.”
If you want to learn more about using oral presentations or structured discussion in your classes, visit one or more of the following sites:
This is a very comprehensive site, including advice on preparing students for oral presentations, sample evaluation rubrics for oral presentations, public speaking tips for students, and much more.
This site lists and describes a variety of oral communication assignments and exercises that can be used in different course settings.
A listing of various tools for evaluating oral presentations and class discussions.
This site has links to a variety of resources for improving oral communication skills.