Speech Communication

 

Speech Communication Discipline Report for the ASL Committee (Spring 2008)

 

            The Speech Communication Discipline (SPCH) has been divided into three areas, according to the classes taught by the existing instructors: (I) Rhetorical Studies, (II) Communication Studies, and (III) Media Studies and Technology. Therefore, for Learning Objectives #1 and #2, this report will be divided into three parts accordingly; each part will provide the results of their students’ learning assessments and its own recommendations. In a part IV, Learning Objective #3 will be assessed for the first time ever by the discipline.

The assignments assessed in this task were drawn from upper level classes in the major. The scale of five was generally practiced (5= excellent, and 0= fail). Please keep in mind that each area may have their own difference in assessment details because of the nature of each area, but they have come up with the results and recommendations that will help determine the directions of the areas and the discipline as a whole. The data in this assessment report are the written assignments, as available, done by the students in the major who graduated in spring 2007. (Throughout the major, students are asked to create personal portfolios, which are evaluated collectively during the senior year.)

 

I. Rhetorical Studies

 

            Because there are two faculty members in this area, there will be two sections in this area: (A) Prof. Mary Elizabeth Bezanson’s assessment and (B) Prof. Neil Leroux’s assessment. The details are below.

A. Learning Objective #1: Prof. Mary Elizabeth Bezanson’s Assessment

Prof. Mary Elizabeth Bezanson is the one who did this assessment; based on Learning Objectives #1 (Students will develop an historical and theoretical understanding of rhetoric.). The details of this assessment can be described below.

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, two expected outcomes of Learning Objectives #1 were addressed: (1) students will be provide information regarding a classical/medieval rhetoric figure and that individuals rhetoric theory, (2) students will demonstrate a sensitivity to the historical dimensions of theory building, (3) students will be able to theoretically link rhetorical theory to a conception of the liberal arts.

Data and Criteria for Assessing

Data were drawn from thirteen student pre-tests and twelve student post-tests SPCH/CMR 3101 History of Rhetoric from the Classical to Modern Periods and reviewed.  Pre-tests were administered on the first day of class, the post-test was given in the fourteenth week of the semester. The questions included from the tests for this assessment included:

(1) Provide a definition of “rhetoric.”
(2) Provide the name of a classical rhetorician.
(3) Name one feature of that person’s rhetorical theory.
(4) What feature of the historical context accounted for this person’s theory?
(5) Name one medieval or renaissance rhetorician.
(6) Name one feature of that person’s rhetorical theory.
(7) Define “liberal arts.”
(8) What is rhetoric’s relationship to the liberal arts?  Why is it important today?

Answers for these questions were rated on a three-tiered scale.  Exemplary answers received a + (plus sign), adequate answers garnered a √ (checkmark), and incorrect answers were given a – (minus sign).

Results

 

Pre-Test Scores

Post-Test Scores

(1) Provide a definition of “rhetoric.”

+ (0)
√ (2)
– (11)

+ (6)
√ (3)
- (3)

(2) Provide the name of a classical rhetorician.

+ (0)
√ (7)
- (6)

+ (1)
√ (10)
- (1)

(3) Name one feature of that person’s rhetorical theory.

+ (0)
√ (2)
- (11)

+ (2)
√ (8)
- (2)

(4) What feature of the historical context accounted for this person’s theory?

+ (0)
√ (1)
- (12)

+ (2)
√ (7)
- (3)

(5) Name one medieval or renaissance rhetorician

+ (0)
√ (1)
- (12)

+ (0)
√ (12)
- (0)

(6) Name one feature of that person’s rhetorical theory.

+ (0)
√ (0)
- (13)

+ (0)
√ (12)
- (0)

(7) Define “liberal arts.”

+ (0)
√ (5)
- (8)

+ (1)
√ (8)
- (3)

(8) What is rhetoric’s relationship to the liberal arts?  Why is it important today?

+ (1)
√ (2)
- (10)

+ (7)
√ (3)
- (2)

The two questions that received the most exemplary (+) answers on the post-test were questions 1 (Provide a definition of rhetoric) and 8 (What is rhetoric’s relationship to the liberal arts?).  These two questions also showed the most improvement from the pre-test.  Students also showed vast improvement in being able to name one classical rhetorician and one medieval or renaissance rhetorician.  Question 7 (Define liberal arts) had the least improvement. Overall, student scores improved, as the total number of – (minus) answers for the post-test were significantly lower than the pre-test. 

Recommendations

Instruction in the course functions well to move students from almost complete ignorance about historical rhetorical figures.  Gains also have been made in the link between a given figure and the historical context in which he lived.  Work needs to continue in defining the liberal arts and in showing the embedded nature of rhetoric within the liberal arts.

 

 

(B) Learning Objective #2: Prof. Neil Leroux ‘s Assessment

 

Prof. Neil Leroux is the one who did this assessment, based on Learning Objective #2 (“The students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to…rhetoric…to describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse.”). The details of his assessment can be described below.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, the expected outcome of Learning Objective #2 was addressed:The students will be able to choose from a variety of methods to describe and evaluate a specific act or artifact.”

 

Data and Criteria for Assessing

Six papers—all from SPCH 3211 (Public Address)—were assessed on three criteria: (1) ability to cite sources, (2) ability to paraphrase the message from the sources, and (3) ability to analyze the discourse. 

 

Results

The results were given according to the types of criteria. The details are given below:

(1)  Ability to cite sources—students averaged 3.9 of 5.0.

(2)  Ability to paraphrase the message from the sources—students averaged 5.0 of 5.0

(3)  Ability to analyze the discourse—students averaged 4.9 of 5.0.

 

 

Citing

Paraphrasing

Analyzing

6 Papers

3.9

 

 

5.0

4.9

 

Recommendations

For program adjustments, students need to be trained again on the importance of adhering to bibliographic style. Specifically, all students will be taught to include the Works Cited page in their papers.

 

Remarks: None

 

II. Communication Studies

Due to a faculty vacancy, this component was not assessed this year.

 

III. Media Studies and Technology

 

Prof. Barbara Burke did this assessment. The details of this assessment can be described below.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, learning objective (#2) was addressed: "The students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to…electronic mass media to describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse." The expected outcome was stated by our assessment documents as: "The students will be able to choose from a variety of methods to describe and evaluate a specific act or artifact."

 

Data and Criteria for Assessing

Throughout the major, students create personal portfolios that are evaluated collectively during the senior year.  Scholarly journal article critique papers from SPCH 3301, Media Theory, were collected for this review. Data described in this study reflects the work of the "class of 2008," including papers written in 2005, 2006, and 2008.   (SPCH 3301 was not taught in 2007, when the instructor was on sabattical).

 

Fourteen papers were analyzed in 2008. The learning objective/expected outcome became identified as comprised by the following specific criteria:

(1)  Ability to cite sources in proper style and format

(2)  Ability to use one's own words to describe the major issues/ arguments/ themes of the article

(3)  Ability to identify and summarize an application of a selected research method

(4)  Ability to identify and describe the relevant communication theory studied

(5)  Ability to write a critical discussion, evaluating the research study conducted by the journal article author.

 

Results

Each criteria was evaluated by a 5 point scale (5= excellent, 0= fail). Each paper was given an average score. Average scores ranged from 3.4 to 5. The "class average" for all averaged scores-calculated to find a "typical" paper"--was 4.5. Specific criteria averages were also studied, to identify areas of strengths and areas needing improvement. Averages for the “class of ’08 ” are summarized below

 

 

Citing

Writing

Method

Theory ID

Evaluation

SPCH 3301

 

4.3

 

4.3

 

4.6

 

4.7

 

4.5

 

Evaluation and Recommendations

(1)  Citation style and basic writing skills seem to have diminished.  We adopted a newer version of the style manual two years ago, and it is used in fewer courses in the major.  It may be time to consider spending more class time on basic writing instruction.

(2)  Student writing proficiency may also be tied to the level of integration between this course and the Human Communication Theory course.  At one point the two classes has a series of comparable writing assignments (journal article critique, annotated bibliography, research proposal.)  The combination between the courses gave students more opportunities to write these papers and receive feedback leading to improvement.  Possibly if we are permitted to refill our previous tenure-line position and to hire a permanent faculty member to teach the Human Communication area, we can once again integrate assignments to improve student writing in the major.

(3)  Student identification of relevant media theories in research articles increased significantly from 2006 summary levels.  A newer text and more unit exams were adopted for ’06 and ’08 offerings of SPCH 3301—and this data seem to indicate the changed text was a better selection. 

(4)  Student evaluation of scholarly arguments decreased slightly in score, from 4.8 to 4.6 .  Critical thinking and evaluation is valued greatly by the discipline.  Success in this domain (reviewing and evaluating research studies) may rather be more reflected in work done later in the major, e.g., the senior seminar capstone experience than in the reviewed materials, often written during majors’ sophomore or junior years in the curriculum..

 

IV. Speech Communication Senior Seminar Presentations

 

Learning Objective #3

 

Professor Mary Elizabeth Bezanson completed the assessment based on this objective using data provided by the three 2007-2008 faculty in Speech Communication:  “The student will participate in a variety of oral communication assignments using informative and persuasive speaking techniques effectively.” Based on a lack of inter-coder reliability, this assessment was dropped for this year.