2009 Focus Group - Speech
Some questions from the original questionnaire weren't used because the responses were integrated in earlier discussion. Below are the specific questions they answered and brief summary of the original report.
General Impressions of General-Education Requirements (GER)
What are the benefits of general-education requirements in preparing YSU students to be productive and responsible citizens?
Although students should be well-rounded after taking the GERs, students don't appreciate or understand the rationale. GERs expose students to diversity of people andideas. An orientation that prepares students for their education would be helpful; they discussed SOAR, which is overburdened as it is .
One noted that GERs provide a framework for understanding the world; they are a microcosm of the world. Students often change their majors based on what they've experienced in GERs; these classes can help students to become more affiliated with the University.
Communication is essential, regardless of one's discipline.
What are the challenges of the GER in preparing YSU students to be productive and responsible citizens?
Students think they know what they want to do, and the GERs are an impediment, in their way to their chosen fields. Since the GERs are so unconnected, it's hard to convince students that there is a good reason to take them seriously. Students think of themselves as customers; they expect the University (and faculty) to serve their wants properly. These courses are expensive; students don't know why they have to pay for them.
In Communications 1545, three topics are covered (interpersonal, small group, and speech), and the sections work together; they cover the same material; their department is welcoming and supportive.
GERs are often large classes, so students feel lost.
Specific Questions about Speech Courses
YSU students should demonstrate an ability to speak effectively. How well do you think the courses that you teach help students to do so?
They believe that COMST 1545 works very well; it is standardized and coordinated well. They see improvement as the semester progresses. They meet their goals. Since enrollment is limited to 20 students, they have time to work closely with students.
The faculty are both full and part-time; they work together to revise the curriculum as needed.
They incorporate, among other things, extemporaneous speaking, informative speech, journaling, interpersonal communication. Students select their topics and are free to speak up in class.
Volunteer opportunities that are part of the class are working somewhat less well, but they're working on it.
What challenges are you facing in the courses that you teach to meet the learning outcome of speaking effectively?
Some students fear public speaking; reflective thinking and critical thinking are tough for some of them, too. Students come in with various skill sets; some course expectations are not taught in the class. Faculty assume that students can write an outline or create a list of sources. Technology is changing rapidly for speech courses, and it's hard to find time to prepare students. Sometimes equipment breaks down, or students don't supply their DVDs.
Students challenge their teachers' right to grade them, accusing them of bias and subjectivity. The course covers a lot of ground, and it can be hard to keep students moving.
The GER committee realizes that a that the current general-education assessment of speech courses is not providing them with the kind of information that they need to assess learning. .
They mentioned the e-portfolio and noted that it would be very useful if all students could upload their speeches and review their progress through the course--and the rest of their majors. They felt that students should be required to make a speech in their capstones and that they should be assessed using the eight competencies used in 1545. They suggest campus-wide work toward consistency in assessing speaking.
Are there any general comments that you would like to share?
They were asked to include interpersonal communication and small group communication in the class and wondered how important this is to the GEC. Does the GEC have suggestions about target audiences for 1545 speeches?
They like the current structure and direction of 1545; they use standardized tests and the same textbook and find this very helpful.