The University of Dayton is implementing a new communication course in order to replace the required communication modules.
The current modules, classes CMM 110-113, which include Public Speaking, Interviewing and Group Decision Making, will be replaced with CMM 100, Principles of Oral Communication.
This required course will instruct people on how to explain complex topics to non-experts, ethically advocate a position, engage in civil dialogue about controversial topics and critique the spoken messages of others, according to Joe Valenzano, assistant professor and basic course director for the communication department.
Valenzano said CMM 100 is currently in its third semester running as a pilot and will be the mandatory communication course for incoming freshmen beginning this fall. Current students who already started the current communication modules will have to complete the courses and cannot take CMM 100 as an alternative. Current students who have not yet started taking any of the CMM modules can choose whether to take CMM 100 or the modules.
The communication department will discontinue Group Decision Making after spring 2014 and the two public speaking courses will be discontinued following the spring 2015 semester. The department will continue to offer Interviewing on a limited basis for the foreseeable future.
Heather Parsons, director of advising for communication, said students weren’t using the modules to their benefit.
“For the previous CMM modules, we wanted to teach these communication skills and offer the courses to students when they needed them,” Parsons said. “However, we have gotten some complaints from professors and students that courses weren’t being taken seriously.”
Parsons said the department first began reforming the communication requirement in fall 2010 as part of the university’s new Common Academic Program. Since then, the department performed extensive research and consulted other academic departments on what they wanted in a communication class and what skills students were lacking.
In spring 2012, the first pilot course of CMM 100 was implemented and the class has continued to be tweaked and evaluated since then.
According to Valenzano, who was hired as CMM 100’s course director, the department looked at student responses, surveys and reactions to the pilots when developing the course. In addition, a CMM 100 advisory board was formed containing representatives from every UD college to provide feedback on the course. Each representative signed up for a time slot to observe the course for one week to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
Valenzano said the course is not a combination of all the current CMM modules and is not a public speaking course. Rather, it focuses on civil dialogue and communication skills relevant in a variety of contexts.
The current pilot version of the course breaks students into groups to discuss a selected controversial theme on which students will focus their course projects. During the final project, each group will take the floor to individually discuss the topic within the group, while the rest of the class observes the dialogue. After a period of time, the discussion will open to full class participation.
“So far it has been a great success,” Parsons said. “The civil dialogue aspect of the course helps students understand other students.”
Currently, the course contains two multiple choice exams with outline assignments for each oral performance. In addition, Valenzano said the course has implemented a new assignment called inter-teaching, where students teach each other the material and the professor acts as a coach. This helps students practice dialogue on a near daily basis as part of the class.
“I’m very eager to see how CMM 100 goes in the fall, it truly is a university built course,” Valenzano said. “There is nothing like it anywhere else in the country, and it will give students a unique UD experience built by all campus constituencies, from students, faculty and staff.”