Communication—2015 proposal

New Communications Requirement


The General Education Revitalization Committee and the Curricular Affairs Committee recommend that the Faculty Senate move to replace the upper division Oral (O) and Written (W) designators with  the requirement that each degree program must satisfy the following Communications Learning Outcomes within the degree program:

UAF undergraduates will demonstrate effective communication when they are able to:

  1. Explain disciplinary content using a variety of modes of communication.
  2. Communicate to audiences in the discipline using appropriate disciplinary conventions.
  3. Translate disciplinary content to audiences outside the discipline, making disciplinary knowledge relevant to broader communities.
  4. Integrate feedback from others to enhance or revise communication.

Each baccalaureate degree program must submit a Communications Plan that demonstrates how students will achieve each of the learning outcomes as part of  the requirements of the major or degree program. Not all courses or requirements need to support every outcome; however, all the outcomes must be met by the completion of the degree.

EFFECTIVE: Fall 2016

RATIONALE: The GERC committee and Curricular Affairs, as part of its work to revise UAF’s core requirements  in response to the Faculty Senate adoption of the LEAP outcomes, propose replacing the current W/O designators with a requirement that students achieve the Communications Learning Outcomes that is integrated into each baccalaureate degree program and major.
The responsibility for ensuring that students achieve these Communications Learning Outcomes is being moved from the University level (via specific O and W courses)  to the departments (via the requirements of the degree programs), and from a specific degree requirement (taking two Ws and one O) to a requirement that is transparent to the student and is achieved simply by the student completing the degree requirements associated with their program.
To ensure student achievement of these Communications Learning Outcomes, each department will demonstrate how they address these learning outcomes by developing a Communications Plan that integrates communication at the lower- and upper-level into each degree or program, typically via a collection of courses and/or non-curricular degree requirements chosen to meet the needs of the particular program, in such a way that all the outcomes are met somewhere in the collection of courses. The Communications Plan for each degree will describe the collection of courses (possibly, both in and out of the department) and other requirements (if any) and how they contribute to meeting these outcomes.
Departments will submit the Communications Plan for each degree program as part of their SLOA plans, and subsequently, by submitting a short summary report addressing how the plan is working (and revising the plan as necessary).  Once a department has submitted a plan, which will include a required path/collection of paths through the degree wherein students will achieve the Communications Learning Outcomes, then all students in that degree will achieve the Communications Learning Outcomes by virtue of satisfying the degree requirements of that program.
To facilitate implementation, GERC recommends an ad hoc committee be formed to review the initial Communications Plans. They suggest the addition of an additional checkbox on Major/Minor course change forms asking “does this change affect Communications Outcomes Plans?’, so that departments are aware of potential changes.
Faculty Senate should determine how best to assess how well departments and majors are achieving the Communications outcomes as implemented in the Communications plan associated with each program and degree. GERC recommend a long-term committee that can serve as a resource for communications-related courses, as well as to assess the long-term efficacy of Communications plans.
Finally, GERC recommends a web page (similar to the SLOA) where communications plans are collected and disseminated across the university.

4 Replies to “Communication—2015 proposal”

  1. Will COMM 131/141X be required to be part of the plan? If yes, it nullifies the benefits of the proposed system. That course has consistently been deemed as not adding any value. This is not limited to UAF. Many universities now do not require a course in oral communication. I hope we are able to reduce the credit hour requirement by eliminating some courses like that. Our (engineering programs) achievement of various learning outcomes, including communications, are evaluated by ABET every 6 years. Therefore, at least for engineering programs, there will be an independent evaluation of the communication learning outcomes. Hence a safety net.

  2. What valid evidence do you have to substantiate your claim that COMM 131X/141X do not add value to our students? Our data indicate just the opposite.

  3. This is a really great improvement; we try to emphasize the need for strong writing and oral communication skills in all of our ANS and RD courses rather than limiting this to “O” and “W” courses so we are already proceeding down the path this new course of action lays out. Thanks for the hard work on this one!

  4. SOM is very supportive of these changes.

    It is outcomes based rather than input based.

    It will allow us more control of our curriculum.

    It will allow us to establish a communications plan which is tailored to the type of communications that our business students most need.

    It will give us much more flexibility by eliminating the need to create W and O courses which are needed to meet students graduation requirements rather than creating an integrated curriculum and using oral and written exercises where they best fit.

    It eliminates a lot of the angst with transfer students not having O and Ws.

    Thanks for the committees work on this.

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