Table of Contents
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Why did CAST develop his handbook?
About this handbook
What do we, the faculty, expect from you?
How will you get these skills?
Grammar and Usage
Written Reports page
Oral Presentations page
A Few Words on Plagiarism
ETSU Resources


Why all the fuss about language skills?

Effective communication is a fundamental part of all professional disciplines. You, as a student, are preparing yourself for entry into or advancement within a profession. You are expected to gain and demonstrate not only competence in your chosen discipline, but the ability to communicate your knowledge, explain your problem solving methods, and ask incisive questions. Employers consistently rank the ability to communicate as the number one characteristic they seek when considering candidates for employment.

Communication methods can be grouped into three basic forms: written (reading and writing), oral (listening and speaking), and graphic (drawing and sketching). All three are important; however this handbook will primarily deal with two basic language skills: writing and speaking. None of the language skills can be mastered in two or three "core" courses. Likewise, a student cannot just read about language skills and then expect to write and speak well.

Experience has shown that written and oral communication must be practiced extensively to be mastered. Practicing writing and speaking should not end when you finish your required college composition and speech courses, but should continue throughout your college years and beyond. Many studies indicate that students with frequent communication requirements as a part of their course work achieve far greater success than do students given few or no communications requirements. These studies have consistently found that students learn the subject matter better as a result of their frequent communication experiences.

The College of Applied Science and Technology requires all of its majors to develop an acceptable level of writing and speaking proficiency. This means that students should be able to write and speak effectively. The ultimate goal is to communicate information clearly and efficiently. This literacy requirement is in alignment with the University's drive towards increasing the level and nature of written communication skills, often referred to as "writing across the curriculum." As a college, we seek to extend this effort to include oral and graphical forms of communication as well.

The keys to effective communication rest in developing and using various language skills such as developing ideas, formulating a strategy, locating and developing sufficient support materials, and organizing material in a coherent manner. Once these skills are learned, they must be used-frequently. They should be used in each assignment prior to preparing the initial draft. Then comes the iterative revising process that is essential to coax the work into its final, polished form. Developing such skills is a time-consuming process, but one that is necessary and expected. Effective communication requires a sincere level of commitment. It also requires a great deal of thought, painful though that may be!

Mere functional literacy is not adequate for success; nor is it our goal. Rather, students must attain a high level of proficiency in all forms of communication in order to become effective and contributing members of their professions and society.

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Why was this handbook developed?

The faculty of the College of Applied Science and Technology expect and accept only work that can be considered superior or above average! Hence this handbook is intended to establish a standard of performance concerning communications style and language usage for both written and oral assignments for all students taking courses in the College of Applied Science and Technology.

We, the faculty and administrators of the college, want you to be successful in your future career and expect you to take every advantage of the learning opportunities available in each course. Thus we strongly believe that language skills are fundamental to that success. We want you to be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to locate and gather information search for, find, and retrieve the ever-increasing mass of information available in a technological society.
  • Demonstrate capabilities for critical thinking, reasoning, and analysis-the ability to evaluate, analyze, and synthesize information.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills-understand and manipulate verbal, graphic, and mathematical symbols, both in written and oral form.

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About this handbook

This handbook is divided into five basic sections: grammar and usage, written reports, oral presentations, plagiarism, and a listing of university resources. Examples and checklists are provided to assist you in preparing and reviewing your material before presentation. The checklists should be used for each assignment as guides in reviewing your own work; they contain the various elements that faculty use when evaluating your work.

The styles presented for both written and oral reports are acceptable for most course assignments in the college, unless another style is specifically required by an instructor.

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What do we expect from you?

Each student in the college will be expected to develop and possess the following basic language skills:

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How will you get these skills?

Diligence, thought, effort, and (oh, yes) practice, practice, practice.

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Last updated on Tuesday, August 16, 2005 by Bill Hemphill