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General Education

What You Should Know about Teaching an ICOM Course

What are your obligations as an ICOM instructor?  What freedom do you have in redesigning an existing ICOM course?  The following guidelines will help answer these questions.  If you'd like more information or assistance, call Wesley Buerkle at 423-439-7579 or email .

Your ICOM course should . . .

  • enhance more than one oral communication skill

    It's up to you which skills your course addresses.  Your options include public speaking, listening, group discussion, interviewing, and other interpersonal communication skills.
  • require oral communication of every student in the course

    Individual students should not be able to "opt out" of oral communication assignments.  In particular, if you assign a group presentation, make sure to require each member of the group to do a significant portion of the presentation.
  • base at least 25% of the final grade on oral communication assignments

    In other words, at least 25% of your assessment of each student's mastery of course material must be done via oral communication assignments (as compared to essays or test-taking).  Part of the grade for each oral communication assignment -- how much is up to you -- must reflect the student's mastery of required communication skills.  However, you will probably base most of the grade for each assignment on the student's mastery of course material.
  • ensure that students receive instruction necessary to perform assignments

    Unless your students must take a prerequisite course in oral communication before taking your ICOM course, you must ensure that they receive instruction in the oral communication skills you expect them to apply in course assignments.  You can provide instruction through mini-lectures, assigned readings or other instructional materials, or arrangements with the Center of Academic Achievement to provide such instruction.  For copies of instructional handouts on a variety of oral communication skills, call Wesley Buerkle at 439-7579 or email .
  • give students feedback on their demonstrated communication skills in class assignments

    In addition to earning grades, students must receive feedback on their performance of communication skills in each assignment, so they can learn from the experience.  Feedback may be given by the instructor, fellow students or others (e.g., mentors in the community).  Feedback may be oral or written.  For copies of forms you can use to give feedback on a variety of communication skills, call Wesley Buerkle at 439-7579 or email .
  • spread oral communication assignments throughout the semester

    Creating several assignments helps students build skills as the course progresses.  In particular, avoid assigning a single speech near the end of the term worth 25% or more of the final grade.  One-shot communication experiences rarely build skills, and who needs that kind of pressure?
  • have a student enrollment of no greater than 30

    Limited enrollment helps to ensure that students in ICOM courses have sufficient opportunity to practice communication skills and receive timely feedback.
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