What are the goals of the QEP?

The primary goal of “Learning to Speak—Speaking to Learn” is to improve students’ oral communication skills through the practice of public speaking in disciplines across the curriculum. A secondary goal of this QEP is to enhance students’ confidence in their ability to speak in public through the process learning and developing better oral communication skills.

Why “Learning to Speak—Speaking to Learn”?

Good oral communication skills are essential to our students’ learning and lives because the ability to speak clearly and eloquently transcends work in the classroom and allows students to communicate ideas of value both personally and professionally. Graduates with effective oral communication skills have a competitive edge in networking and the workplace, as well as the capacity and confidence to participate in and lead public discourse. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, “Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization” ranked as the third most important skill desired by employers for graduates of the class of 2015. Commonly, Sewanee alumni who had the opportunity to learn and practice public speaking remark that in the years post-graduation, their education in oral presentations had a significant, very positive impact on their professional careers. The ability to speak well and without fear is often at the top of the list of items university graduates wish they had learned while in college.

What are the student learning outcomes for the QEP?

  1. Students will deliver original oral presentations that demonstrate understanding of the topic by explaining, analyzing, or arguing specific concepts, ideas, images, music, or texts.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to support their spoken explanations, analyses, or arguments with appropriate evidence and examples.
  3. Students will use communication techniques (such as eye contact, language, voice, and effective use of media) tailored to the topic, setting, and audience.
  4. Students will design and deliver well-organized speeches of appropriate length.
  5. Student presenters will respond in fitting and meaningful ways to questions, comments, and nonverbal cues from the audience.

What is the Center for Speaking and Listening?

The Center for Speaking and Listening will serve as a hub for QEP activities. The Center will be home to a director, student tutors, faculty members who are working on developing Speaking (SP) courses, and interested others. The Center will host workshops, lunches, talks, training, and other activities for faculty and students. It will also provide access to audiovisual and computer technology and small and larger spaces in order to meet needs for larger meetings and tutorials.

Where will the Center for Speaking be Housed?

To enhance accessibility and to coordinate the use of resources and facilities, the Center for Speaking and Listening will be located in the duPont Library building in close proximity to the Center for Teaching, the Writing Center, and the Ralston Music Listening Center. Initially, a former seminar room (measuring approximately 324 sq. ft.) will be used as the Center. There will be sound-proof cubicles (120 sq. ft. and 72 sq. ft.) available in an adjacent space for speaking practice.

Will there be media equipment available for speaking emphasis courses? and updating as needed.

Media Services and the Help Desk will support the QEP by recommending, pricing, purchasing, and maintaining the media equipment for the Speaking Center and, conceivably, the departments participating in the speaking across the curriculum initiative. This equipment will include, at least, digital video camcorders, camera stands, digital audio recorders, and video playback equipment for the Center as well as similar equipment to be housed by departments in various venues around campus.

What is a “Faculty Speaking Fellow”?

Faculty Speaking Fellows are those faculty members who have volunteered to work with the Director of the Center for Speaking and Listening to restructure their course syllabus to incorporate one or more assignments devoted to teaching public speaking skills.

How many Faculty Speaking Fellows will there be?

Up to five new faculty members will be named Speaking Fellows each year.

Will there be funding to support the development of new courses with a speaking emphasis?

Each Faculty Fellow will receive a $4,000 stipend for participating in the Faculty Fellows program. The program will include participation in a faculty development workshop as well as regular interaction with the Director of the Center for Speaking and Listening and the other faculty Speaking Fellows. An additional $1,000 will be available for student-related enrichment activities in the course. Stipends will be paid at the end of the semester in which the Speaking (SP) designated course is taught to allow time for the final course assessments to be submitted.

Is there a way to be involved in the implementation of the QEP even if I do not teach speaking courses?

Yes. You can join the QEP Implementation Committee, which will serve as the chief collaborative faculty group overseeing the QEP over the next five years and will work with the Director of the Center for Speaking and Listening. The Committee will have 11 members: two Associate Deans (Elizabeth Skomp, Associate Dean of the College for Faculty Development; and Richard G. Summers, Associate Dean of the College for Assessment) who will co-chair the committee, four members of the college faculty (one each from the college’s four divisions: Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences and Mathematics), and the directors of the Speaking and Listening Center, Writing Center, Center for Teaching, and representatives from the Office of Institutional Research and LITS.

Are their rubrics to be used in speaking courses?

The QEP Task Force considered a variety of rubrics currently used by other institutions in developing the following assessment procedure. Among others, these include The Oral Communication VALUE Rubric developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (Rhodes 2010), Tusculum College’s Rubric for Public Speaking (Tusculum College 2014), and Marquette University’s Speech and Presentation Grading Rubric (Marquette University 2005). The VALUE rubrics, along with the other two college tested rubrics were adapted and molded into a new rubric that is specifically tailored to Sewanee’s “Learning to Speak—Speaking to Learn” student learning outcomes.

Will there be a way to determine if students are less anxious about public speaking after taking a speaking course?

We will use the Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety (PRPSA) by J.C. McCroskey (2013) or a similar instrument, administered as a pre- and post-test in courses that are
designated as Speaking (SP), as a means of evaluating our secondary QEP goal: in the process of learning and developing better oral communication skills, students will gain greater confidence in their ability to speak in public (Table 5.5). While we understand that there is always some level of anxiety about public speaking, it is our hope that we will see an average decline in the magnitude of this anxiety as students develop their public speaking skills.

Will their be course evaluation questions specific to the QEP for speaking courses?

Students will be given the opportunity to evaluate the speaking component of the Speaking (SP) Courses developed as part of the QEP. These evaluations will either be given in class and submitted to the QEP Implementation Committee, or will be included as extra questions on the formal Banner course evaluation form submitted for all courses at the end of each semester. Students will respond to up to three questions focused directly on the speaking assignment in the course.

Will I have to fill out an assessment report if I teach a speaking course?

All members of the faculty who teach Speaking (SP) courses will fill out an end-of-semester assessment report for the class as a whole (Table 5.4). This report will indicate how students scored on each of the five Student Learning Outcomes in the speaking assignment for the course. In courses that require more than one speaking assignment, the assessment would typically only cover the final speaking assignment for the semester. The form will assist in determining the percentage of students demonstrating overall competency in public speaking in the course, in revealing specific areas of weakness and strength to assist instructors in the development of future courses, and in helping the Director of the Center for Speaking and Listening develop programming to address specifically those areas in which students are having the greatest amount of difficulty. While the form may be initially be completed on paper, the long term plan is to create an electronic form that can be submitted online, and also summarized more easily for use by the Director of the Speaking and Listening Center and the QEP Implementation Committee in tracking the program’s success in improving student learning outcomes.