The Relationship Between the Digital Communication Lab and Student Oral Communication Outcomes (poster 1)
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Beginning in the Fall 2014 semester the Department of Communication Studies began offering sections of Com 101: Digital Communication Lab as a one-credit online co-requisite paired with Critical Issues in Human Inquiry (CIHI) classes in Creighton University's Magis Core. Com 101 provides content, concepts, and practice in oral communication to prepare students to complete significant oral communication assignments in their CIHI classes at the end of each semester. As a department we have undertaken measures to assess student learning in this course. Each semester students complete a pre and post speech quantitative and qualitative survey that measures their attitudes towards public speaking and collects data about their activity in the course. This data, in addition to assessment data from University curriculum assessment, helps us to make revisions to the course to aid student achievement of learning outcomes. After one year of collecting data, we found several facets of the course decrease or increase student anxiety around public presentations, which impacts their performance on course learning objectives. Students who visited the Communication Center were less anxious than their peers. Students were less anxious about speaking in their CIHI classes when they: 1) sought tutoring in the department's Communication Center; 2) completed practice assignments in Com 101 requiring video recording of speeches or practicing speech elements; 3) completed smaller speaking assignments earlier in the semester in their CIHI classes. These results emphasize that completing the oral communication objective in the Magis Core Curriculum (Students will construct and effectively deliver well-structured and supported arguments in oral [form]) requires partnerships among the Com 101 course, CIHI instructors, and the Communication Center. Our survey also noted that students did become more anxious about presentations when instructors emphasized assignment requirements or when peer feedback or instructor feedback is part of assignment design. While it is difficult to eliminate these elements from assignment design, it does suggest that early opportunities to speak in low-stakes environments can help students develop skills without directly applying specific speech/delivery requirements or having peer feedback.