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Perspectives on Individual Expression Oral Expression
SC-105      Fundamentals of Oral Communication
Catalog Description

The development of proficiency in oral communication through the study of rhetorical theories, principles, and strategies.

Course Content


Because there are few professions for which effective communication skill is not important, this course is potentially valuable to any student, regardless of major.


The course is designed to acquaint students with the basic principles of effective oral communication and, more importantly, to give students first-hand experience in sharpening their communication abilities. The goal of the course is to teach students to make intelligent rhetorical choices.


Course content includes the types and functions of public speaking, classical rhetorical theory, delivery and nonverbal communication, style, organization, use of evidence and reasoning, strategies of persuasion, informative speaking, visual aids, the role of speaker credibility, and motivational appeals.


Nature of Course
  1. Emphasis on Reading: The primary source of reading assignments is the textbook, but students are also expected to do outside reading in connection with a semester project (see below) and in researching their classroom presentations.
  2. Group Projects: Team or group projects may be assigned. For example, the argumentative speech is frequently done with a partner as a debate.
  3. Emphasis on Writing: Students are required to submit complete outlines of the speeches they present. In addition, students will submit a brief rhetorical analysis of a significant instance of public discourse.
  4. Out-of-class Projects: Students are expected to prepare their presentations and papers outside of class. Classroom time is devoted to treatment of communication principles and to presentation and discussion of students’ speeches.
  5. Teaching Format: A variety of teaching formats, including lecture, in-class exercises, and group discussion are utilized. The primary teaching format involves student presentations.
  6. Other: The department believes that effective communication skills are crucial for personal and professional success and that they can be learned by anyone, regardless of previous experience or natural ability. By the same token, the department does not believe that skill in communication is merely a knack or a talent. Rather, its development must be based on sound theory and principles. While instructors strive to create a non-threatening classroom atmosphere, hard work and concerted study are required to develop effective communication abilities. The department rates the course as "moderately difficult."
Student Expectations
  1. Classroom Presentations: Typically, over the course of the semester students are required to present 3-4 speeches including:
    1. Speech of introduction. 2-3 minutes
    2. Expository speech (to inform on a significant subject within the University Studies categories of either Natural Systems or Human Institutions). 5-8 minutes
    3. Argumentative (debate) speech (may be done with a partner) on a question of judgment. 5-8 minutes
    4. Persuasive speech (advocating a policy or solution to a problem). 7-10 minutes 
  2. Examinations: Typically, two exams, a mid-term and a final, usually of the objective type, are given. 
  3. Papers: A rhetorical analysis of a significant speech or other form of rhetoric from American or world history is required.




Credit Hours 3