Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Rhetoric and Composition



Major Advisor

Clyde Moneyhun, Ph.D.


All college students are required to take basic courses in certain core subjects; this includes the universal requirement of composition. In composition instruction, the rhetorical canons of invention, arrangement, and style are the only skills taught in most writing programs. However, there are two other canons, both related to public speech: memory and delivery. This thesis will focus only on the canon of delivery and defines it as speaking in person before an audience of any size.

The ability to communicate through speech is no less important than the ability to communicate through writing. However, the education system, both collegiate and secondary, has placed very little emphasis on speech instruction beyond voluntary courses and clubs and the occasional presentation in class. Only a small number of students have the ability to speak intelligently and engagingly about their ideas without a script, even though it is a skill that will likely be needed across just as many if not more job fields and life paths than writing.

In addition to my hypothesis that public speaking is wrongfully neglected and in need of reinvigoration, I also hypothesize that speaking in depth about one’s ideas before writing them will have a deepening effect on the student’s understanding and ability to express himself or herself in writing. In order to research this hypothesis, I conducted a study using my English 101 class for one semester. I infused as many public speaking opportunities into the course as possible in order to give them more exposure to the experience than they would normally have in a composition course. In order to measure any effects this had, I conducted a question and answer survey and a short answer survey where they described their current feelings about public speaking as well as some background on their public speaking experience before the course. These surveys were administered at the beginning of the semester and then again at the end in order to measure any change in confidence or skill levels. The results I collected from my students in the form of surveys and end of semester reflection essays supported my hypothesis of improvement in confidence and attitude toward public speaking.