Teaching Professional Communication Skills to Undergraduate Students
Dr. Lisa Beymer
Effective communication is necessary for every profession (Hargie, 2016). Understanding how to facilitate dialogue is especially important for educators (Wei, Murphey & Firetto, 2018). Discussions help students understand course content, and effective professional communication is key to creating shared meaning with students, parents, and colleagues (Michaels & O’Conner, 2015). This study was conducted in the fall of 2021 to identify what interventions, including direct instruction, feedback, and self-assessment, support undergraduate education students in developing their professional discourse skills. The researcher first conducted a literature review regarding communication and discussion skills. She then created a module that taught an overview of these skills. Lastly, she created a rubric to measure students’ acquisition of the skills. She presented the module and rubric to the class as an online assignment at the beginning of the semester. Class participants then recorded biweekly small group discussions. The researcher scored each individual student on the created rubric and met with students after each session to review the rubric and provide feedback on their performance. Students also completed a brief self-assessment form after each discussion. Utilizing the rubric, the researcher tracked student progress across six criteria over six small group discussions. The data show improvements in scores across all domains, with the largest proportional increase after the first two feedback sessions. The class participants completed an optional survey at the end of the semester that indicated students felt the four interventions: module, rubric, self-assessment, and individual feedback sessions, were either very or somewhat beneficial (with the expectation of two out of eighty responses). Out of all the interventions, students indicated that the individualized rubric is the best to incorporate into future courses. The researcher created a rubric and module template for faculty interested in incorporating professional discourse skills into their coursework, as the majority of these skills are generalizable across contexts.
Conner, Claire and Beymer, Lisa, "Teaching Professional Communication Skills to Undergraduate Students" (2022). 2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase. 3.