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Oral Communication Assessment


The ULO Project on Oral Communication began in September 2009. The ULO Oral Communication Committee adopted an operational definition from AAC&U’s Oral Communication VALUE Rubric: “a prepared, purposeful presentation designed to increase knowledge, to foster understanding, or to promote change in the listeners’ attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.” Based on this definition, the committee designed a five-point rubric with seven traits: verbal delivery, nonverbal delivery, presence of a central message, organization, language use, use of supporting material, and use of visual aids.

Committee Membership

Members on the committee were composed of faculty and staff and were led by Lorraine Jackson (Professor of Communication Studies). Other members included Alexander Dekhtyar (Computer Science), Anurag Pandre (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Stern Neill (Marketing), and Scott Vernon (Agricultural Education and Communication).


The oral communication element assessed a sample of oral presentations by freshmen enrolled in two communication courses . The assessment suggested that the vast majority of freshmen met an average or better level of competence on an AAC&U oral communication rubric, even with only introductory instruction. These findings led to the institutional action items listed below. During the Educational Effectiveness Review (EER) visit, there were indications that the first action item listed above was being pursued and that the recently reconfigured Academic Assessment Council would address the second action item related to students’ oral communication outcomes. For more information, refer to the Summary - Oral Communication Report -August 2011 (PDF).


  • Identify areas of the curriculum outside the GE oral communication requirement in which the Communications Studies faculty can partner with other faculties to develop students’ oral communication skills.
  • Complete the ULO Project on Oral Communication by collecting data on upper-division student performance and making a value-added comparison to lower-division results.

Committee Activities and Timeline

Summary of Committee Activities 2009-11
date activity
fall 2009

Assembled an interdisciplinary committee


Utilized the operational definition offered by the AACU for the purpose of this assessment project


Oral Communication is a prepared, pursposeful presentation designed to increase knowledge, to foster understanding, or to promote change in the listeners' attitudes, beliefs or values.




Designed an Oral Communication Rubric (PDF)
fall 2010 Videotaped over 100 student speeches in GE introductory public speaking classes
winter 2011 Used the rubric to assess students' performance
spring 2011 Tabulated results



Completed: Summary - Oral Communication Report -August 2011 (PDF)


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