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Communication is the ability to express an idea to a wide variety of audiences.
Communication can be written (essays, advertising material, reports, notes, e-mails, or texts), oral (speeches, conversations, phone calls, meetings, or presentations), or visual (art, graphic design, power points, flyers, or even fashion).
Employers want people who can communicate effectively. You do not have to be a great essayist or orator to understand the value of communicating in a clear, organized, and thoughtful manner. Communication means being able to take something complex and explain it to multiple audiences with varying degrees of technical expertise, interest, and buy-in. Whether an engineer or a concert pianist, it is important to be able to tell people what you are doing and why it is important.
Communities need people who have a voice and aren’t afraid to use it. Having coffee with a neighbor or attending a rally and giving a speech require similar skills. Writing a letter to a friend or a letter to your state representative requires similar skills. You must be able to move from the internalized (thoughts, opinions, and ideas) to the externalized (written, oral, and visual communication) to enter into the larger conversations that are going on in the world around you.
Faculty members who have worked many years in the field of communications have developed evaluative rubrics that we use to assess communication skill. The factors considered include context and purpose, structure and organization, content development, sources and evidence, and control of syntax and mechanics.
While this rubric is an effective measure of communication, it is certainly not the only measure. We also evaluate communication by looking at some of the responses on university-wide surveys like Exit Surveys and the National Survey of Student Engagement.
Below are some of our recent reports that explain how we are doing as an institution.