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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Oral Communication Competence: A Problem Based Learning Assessment Strategy

Dr Amanda Borden.

Educators who teach college-level integrated speaking/writing or other interdisciplinary courses have long struggled with methods of teaching and assessing oral communication within the context of such courses. Specifically, they often fear that principles of effective speaking would be watered down in attempts to coordinate with writing instruction. This presentation outlines the adaptation of an assessment tool from the competency-based approach developed at the University of Colorado and the National Communication Association and modeled from the pedagogy of Problem Based Learning. The tool is designed for use in integrated courses to add emphasis to the oral communication component. Given the ethics issues growing out of recent corporate scandals, the assessment activity poses a problem grounded in ethical practices at the professional level. The assessment module provides reading prompts and problem scenarios for a variety of majors/professions, and it is adaptable for various communicative goals. For example, the instructor could assign a business major an article to read about a current ethical dilemma or issue. If the instructor desires to assess informative or referential skills, he or she could assign the student to design and deliver a briefing to employees about the company's ethics policies. Similarly relevant scenarios are available for assessment of persuasive communication. The presentation offers conclusions regarding the success of the assessment tool at a Christian university whose mission statement, curriculum, and organizational culture combine to reinforce the development of personal values and ethics within students. The utility of the approach is its recognition that effective communicators will face ethical dilemmas, regardless of their profession.


Dr Amanda Borden  (United States)
Assistant Professor & Dean of Freshmen
Department of Communication
Samford University

Ph.D., Speech Communication, University of Illinois, 1979
M.A., Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Alabama, 1975
A.B., cum laude, Speech Pathology, University of Alabama, 1974
Teaching specialties include communication theory, research methods, persuasion, small groups, and freshman speaking & writing. Current research focuses on core undergraduate oral literacy and service learning. Conference presentations include those sponsored by the National Communication Association, Southern States Communication Association, the Lilly Fellows, and PBL 2000.

  • Oral Communication Competence
  • Problem Based Learning
  • Ethics
  • Interdisciplinary Instruction

(30 min Conference Paper, English)