Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Speaking Isn't Writing: An Assessment of Professional Writing Students' Presentations




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Most professional communication students will deliver presentations once they become active members of society. How can we effectively educate students about the nuances of delivering effective presentations? As part of an on-going assessment project of departmental strategic goals, Toth and Schendel investigated how well students effectively delivered presentations, since our major does not require a speech course. A departmental goal is that students will develop the ability to write well by analyzing and understanding rhetorical situations and by learning to respond to particular situations with appropriate kinds of discourse. While we believe students are capable of responding to particular communication situations appropriately within their writing, we investigated if they could transfer their abilities to a different mode of communication: oral presentations. Specifically, we assessed how students enrolled in Writing 200 could demonstrate effective speaking strategies, use visuals to enhance delivery, and shift the content/organization from a written assignment which addressed an external audience to an internal audience for the presentation. We normed our teaching practices for the presentation unit and collaborated on a rubric that we used to assess the presentations. This panel shares the findings of our assessment project. On the one hand, students were adept at thinking about the content, visuals, and delivery techniques for their presentations. On the other hand, their greatest weakness was in organizing and in using overt moves to allow an audience to follow along effectively. We believe the findings of this assessment have implications not only for classroom practices, but also larger curriculum decisions.

Conference Name

Annual Conference for the Association for Business Communication

Conference Location

Chicago, IL

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