The development of the University of Virginia’s oral communication competency assessment plan was coordinated by the Office of Institutional Assessment and Studies. A faculty committee composed of representatives of the undergraduate schools wrote the definition, goal, learning outcomes and standards.
For the purpose of collecting data about undergraduate, upper-level courses that required a formal oral presentation were used in the competency assessment.
Oral communication is the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to a specific audience.
As part of the University’s stated purpose, members of the University community should “record, preserve, and disseminate the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavors.” Oral communication, therefore, is essential to the intellectual life of the University, and graduates of the University of Virginia should be able to make clear and convincing oral presentations to individuals or groups, clarify information as needed, and facilitate an open exchange of ideas.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students graduating from the University of Virginia will demonstrate oral communication skills and, in an extemporaneous presentation, should be able to:
- Take responsibility for a significant topic with a clear thesis and persuasive argument.
- Provide a clear structure and adequate transitions between ideas.
- Demonstrate a substantial understanding of the chosen topic and disciplinary knowledge or genre via research, credible sources, and supporting evidence.
- Demonstrate facility with topical and disciplinary knowledge via well-crafted, audience appropriate language.
- Adapt and balance the speaker’s purpose, agenda, and style with audience needs and the specific occasion.
- Demonstrate vocal qualities (pace, inflection, volume, enunciation) and physical behaviors (gestures, stance, eye-contact, movement) that augment content and maintain audience interest.
- Evince enthusiasm for the topic and occasion while projecting an engaging personal presence.
- Use visual aids, when appropriate, to provide useful illustrations or examples.
The following standards have been established:
- 40% of undergraduates are expected to be highly competent (score of 4)
- 85% competent (score of 3 and above)
- 95% minimally competent (score of 2 and above).
The University will use one standard/rubric for all the undergraduate schools, but each assessment will be conducted at the school level. Sufficient sample sizes will be used to ensure that the results can be reported by school, and the individual assessments will be conducted by school faculty. Because each undergraduate school is responsible for designing its own curriculum, this method will allow schools to make the best use of the assessment results. School results will be aggregated to form an overall result for the University.