For several decades, colleges and universities have supported students’ learning through the development of writing- or communication-intensive course requirements. These requirements respond to the consensus that students best learn content by communicating about it, and that a meaningful undergraduate education develops rich communication skills not in a single course, but through iteration across the curriculum.
Baruch’s Communication-Intensive Course (CIC) requirements aim to support students, at key curricular touchstones, in just this way. At the beginning of their degree programs, in their capstones, and at strategic sites along the way, students are taught how to write- and speak-to-learn, and how to produce effective communication for a variety of audiences. It is our hope that students bring these skills to all their coursework, and that faculty facilitate them even outside designated CICs.
Because communication-intensive teaching and learning is essential to success at Baruch and beyond, we’ve identified the highest-impact strategies and practical suggestions below. This guide is designed to flesh out the College’s current Guidelines with all you need to ensure deep learning. If you’d like to know more, we encourage you to turn to our Very Short Guides, and of course, we’re always happy to talk.
- To facilitate deep learning of content, communication is integral to all aspects of course design.
- Whenever possible, facilitate active learning with opportunities to speak- and write-to-learn, whether in whole-class discussion, short written reflections, or small-group work.
- When lecturing, provide listening guides enabling students to listen purposefully; build in opportunities at key junctures for written reflection, whole group summary, or questions; and ideally leave time for active learning activities in response to lecture content.
- Identify what you want students to learn, and design strategies for them to arrive at that knowledge through exploration, problem solving, and reflection.
- Facilitate students’ explicit connection of new knowledge to prior knowledge, and their metacognition on how they learned.
- Communication-intensive assignments appear periodically across the syllabus, and not exclusively at semester’s end, to support students’ longitudinal and recursive skills development.
- Schedule graded assignments at regular intervals; three shorter assignments due monthly are more productive for learning than one large, final project. Better still is a portfolio of assignments that grow progressively more challenging, synthesizing not only new content but also new skills.
- Assign lower stakes, even ungraded homework such as response papers, reading journals, and extemporaneous speech outlines.
- Employ short, in-class writing or speaking activities such as brief summaries of lecture or reading content, think-pair-share activities, rotating responsibility for whole-class discussion leadership, and short debate exercises.
- Scaffold a high-stakes project with interim milestone assignments such as brainstorms, proposals, annotated bibliographies, outlines, and drafts.
- Students have meaningful opportunities with both faculty and peers to receive formative feedback (that which cultivates growth, rather than exclusively evaluating mastery).
- Conduct peer review sessions, clustering students into groups that will observe, describe, and analyze—rather than evaluate—one another’s drafts. Students often do best with a reading guide to structure their responses.
- Use online forums as sites for students to comment on and raise questions about work in progress.
- Provide whole-class feedback on a completed assignment by noting trends such as shared strengths and areas for future development, as well as stand-out interpretations, applications, or arguments.
- When providing written comments or conducting oral conferences, ask questions, and explicitly reflect on how a student might use what they’ve learned in future contexts.
- Whenever possible, create opportunities for students to apply and respond to interim feedback through formal revision and resubmission.
- Students learn communication skills from within a specific disciplinary context, through explicit classroom instruction.
- Provide models of the genres students will produce, analyzing them as a class to identify characteristic features and functions.
- Conduct short workshops that teach the construction and execution of fundamental moves such as articulating problem statements or thesis statements, structuring comparative analysis, or making recommendations.
- Facilitate students’ comparative analysis of genres, forms, and disciplinary discourse conventions to support both audience awareness and synthesis of communication skills.