Faculty Senate

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These changes are proposed to address the Communications faculty’s concerns about the effectiveness of the existing COMM sequence of COMM 101 and COMM 301. Under the current General Education Requirements, COMM 101 is required for LS 201, so students generally take it their Freshman year, while the second course, COMM 301, requires a minimum standing of Junior. This makes it possible for a student to take COMM 101 and LS 201 in their Freshman year and receive no significant additional instruction in writing for 2 years or more. Composition scholars who are particularly interested in transfer (a student’s ability to successfully carry knowledge or skills from one course to another) have noted that effective transfer of a skill is more likely when students have multiple opportunities to practice that skill. Due to the affordances of a 10-week term, students in COMM 101 often compose several assignments in different genres, getting only one shot at each. The frequently years-long gap between 101 and 301 increases the odds that skills introduced in 101 will not be retained. At the same time, currently COMM 301 is not a required course for students’ 300-level LS electives, with the result that students are not as well-prepared as they could be for those courses, especially the required Writing Intensives.

The changes proposed here are intended to address these issues. A required 200-level COMM course makes it more likely that students will take COMM 101, LS 201, and COMM 201 in their first two years at Kettering, increasing the odds that writing skills will be retained and reinforced. Making COMM 201 a pre-requisite for the 300-level electives also ensures that students will receive more writing instruction before tackling their Writing Intensives.

The existing COMM 301’s original placement and content have been centered around providing support for students’ CUE projects, and it is understandable that there would be concerns about removing that support altogether. Although the likelihood that the traditional thesis will no longer be required in every department means that not every student needs a course like COMM 301, there will still be many students who do. Therefore, in addition to making these changes to the General Education Requirements, the Liberal Studies department is also proposing to turn COMM 301 into a 300-level elective course focused on the CUE. Rather than being taken automatically in the Junior year, this elective can (and should) be taken by students when they most need it – as they begin writing their CUE documents.

It is our belief that these changes will strengthen students’ writing skills overall by providing more instruction earlier in their college careers while still providing students undertaking the CUE with the resources they need.