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Colleges and Curricula
Communication Proficiency Policy
Basic Principles: The faculty of Iowa State University believe that all educated people should be able to communicate effectively in a variety of settings and media, including electronic. Consequently, Iowa State University graduates are expected to develop competence in three interrelated areas of communication: written, oral, and visual.
This communication competence can best be achieved through the following five principles:
•Communication instruction and practice are distributed over the student’s entire undergraduate experience, both in and out of the classroom, from the first year through the senior year.
•Communication instruction and practice are distributed across the curriculum, both in communication courses and in courses in the student’s major.
•Active learning and higher-order thinking are fostered through communication.
•Faculty across the university share responsibility for the student’s progress in communication practices.
•Both faculty and students engage in ongoing assessment for continuous improvement of the student’s communication practices.
Iowa State University’s communication curriculum, based on these five principles, seeks to enrich the student’s understanding of the various subjects studied as well as prepare the student to communicate successfully in professional, civic, and private life.
Foundation Courses: To ensure that broad communication competence is addressed and developed at the beginning of a university career, all students will earn six credits in the two-course introductory sequence (English 150 and 250), normally taken in the first and second years. Students will focus on writing and critical reading, with complementary instruction in visual, oral, and electronic communication; they will concentrate on civic and cultural themes; and they will enter work in a communication portfolio to document their current level of proficiency.
Upper-Level Curricula: Continuing development of communication skills will be directed by the student’s major department. Using the university’s basic principles as a guide, each department will specify a set of intended learning outcomes and design communication experiences by which students in the major can achieve the desired level of communication proficiency.
Departments may select from or combine a variety of communication options that best match their faculty, students, and curriculum:
•designated communication-intensive courses that integrate written, oral, and visual communication into a course in the major;
•a sequence of courses within the major that incorporates communication tasks of increasing complexity;
•linked courses—one in communication, one in the major—that integrate readings and assignments;
•advanced composition course(s) appropriate to the student’s major and offering instruction in written, oral, and visual communication;
•communication-intensive activities within or beyond course work, such as communication portfolios, discipline- or course- specific student tutoring, community service projects, internships, electronic presentations, informational fairs, juried competitions, entrepreneurial projects, newsletters, Web sites.
Departments will retain the authority for regularly assessing the degree to which their students achieve the specified learning outcomes and for making curricular improvements based on departmental assessment data.
Non-Native Speakers of English: Students admitted to the university whose first language is not English are required to take the English Placement Test before the beginning of their first semester of enrollment as students at Iowa State. This requirement includes freshmen as well as those who have transferred credit from other institutions. The test is administered by the English Department and is offered before the beginning of each semester. Students whose performance on this placement examination is satisfactory will follow the regular university communication proficiency requirements. Students who have deficiencies will enroll in special English classes, as determined by the test results.