"Changing Neural Pathways Every Class Period"
"Anyone can talk, but few do so strategically"
In order to maximize your opportunity to be a thoughtful, strategic and professional communicator I ask that you abide by the expectations outlined in the illustration below. It requires you to be committed to your personal growth, act professionally, and show respect to your classmates and professor.
Some Common Misconceptions
“I’m already a great communicator; all I need is the degree.”
Response: Many people are blessed with natural communication abilities. However, experience does not necessarily equal competence. The faculty is committed to not only further developing your skills but also improving your understanding of the communication process. We are not here to “rubber stamp” anyone.
Our expectation is that CP majors/minors want to enhance their skills and understanding of the communication process.
“I really hate math.”
Response: You will still need math skills to effectively study communication. For instance, conducting effective analyses of audiences will require you to collect and properly interpret survey data. Moreover, the rigor and analytical skills used by mathematicians are just as important to students of communication.
We expect you to develop rigorous analytical skills.
“I want someone to tell me exactly how to communicate.”
Response: The CP program focuses on developing your thinking skills so you can effectively address any future communication problem or situation. We provide general (and sometimes vague) principles that should structure your thinking well into the future.
Our expectation is that you will become comfortable solving ambiguous problems.
“I love to talk.”
Response: Speaking is only part of the communication process. There is also, of course, listening. We stress the intellectual skills necessary to accomplish important tasks. Often, this means repressing a natural desire to speak.
We expect you to approach the act of communication from a strategic point of view.
“I want to sit in a classroom, take notes, and then take the exam.”
Response: Our classes are not structured in this manner. Most of the classes involve some sort of group project and guided discussion. We do this to provide you with practical experiences and foster your intellectual involvement.
We expect you to fully participate in group projects and discussions.
“I want to make really cool videos.”
Response: Great! But that is only one small part of the educational process.
We expect you to become adept at a variety of other important communication skills.
“I want a major that fits with my work schedule.”
Response: This is not always possible. Reconciling work, personal and school conflicts is an important life skill.
We expect you to be in class and devote the time necessary to properly completing your scholarly obligations.
“I want an easy major”.
Response: Most students find the courses demanding both in terms of time and rigor. There are numerous group projects, assignments and casework that should be completed outside the class period. If you're looking for an easy major, the communications department is not the right major for you.
We expect you to work hard.
“I love people.”
Response: Great! But love is not always enough. For instance, effectively dealing with people also involves providing them appropriate information using the right channels.
We expect you to transform your love of people into specific marketable communication skills.
“I’m a sensitive person and I want to go into a field where that trait will be appreciated.” Response: Sensitivity is an admirable personal trait. But it needs to be balanced with rigorous thinking and willingness to accept constructive feedback.
We expect you to be open to constructive feedback.
Some Tips on the Educational Process
Your education will emerge out of the words read, the problems investigated, and exercises experienced. To get the most from this process, we strongly recommend you read the following books:
· The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
· Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
· Teamwork by Carl Larson & Frank LaFasto
Covey’s classic book provides a useful overview of the work habits that can make you successful, while the Gardner book discusses the emotional control necessary to thrive in our program. Finally, the Teamwork book is a useful primer for effective group work.
Listed below is some advice from former communications students who have successfully trained their neural pathways.
"Taking a Phil class will definitely raise your stress levels. However, once the class is over, you will realize that it was all worth it." -Jerome Allen
"Do not concern yourself with what you believe Phil is "looking for" as the "right answer," rather construct a unique solution to the problem and develop a strong line of rationale and you will succeed beyond measure" -Marcus Reitz
"GO TO CLASS!!! No matter how many notes you print off the website, you will never get all the information! Also...read, read, read! If you don't read, the multiple choice questions in the exams are going to kick your butt!" -Angela Stangel
Communication Students... should be striving for excellence by: 1) continuously improving personal communication skills such as listening, public speaking, writing and managing conflict, 2) developing effective group communication skills by knowing how to effectively and efficiently solve problems, 3) becoming critical thinkers by understanding how to analytically and strategically address communication problems and 4) developing communication expertise by learning fundamental communication principles, practices and theories. Concentrating on these four critical areas puts every student in the best possible position to become a thoughtful, strategic, and professional communicator. Such individuals glisten like rare gems – coveted by friends, colleagues and organizations.
7 Questions to guide your thinking...
Can you prove it?
What are your assumptions?
What is effectiveness?
What is the pattern?
What can you do about it?
Is it ethical?
"Those who write as they speak, even though they speak well, write badly." - Comte De Buffon