AGRI 183 Communication Methods

Fall 2006 Syllabus

AGRI 183: Students go to one lecture and one lab per week

Professor Jonathan Leonard

Lecture A Tuesdays 8:00-9:15AM room 108 Lafayette Hall code 90156

208H Morrill Hall, UVM

Lab A01 Monday: 2:30-4:30 in room 107 Marsh Lifescience Building code 90158

656-2979 (Office)

Lab A02 Wednesday 9:05-11:00 in room L400 Lafayette code 90161 434-3787 (Home before 9:00 pm please)
Lab A03 Wednesday 2:30-4:30 in room 325 Kalkin code 90162

  Office Hours:  Thursday 8:00 - 10:00 am
Teaching Assistants:  
Diana Fischer,, 802-272-2751  
Kyle Lovell,, 802-369-0551


Speech date and lab roles  and lab role responsibilities

Course Description: This course will develop your public speaking skills for presentations at UVM and in your life beyond.  You will learn how to give excellent oral presentations that are appropriate for different audiences.  While improving your public speaking skills you will conduct research and select appropriate media to make dynamic presentations.  During our class you will give and critique many presentations as well as critiquing professional presentations outside of class.

Why is This Course Important?   In today’s complex and ever changing world, the ability to communicate clearly is more important than ever.  Although communication takes on many forms, humans communicate mainly through the written and spoken word.  You will have many opportunities to work on improving your written communication skills during your college years, but few opportunities exist specifically to help you improve your speaking skills.  Recent graduates of UVM and employers agree that the ability to speak in public is an essential skill that every college graduate should possess.  In fact, oral communication is a core competency for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).  This course will be one of the few opportunities to study, to learn, to practice, to critique, and to improve your speaking skills--in short, to become a better oral communicator.

General Course Goal: The overall goal of this Communication Methods course is to help you improve your public speaking skills. 

Course Objectives: By completing this course you will:

1. Develop critical thinking skills through reading, reflection, discussion, oral presentation and writing.
2. Understand, use, and be able to critically analyze widely used propaganda techniques.

3. Demonstrate increased confidence in speaking.
4. Understand different types of presentations and different audiences, and be able to appropriately match the two to meet specific speaking objectives.
5. Be able to critique and learn from another person’s oral presentations.
6. Prepare appropriate media for presentations.
7. Be able to research, construct and present a dynamic and effective speech to a group.
8. Understand and utilize small group dynamics and the concept of teamwork both from a participant and facilitator standpoint.
9. Demonstrate teamwork and group presentation skills as a contributing member of a team.

Required Texts and Video Tape :

Lucas, Stephen E., The Art of Public Speaking, Eighth Edition,   McGraw Hill , New York , NY: 2001, ISBN 0-07-256296-X
Gelb, Michael J., Present Yourself!,   Jalamar Press, Torrance, CA: 1988  ISBN 0-915190-51-6

In addition, you must purchase a VHS videotape to be used to tape your presentations.

Attendance Policy: Unexcused absences from lecture or lab result in 1% reduction of your final course grade for each unexcused absence.  Attendance will be taken each lecture and lab. This is not a class to cut and get notes from someone else . This is a class where you must come to lecture and lab on time every time and be ready to participate.    No students have earned an A in this course who have had more than three unexcused absences. If you can not make a class, you must notify your instructor before the class.  Ex post facto notification will result in a zero for that class and assignment.  If you miss a speaking assignment without notifying your instructor before the class or if you miss a speaking assignment because you weren’t prepared, you will earn a zero for that assignment. Only extreme legitimate prior-notification absences (death in the family, serious illness, or accident) will be made up.  This should be a rare occurrence.  

Oral Assignments: It should be no surprise that students who spend lots of time preparing for their oral presentations do better than students who throw something together at the last moment or, worse yet, justwing it.”  Studying for this class is not passive (like reading a textbook or studying for an exam), instead it is active (practicing your presentations in front of friends and receiving feedback).

Plagiarism : Students are expected to read the examples of plagiarism and know when to use quotations and references in writing.

Honesty Policy: From The Cats Tale :

The principal objective of The University of Vermont policy on academic honesty is to promote an intellectual climate and support the academic integrity of The University of Vermont .  Academic dishonesty or an offense against academic honesty includes acts which may subvert or compromise the integrity of the educational process at The University of Vermont .  Such acts are serious offenses, which insult the integrity of the entire academic community of the University.  Offenses against academic honesty are any acts which would have the effect of unfairly promoting or enhancing one’s academic standing within the entire community of learners which includes, but is not limited to, the faculty and students of The University of Vermont .  Academic dishonesty also includes knowingly permitting or assisting any person in the commission of an offense of academic dishonesty.

Graded Assignments


1.  Class Introduction

2.   Present Yourself Quiz  10

3.  Four to Six page paper critiquing a formal speech given outside of class (due: Oct 27, 4pm) peer edited.

4.  Dramatic Reading 5

5.  Informational presentation 


6.  Persuasive presentation


7.  Choice presentation (informational, persuasive, entertaining)


8.  Three speech reflection papers


9.  Group current event and/or political analysis presentation 


10.  Critique student presentations/Class Attendance & Participation/Attitude 


11.  Final written exam




Assignments in Detail :   Download Excel Grading Template Here.

1.  Introduce yourself to the large class, (5%).  Students’ names will be called randomly throughout the semester to introduce themselves (2 to 3 minutes) to the large lecture class.  If your name is called and you are absent, you earn a zero for this assignment. Topics to be covered include:

Family Background
Where you are from
Academic major
Why you chose UVM
Plans after graduating
Something about yourself no one else in the room knows

Grading Sheet for your Formal Introduction in Word format is here.

 2.  Quiz on the book, Present Yourself, (10%)  Individual and group quizzes will be averaged.  The quiz on the booklet "Present Yourself" scheduled for lecture on Tuesday September 28.

3. Attend and critique a formal speech given outside of class (10%).  Submit a four to six page paper.  Here are the details.  Due no later than 4pm October 27, 2006 .  Papers handed in after the due date will receive 10% reduction the first week, 20% the second week, and no credit, 0% if any later.  Papers need to be edited by a fellow student in your lab. You must hand in the edited first draft with your editor's signature, along with the final draft of your paper.

4. Give a dramatic reading including voices (5%).  Pick a favorite story to read in front of your lab.  Your dramatic reading should be between 5-10 minutes long and include you adopting the voices of those speaking in the story.  Here is the grading sheet.

5.  Give an eight to ten minute informational presentation to an audience of student peers (5%).  You will be given adequate lecture, handout materials and text assignments to help you prepare for your presentations. Each presentation will be videotaped, and your cumulative grade will depend on your speech as well as a 3 to 5 page reflection paper to be handed in the following week.  This reflection paper should be based on student feedback and your own critical analysis of your presentation and should follow these three sub-headings :

(1) the speech I prepared for
(2) the speech I gave
(3) improvements for next time

The subject of your presentations should be something that you are interested in (indeed, have a passion for!).  It should be and “appropriate for your audience.”  If in doubt, ask.  Here is the checklist for grading your informational presentations.  In addition, you need to hand in your notes or an outline of your speech along with the reflection paper.   Please hand in your materials in a pocket folder with your name, title, and the date you delivered your presentation prominently displayed on the outside.

6.  Give an eight to ten minute persuasive presentation (10%).   This speech will also be videotaped to use in writing a reflection paper to be handed in the following week.  For your reflection paper, use the same three sub-heading format as above.  The subject should be something controversial that you feel strong enough about that you want to persuade others to understand and adopt your viewpoint.  Here is the checklist for persuasive grading requirements.  Remember to hand in your notes or outline with your reflection paper.  Please hand in your materials in a pocket folder with your name, title, and the date you delivered your presentation prominently displayed on the outside.

7.  Give an eight to ten minute presentation of your choice (informational, persuasive, humorous or entertaining ) (15%).  This is your final individual presentation and the culminating speech to demonstrate your competency in public speaking.  You may choose to give either an informational, persuasive or entertaining presentation (or a combination) on the subject of your choice.  Here is the checklist for grading your choice presentation.  Again, after your speech, write a reflection paper based on a review of the videotape and student comments and your personal reflection of the experience.  Hand your notes or outline with your reflection paper in a pocket folder with your name, title, and the date you delivered your presentation prominently displayed on the outside, the following week.

8.  Write three reflection papers(15%, three @ 5% each).   Outlined above, these papers are to show reflection and learning from the three individual speech experiences.   The three papers, three to five pages in length, should be written after viewing the videotape of your presentation, reading the student critiques and honestly reflecting on the experience.  Use the following three headings to frame your paper:  

a. The speech I prepared for :  Why you chose your topic…how your conducted your research…the credibility of your sources, especially web –based sources…the objectives of your speech…how you went about constructing the speech…the amount and type of practice you did…who you practiced in front of, and how many times...the feedback you received…any other preparation.  

b.   The speech I gave :  Give details of how your speech went…comparison of the speech with the one you practiced…what was going on in your head during the speech…what the video tape showed…things you did right…things you did wrong…student critique comments…anything else concerning the actual speech and how it felt to you

c.   Improvements for Next Time :  Things you wish you had done differently to give the ideal speech…what would you have done differently in preparing for and delivering your speech…what will you do next time to improve…anything else that you wish you had done and would do in the future. 

Hand in your reflection paper in a POCKET FOLDER with your name, speech title, and date delivered on the front cover.  Inside the folder, in the pockets should be: 1. Your reflection paper (speech I prepared for, speech I gave, improvements for next time), 2. Any notes or note cards you used, 3. Research materials (articles, photocopies you made, and copies of visual aids (images, overheads, etc.).   4. Student critiques from those who watched your presentation.  Your Pocket Folder is due at the beginning of lab the week after you present (if late -10% the first week, -20% the second week, No credit afterwards).

9.  Be part of a team that gives a group critical analysis presentation of a political or current event (10%) .   The world of work that you will be entering consists of teams working together .  You will be assigned to a small group during the semester to prepare a 12 - 15 minute critical analysis symposium presentation scheduled for the last two labs of the semester.

Your group needs to select a controversial political or current event topic that everyone in your group is interested in.  Find a minimum of two articles (in journals, newspaper, magazines, books, or the web) that take opposite viewpoints and use the Guidelines for a Critical Analysis of an Article to orally critique each article in your presentation.  Discuss the conclusions your group can make about your chosen topic as a result of this analysis.

Your grade will be determined by the depth and coherence of critical analysis of each article, the quality of the group presentation, the support and interaction among group members, as well as your personal participation in the group project as rated by your peers.  Here is the checklist for group critical analysis presentation grading requirements.

Each team member bears personal responsibility for group participation. If you miss team meetings and fail to participate fully in the group presentation, then you have not met objective number nine for this class and you will be graded accordingly.  It is your responsibility to make group meetings and fully participate in the group project.

10. Critique student presentations, class participation, attendance & attitude (5%) Being a critical listener and being able to give constructive feedback is an important communication skill and will help you develop as a speaker as well.  You will have the opportunity to give written and oral feedback to your fellow students.  Signed written critiques will be given to the student presenter for feedback.  Your grade will reflect how well you critically analyze and give helpful feedback (both positive and negative) to your colleagues.

Unexcused absences from lecture or lab result in 1% reduction of your final course grade.  Attendance will be taken each lecture and lab.  Students will also be graded on their overall participation and attitude toward the class. Those showing enthusiasm for learning and helping their fellow students to learn will receive a high score, while those who argue each grade, refuse to participate, regularly come to class late and/or seem disinterested in the class will fare poorly.

11.  Final written exam (10%).  This will cover all readings, labs, lectures, and any guest speakers.  To do well, you must come to class, take notes, do all the readings and study.  The final exam is scheduled for Friday, Dec 8 @ 11:45 AM in 108 Lafayette

Dress.  For the dramatic reading, informational, persuasive, choice, and group presentations you will be graded on your dress.  Your clothing should be clean, neat, and conservative.  Slacks, skirts, ties, dress shirts, sweaters, and dress shoes are appropriate.  Inappropriate dress includes jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, or clothing that is stained, ripped, torn, or with holes. Belly buttons and underwear should not be visible.  You should not have bare feet.  Your hair should be pulled back so it does not hang in your face.   

Fall 2006 AGRI 183 Schedule

Week Starting

Lecture Topic Outline

      Lab Topic Outline  

Reading Assignment Due 

August 29 Welcome to the class.  Attendance speeches. Go over course structure, syllabus, materials, grading.  The "must-knows" of public speaking.  Right posture, poise, voice.  Go over Informational speech grading sheet.   & examples informational speeches (Elephant Seals, Tsunamis). Meet your lab!  Introduce each other.

Sept 5

Attendance speeches. Example of  Dramatic Reading.  Go over Dramatic reading and formal introduction grading sheets.  Examples of  informational speeches (Duck Calls, Chinese Calendar, Racism).  Go over the informational speech grading sheet.

Monday lab students come to another lab just for this week.  Go over lab schedule and speech date assignments, correct lab roster.  Role Assignments.  Prepare for Dramatic Reading, go over grading sheet.  Speaking Posture exercise.  Um Game.

Read the Syllabus CAREFULLY!
The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts. 1, 3, 6, 7
Present Yourself: Chpts. 1-3

Sept 11

Attendance speeches.  Informational speech presentation Example of a good student informational speech.   Introduction Checklist, Conclusion Checklist. Informational speech grading sheet. 

Dramatic Readings.

The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts. 8-14
Present Yourself: Chpts. 4-6

Sept 18

Attendance speeches.  Examples of Informational speeches.  Stylistic Language Devices.  The best speech of the 20th Century.    Formal Introductions.

Dramatic Readings.

The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts.  2, 4, 5, Appendix A7-A10

Sept 25

Present Yourself Quiz.    Formal Introductions.

Dramatic Readings / Informational Presentations

Present Yourself: Chpts. 7-10

Oct 2

Attendance speeches.  Persuasive speech grading sheet. Example of a student persuasive speech.   Introductions.

Informational Presentations
The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts. 15, 16
Oct 9 Introductions Informational Presentations
The Art of Public Speaking: Chpt.  18
Oct 16
Attendance speeches. Choice presentations grading sheet, example of Choice presentation.  Introductions.
Informational / Persuasive Presentations


Oct 23

Choice speech example. Intro to Group Critical Analysis, Presidential Debates. Introductions.

Persuasive Presentations,
Outside speech critique and edited draft due 4pm Friday of this week.


Oct 30 Introductions.  Group Critical Analysis Worksheet,  Beck Weathers PART 1
Finish Persuasive Presentations, Choice Presentations
Nov 6

Attendance speeches. Group Critical Analysis Worksheet,  Introductions.  Beck Weathers PART 2

Choice Presentations


Nov 13

Attendance speeches.  View Final Exam Study Guide. Introductions. Interviewing.

Finish Choice Presentations,
Group Critical Analysis Presentations

Nov 20
Thanksgiving break, no lectures, no labs this week.
No labs this week.


Nov 27

View Final Exam Study Guide. Class Evaluations. The Speak-Off instructions!

Finish Group Critical Analysis Presentations


Dec 4

Attendance speeches. Speak-Off,   View Final Exam Study Guide. 

Labs complete any unfinished business


Dec 8
Final exam Friday Dec. 8, 11:45AM 108 Lafayette Hall