CALS 183 Communication Methods

Fall 2010 Syllabus

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

Lecture Professor Jonathan Leonard

Lecture A Tuesdays 1:00-2:15pm, code 90238, Room: 427 Waterman

208H Morrill Hall, UVM

Lecture B Thursdays 1:00-2:15pm, code 93410, Room: 427 Waterman

656-2979 (Office)

  434-3787 (Home before 9:00 pm please)

Lab Schedule Office Hours:  Tuesdays 8:00 - 10:00 am

Speech dates and lab roles and Rotating lab role responsibilities

Lecture One Aug 31, Sept 2  Lecture Two, Sept 14/16  Lecture Three, Sept 21/23

Lecture Four, Sept 28/30        Lecture Five Oct 5/7     Lecture Six  Oct 12/14      Lecture Seven Oct 19/21

Lecture Eight Oct 26/28       Lecture Nine Nov 9/11   Lecture Ten Nov 16/18   Lecture Eleven Nov 30/Dec 2

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 spoken and written 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 Text & Flash Memory Data stick (USB Thumb-Drive):
Gelb, Michael J., Present Yourself!,   Jalamar Press, Torrance, CA: 1988  ISBN 0-915190-51-6. 
This is a quick and easy-to-read summary of public speaking that will get you started in developing your presentations.  It provides valuable information that you should adopt in your public speaking.

One Flash memory thumb-drive.   The thumb-drive must be brought to each of the three labs when you present your informational, persuasive and choice speeches.  Each speech will be recorded on a Flip camera and you must view the recorded presentation on your thumb-drive as part of your reflection document process.  See section 12 below for reflection details.

Recommended Text:
Lucas, Stephen E., The Art of Public Speaking, McGraw Hill , New York , NY: 2001, ISBN 0-07250419-6.  This is one of the most popular college public speaking textbook in the US.  It is  an important resource for public speaking and provides a rich background for your presentations.

Speech Recording: Your formal lab presentations will be recorded on VHS video tapes, and/or a digital camcorder.  You should buy for lab a blank VHS Cassette tape.  The VHS cassettes may be viewed at the Bailey Howe Media Library (downstairs).  Another option would be if you had a digital camcorder where you were able to record your presentation and then download to your computer.

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 for the entire lecture or lab.  Athletes are excused only for Varsity Games (and work is expected to be made up within one week).  No students have earned an A in this course who have had more than two unexcused absences. If you can not make a class, you must notify your instructor before the class.  Notification after the fact (Ex post facto) 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 were not 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.  For an excuse to be legitimate you must contact the CALS Deans Office (Rose Laba, 656-0289, and Rose will notify Dr. Leonard.  This should be a very rare occurrence.  

Make-Up Policy: If you can not make a class, you must notify your instructor before the class.  Ex post facto notification will result in earning 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 legitimate prior-notification absences (death in the family, serious illness, or accident) will be made up.  This should be a rare occurrence.  In such circumstances, notify the CALS Deans office (Rose Laba,, 656-0289 who will contact Prof. Leonard with an official excuse), Dr. Leonard, and your lab TA before missing class.   

Class Behavior:  Students are expected to have a positive attitude and to arrive to class a few minutes early and be in their seat when class time begins and stay for the entire class time.  Talking or texting on your cell phone during lecture or lab is not permitted.  If you need to leave class early, notify the instructor at least a week BEFORE the class begins.  Only one person should be speaking during class at any time.  You may be asked to leave the class and you will loose at least one percent of your course grade each time you: 1. continue to talk while the recognized speaker is talking, 2. fall asleep during class, 3. read the newspaper or do other assignments not related to our class,  4. leave the class early without prior permission of the instructor,  5. text or talk on your cell phone during class,  6. are late for class.  Being late to class, leaving early without notifying the instructor, hurtful or strong negative criticism of others, is not appropriate or welcome.  Whining or excessive complaining about this or any other UVM course is not appropriate in class.

    You are expected to come to class with a pen, pencil and notebook and to take notes by hand.   It is appropriate and acceptable to raise your hand and ask questions during class.  You may eat food and drink water during class. 
Laptop or Notebook Computers, cell phones, or any other electronic devices are not to be used during lecture unless you are instructed to do so.

Religious Holidays:  (University Policy) Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. Each semester students should submit in writing to their instructors by the end of the second full week of classes their documented religious holiday schedule for the semester.  Students have two weeks to complete the assignments missed due to religious holidays.  If assignments are not completed within the two week time period, students will earn no credit for the assignments missed.

Oral Assignments: It should be no surprise that students who spend lots of time preparing for their oral presentations do much 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). It is required and expected that you will spend time practicing your presentation in front of others and get feedback.

Plagiarism: Students are expected to read the examples of plagiarism and know when to use quotations and references in writing.  A student caught plagiarizing at UVM will receive an XF for the class.

Academic Honesty: Students are expected to be familiar with the UVM Code of Academic Integrity

UVM Academic Integrity Standards:

1.       All ideas, arguments, and phrases, submitted without attribution to other sources, must be the creative product of the student.  Thus, all text passages taken from the works of other authors must be properly cited.  The same applies to paraphrased text, opinions, data, examples, illustrations, and all other creative work.  Violations of this standard constitute plagiarism.

2.       All experimental data, observations, interviews, statistical surveys, and other information collected and reported as part of academic work must be authentic.  Any alteration, e.g., the removal of statistical outliers, must be clearly documented.  Data must not be falsified in any way.  Violations of this standard constitute fabrication.

3.       Students may only collaborate within the limits prescribed by their instructors.  Students may not complete any portion of an assignment, report, project, experiment or exam for another student.  Students may not claim as their own work any portion of an assignment, report, project, experiment or exam that was completed by another student, even with that other student’s knowledge and consent.  Students may not provide information about an exam (or portions of an exam) to another student without the authorization of the instructor.  Students may not seek or accept information provided about an exam (or portions of an exam) from another student without the authorization of the instructor.  Violations of this standard constitute collusion.

4.       Students must adhere to the guidelines provided by their instructors for completing coursework.  For example, students must only use materials approved by their instructor when completing an assignment or exam.  Students may not present the same (or substantially the same) work for more than one course without obtaining approval from the instructor of each course.  Students must adhere to all course reserves regulations, including library course reserves, which are designed to allow students access to all course materials.  Students will not intentionally deny others free and open access to any materials reserved for a course.  Violations of this standard constitute cheating.

The principle 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.  Offenses against the Code of Academic Integrity are deemed serious and insult the integrity of the entire academic community.  Any suspected deliberate violations of this code are taken very seriously and will be forwarded to the Center for Student Ethics & Standards for further investigation.

Graded Assignments


1.  Introduce yourself to the lecture class

2.  Quiz on the book, Present Yourself  10

3.  Four to Six page paper critiquing a formal speech given outside of class (due: in lab, week of Oct 18-22) peer edited.

4.  Dramatic Reading 5

5.   Informational presentation 


6.  Group Critical Analysis presentation


7.  Persuasive presentation


8.  Choice presentation (informational, persuasive, entertaining)


9.  Three speech reflection papers (5% each)


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


11.  Mid-term exam (November 2 & 4)




Grading:  Students begin with no points (0), and earn points.  Students never lose points on an assignment; instead, they earn them.  Download Excel Grading Template Here.

Rubric for grading presentations

Assignments in Detail :  

1.  Introduce yourself to the lecture 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 (brief Mother & Father history, names of sibs and what they are doing)
Where you are from (location & culture)
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 September 21 and 23. Cell phones, I-pods, or any electronics with ear buds or screens are not permitted during exams. 

3. Attend and critique a formal speech given outside of class (10%).  Submit a four to six page paper.  Here are the details.  Due in lab the week of October 18-22.  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.  The story should be for adults, not for children.  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 three to five page reflection paper to be submitted in a pocket folder the following week (see section 9 below for details).  This reflection paper should be based on student feedback and your own critical analysis of your presentation and should include 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.  See section 9 below for details of what should be in the pocket folder you hand in to your lab TAs the week following your presentation.

6.  Be part of a team that gives a group critical analysis presentation of a controversial topic (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 middle 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. Groups should submit copies of the articles they analyze to the lab TAs.

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 (above) for this class and you will be graded accordingly.  It is your responsibility to make group meetings and fully participate in the group project.

7. 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. 

8.  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.

9.  Write three reflection papers(15%, three @ 5% each).   Outlined above, these papers are to show reflection and learning from the three individual speech experiences.   Each of 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, and discuss all of the topics in the sub headings below in 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, lab section (day & time), 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, with page numbers), 2. First Mind Map draft. 3. an updated re-drafted Mind Map.  4. Detailed speech outline. 5. Presentation outline (detailed outline reduced down to minimum in big font).  6. Research materials (articles, photocopies you made. 7. Copies of visual aids (images, overheads, etc.) if they will fit in the folder.   8. Student critiques from those who watched your presentation.  9. List of Objectives: what you want your audience to know or do because of your talk, how the audience will be changed by your talk.  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).  Here is a checklist for your folder.

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.  Mid-Term written exam (10%).  This will cover all readings, labs, lectures, and any guest speakers.  Cell phones, I-pods, or any electronics with ear buds or screens are not permitted during exams.  To do well, you must come to class, take notes, do all the readings and study.  The exam is scheduled for Tuesday Lecture November 2  and Thursday Lecture November 4. 

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.    No hats, unless your speech requires you to dress in a costume for the speech topic.

PowerPoint:  If you choose to use PowerPoint, use it only for images.  Use no text or keep text to an absolute minimum!  The focus of your presentation should be you the speaker, not the slides in the presentation.  Use blank BLACK slides in between images when you will be discussing and giving information.  It is essential that you try out your presentation in the room where you give your presentation ahead of time.  It is your responsibility to know how to use the audio-visual technology.  It is not the responsibility of the TAs.  Use the facilities scheduling link to find out when the room is free so you may practice many days ahead of your presentation date.

Have a Plan B:  Be prepared for technical difficulties.  If, for example, you planned on using PowerPoint and the computer is broken, be prepared to show your images from printed images on the document camera, or pass the printed images around the room.  One of the best fail-safe backup plans is a small flip chart. 

Fall 2010 CALS 183 Schedule

Week Starting

Lecture Topic Outline

      Lab Topic Outline  

Reading Assignment Due 

Aug 30 Welcome to the class.  Attendance speeches. Go over course structure, syllabus, materials, grading.  Dramatic Reading example.  Go over Dramatic Reading grading sheet & Informational speech grading sheet & examples informational speeches (Tsunamis, Eat with your Hands). Meet your lab!  Introduce each other.  Go over lab schedule and speech date assignments, correct lab roster.  Role Assignments.  Prepare for Dramatic Reading, go over grading sheet.  Speaking Posture exercise. 

Sept 6 No Lectures of labs this week, Monday Labor Day No labs this week, Monday Labor Day Required: Read the Syllabus CAREFULLY!, Present Yourself: Chpts. 1-3
Optional: The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts. 1, 3, 6, 7
Sept 13

Attendance speeches.  Go over Dramatic reading and formal introduction grading sheets.  Examples of  informational speeches (Tsunamis, Eat with your Hands).  Go over the informational speech grading sheet example of Informational speech presentation.   

Dramatic Readings.

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


Sept 20

Present Yourself Quiz.    Formal Introductions.

Dramatic Readings.

Required: Present Yourself: Chpts. 7-10 Optional: The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts.  2, 4, 5, Appendix A7-A10

Sept 27

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

Dramatic Readings / Informational Presentations.

Optional: The Art of Public Speaking: Chpts. 15, 16

Oct 4

Hand Back Quiz.  Group Critical Analysis introduction.  Formal Introductions

Informational Presentations. 
Library Workbook Due at your Informational Presentation.  Optional: The Art of Public Speaking: Chpt.  18
Oct 11 Group Critical Analysis work, group rating sheet. Persuasive speech PowerPoint, & review grading sheet   Formal Introductions. Informational Presentations / Group Presentations. 
Study all previous readings and handouts.
Oct 18
Attendance speeches. Persuasive presentations grading sheet, example of Persuasive presentation.  Beck Weathers PART 1 Introductions.
Group Critical Analysis Presentations
Outside speech critique and edited draft due at the beginning of this week.

Study all previous readings and handouts.

Oct 25

Attendance speeches. Formal Introductions.  Beck Weathers PART 2

Group Presentations / Persuasive Presentations

Study all previous readings and handouts.

Nov 1 Mid-Term Exam
Persuasive Presentations
Nov 8

Attendance speeches. Introductions. 

Finish Persuasive Presentations / Choice Presentations


Nov 15

Attendance speeches.  Formal Introductions. Class Evaluations.

Choice Presentations,


Nov 22
No lectures or labs: Thanksgiving Break
Thanksgiving Break.  No labs or lectures


Nov 29

Finish Formal Introductions.  The Speak-Off instructions.

Finish Choice Presentations


Dec 6


Labs complete any unfinished business


No final exam in this class