AGRI 196
New Beginnings:  Communication Methods


AGRI 196

Thomas F. Patterson, Jr .

Jonathan G. Leonard

Mondays:   1:25 - 2:15  207 Lafayette
Tuesdays:    12:30 - 1:45  108 Lafayette

208D Morrill Hall, UVM

208H Morrill Hall, UVM

x60042 (w), 658-7496 (h)

x62979 (w), 434-3787 (h)

Spring 2003 Semester

January 13 - April 28

Office Hours:  Thursday 8:30 - 10:30 am

Office Hours:  Tuesday 8:15 - 10:15 am




Course Description: In this class participants learn about various forms of communication, focusing on oral presentations that are appropriate for different purposes and audiences.  The emphasis is on improving public speaking skills, conducting research, organizing information and selecting appropriate media to make dynamic presentations.  Participants develop and demonstrate communication competencies by giving several presentations and critiquing other student and professional presentations.

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 to help you improve your speaking skills.  Recent graduates of UVM and employers are in agreement that the ability to communicate 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.  This course will be one of the few opportunities (in your lifetime!) to study, to learn, to practice, to make mistakes, to critique, and to improve your speaking skills--in short, to become a better oral communicator.

Course Goal: The overall goal of this course is to help students improve their oral communication skills.  This is accomplished by students demonstrating specific competencies in oral communication and showing an understanding of concepts and ideas related to the art of spoken communication.

Course Objectives: Students will:

  1. Understand the basic process of communication.
  2. Demonstrate increased listening skills.
  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 presentation.
  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.
10. Understand the role and functioning of mass media in our society.

Texts and Tape:

Lucas, Stephen E., The Art of Public Speaking, Seventh Edition, (McGraw Hill , New York, NY: 2001)
Gelb, Michael J., Present Yourself! ( Jalamar Press, Torrance, CA: 1988)
In addition, you must purchase a VHS videotape to be used to tape your presentations.

Apple Tree Approach:  Click here to view the Apple Tree Approach to constructing a speech.  You will the need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to display this file.  The Apple Tree Approach is a useful formula for researching and constructing your speeches for AGRI 196.

Attendance Policy: Most of your final grade will depend on your active performance, both as a speaker and as a listener, in class.  Attendance will be noted each class. 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 and be ready to participate.   Since we have only thirteen lectures, every class is important.  Role will be taken.  More than one unexcused absence is grounds for a reduction in your grade by one letter for each absence.

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 loss of points 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.  This policy has been enforced over the years without exception.

Written Assignments: All written assignments should be word-processed.  Handwritten work will not be accepted.

Oral Assignments: Since this is a course in oral communication, your oral assignments are important.  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, just   “wing it.”  Even though there are some extemporaneous speaking assignments, you can prepare for them by practicing before class.  Studying for this class may not always be passive (like reading a textbook or studying for an exam) , in many instances it will be active (like practicing a talk).

Student Dress and Demeanor: Students will be expected to dress and behave appropriately for the assigned audience.   For example, introducing yourself to your peers will call for regular everyday dress, while you will need to wear business attire when speaking to an audience of business people.  Appropriate business attire for men is a pair of slacks, a dress shirt and a tie with optional sports jacket.   Women should wear dress pants or a skirt with a blouse. The speaking assignments are clear regarding appropriate dress.  If in doubt on what to wear to your performance, ask.  If you do not wear suitable attire, your score will be reduced a minimum of half a grade.

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/Quizzes


2.  Three to 5 page paper critiquing a formal speech given outside of class (due: 3/31)


3.  Informational presentation 


4.  Persuasive presentation


5.  Choice presentation (informational, persuasive, entertaining)


6.  Three speech reflection papers


7.  Group critical analysis presentation 


8.  Critique student presentations/Class Participation/WebCT Discussion/Attitude 


7.  Final written exam




Assignments in Detail:

1.  Introduce yourself to the large class, plus quizzes (5%).  Students’ names will be called randomly throughout the semester to introduce themselves (1 to 2 minutes) to the large class.  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

 You should demonstrate that you are prepared for this assignment and not just “wing it.”  It will be obvious if you do.

Quizzes will be announced ahead of time.  Individual and group quizzes will be averaged.  There is a quiz on the booklet "Present Yourself" scheduled for the January 27th class.

 2.  Attend and critique a formal speech given outside of class.  Submit a three to five page paper (10%).  Click here for details.  Due no later than March 31, 2003 .  Papers handed in after the due date will receive reduced grades in proportion to the degree of lateness.

3.  Give an eight to ten minute informational presentation to an audience of student peers (10%).  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 2 to 3 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) the speech I wish I had given

The subject of your presentations should be something that you are interested in (indeed, have a passion for!).  It should be “college level” and “appropriate for your audience.”  If in doubt, ask.  Click here to see 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 prominently displayed on the outside.

4.  Give an eight to ten minute persuasive presentation to a formal business audience (you must dress appropriately, or be willing to accept a reduction of half a grade on your presentation) (15%).   Students will be expected to have improved from the first presentation to the second.  The persuasive presentation will be graded in part on how much improvement you demonstrate from your first presentation.  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.  Click here to see 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 prominently displayed on the outside.

5.  Give an eight to ten minute presentation of your choice (informational, persuasive, entertaining) (20%).  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 on the subject of your choice.  Click to see 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 the following week.

6.  Write three reflection papers (15%).   Outlined above, these papers are to show reflection and learning from the three individual speech experiences.   The three papers, two to three 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…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.   The speech I wish I had given:  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.

7.  Be part of a team that gives a group critical analysis presentation (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 presentation scheduled for the last two labs of the semester.

Your group needs to select a controversial topic that everyone 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.  Click here for the checklist for group critical analysis presentation grading requirements.

 N.B.  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 9 for this class and you will be graded accordingly.  Every semester a number of students slack and fail to show up for group meetings and are left behind by the group.  It is your responsibility to make group meetings and fully participate in the group project. Do not expect your TA to intervene for you or to take mercy on you at the end of the semester.

8. Critique student presentations/Class participation/Attitude/WebCT Discussion (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.

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.

Students are required to make one WebCT discussion posting a week on the assigned reading for that week.  Postings should be made to the WebCT communication lab Discussion Group you belong to.  More than one discussion posting a week is encouraged.

9.  Final written exam (10%).  This will cover all readings, lectures, and guest speakers.  To do well, you must come to class, take notes, do all the readings and study.  The final for the Monday lecture section is scheduled for Tuesday, May 6 @ 4 PM.  The exam for the Tuesday lecture section is scheduled for Thursday, May 8 @ 12 noon.  Mark your calendars now.

Spring 2003 AGRI 196  Lab Schedule                                                    Link to Spring 2003 Lab Times and TA's

Lab Date
Week Starting


Reading Assignment Due 

Jan 13



Jan 20

Go over lab schedule and assignments
Diads, introduce other person. Synergy Exercise. 

Lucas, Chpts.  1, 2

Jan 27

Small Groups and Synergy

Present Yourself quiz

Lucas, Chpts.  3, 4

Gelb, Present Yourself

Feb 3

Informational Presentation (9)

Lucas, Chpt. 6

Feb 10

Informational Presentation (9)

Lucas, Chpt. 8

Feb 17

Informational Presentation (7)

Lucas, Chpt. 14

Feb 24

Persuasive Presentation (9)

Team meetings.

Lucas, Chpts. 5, 7, 9
Assignments to teams. 

Mar 3

Persuasive Presentation  (9)

Lucas, Chpts. 10, 13

Mar 10

Persuasive Presentation (7)

Makeups. Team meeting

Lucas, Chpt 15,16

Mar 17

Spring Break  no class

Mar 24

Choice Presentation (9)

Lucas, Chpt 11, 12, 17
Group Speech Preparation 

Mar 31

Choice Presentation (8)

Outside Speech Critique Due

Lucas, Chpt 16
Group Speech Preparation

April 7

Choice Presentation (8)
Team Meeting

Lucas, Chpt. 18
Group Speech Preparation

April 14

Group Critical Analysis Presentations (3)   

Group Speech Preparation

April 21

Group Critical Analysis Presentations (2)

Group Speech Preparation
Prepare for Final