Assuring Quality Education for Academic and Occupational Success: The Case for Including Rhetoric in the Undergraduate Curriculum in a Global Context

Republic of Kosovo, ID CLEaR2015-235

This paper is part of a larger project which investigates possibilities of including the study of Rhetoric into all undergraduate academic programs to assure quality higher education while meeting today’s students’ academic and occupational needs. To meet world standards for quality higher education all universities in south Eastern Europe should start thinking of becoming competitive in the global academic arena. To become competitive, these universities must adapt and adjust their curricula to meet students’ academic needs and. equally important, to prepare students to negotiate and sustain their future careers. Today, universities face a challenge, yet an asset, called multiculturalism. Every student has to become aware of the existence of diversity, not only ethnic, but cultural, religious, sexual, racial, and spiritual. Also, to be academically successful, students need to develop their own thesis and defend them. To be able to do that, they need to formulate argumentative discourses to persuade their peers that their standpoints are valid. Similarly, since we prepare our students to develop successful careers we need to make sure they know how to create rhetorical discourses to actively participate in the negotiation of their professional life. Creating and maintaining healthy relationships with people in the workplace is key to succeeding in any business and organizational context. Finally, being an engaged citizen in the democratic processes requires understanding and application of basic public speaking skills and critical consumption of rhetorical situations.

As a result, developing a program that would allow undergraduate students to study such human and liberal phenomena will not only make our programs more attractive but at the same time will make our students more successful in their general academic endeavors as well as in their professional careers. Hence, the hybrid public speaking course, as it is commonly known in the United States, offers students the possibility to equip themselves with hands on theory and practice to be able to achieve all the above mentioned objectives.

This study reviews related literature which supports the claim that a broad-based/hybrid basic communication class is vital in an undergraduate curriculum. It provides grounds that public speaking is a postulate in the United States curricula across universities; a fact much appreciated which is also considered as an asset. The National Communication Association and relevant scholars and researchers such as Morreale, Hugenberg, &Worley (2006), Morreale, Osborn & Pearson (2000), the Carnegie Foundation, the Boyer Commission, the Hart Research Associates (2009), Morreale & Pearson (2008), Dannels (2001), Morreale & Backlund (2002), and other relevant researchers in the field are synthesized to provide enough grounds on the relevance of this study hence support the claims that a hybrid public speaking class is valuable for students’ academic and occupational success.

The research method used in this study is supported with a unique and well known qualitative research method widely known among qualitative researchers as the method of phenomenology. Two major methods were taken into consideration, phenomenology and grounded theory, however, phenomenology closely correlates with the intent of the study. Both methods allow the conduct of content analysis; however, they differ in the approach they take towards studying a social phenomenon. Namely, grounded theory research is considered an inductive approach as opposed to other methods which are deductive. So, grounded theory, as an inductive approach, tends to discover a theory rather than verify one (Gibbs (a), 2010).

20 students were interviewed to study the lived experiences and as well as the perceived importance of broad-based/hybrid basic communication class. 10 students were randomly chosen from a group of students who took a similar class and 10 were chose from a group of students who never took a similar class. Interview answers were studied and themes were generated to help answer the research questions which stem out as the main interest of the study.

The results of the study provide themes which clearly help answer the research questions and are in support of the standpoint that a broad-based/hybrid basic communication class is vital in an undergraduate curriculum.  

 

References:

National Communication Association. (1998). Speaking and listening competencies for college students. Washington D.C.: National Communication Association.

Morreale, S. P., Osborn, M. M., & Pearson, J.C. (2000). Why communication is important: A

rationale for the centrality of the study of communication. Journal of the Association for

Communication Administration, 29, 1-25.

Morreale, S.P., & Pearson, J.C. (2008). Why communication is important: The centrality of the discipline in the 21st century. Communication Education, 57(2), 224-240.

Morreale, S., Hugenberg, L., & Worley, D. (2006). The basic communication course at U.S. colleges and universities in the 21st century: Study VII. Communication Education, 55, 415-437.

Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University. (1998).Reinventing undergraduate education: A blueprint for America's research universities. NY: State University of New York.

Hart Research Associates (2009). Raising the bar: Employers' views on college learning in the wake of the economic downturn. Retrieved on September 14, 2013, from

http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/2009_EmployerSurvey.pdf.