Communication Competency Levels

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Communication Competency Levels for Assessment

One approach to assessing communication is to describe general competency levels in three ways—as an overall assessment of abilities, as a summary of performance on a specific task, or as a measure of growth in rhetorical categories (context-substance-organization-style-delivery). To describe these levels, here is the six-part competency scale for multimodal communication assessment developed and used by ISUComm:

Exemplary.This level is marked by originality of expression, high levels of audience engagement, an enriched communication experience, and scrupulous attention to detail. The exemplary communication responds creatively, requiring little or no revision.

Mature. This level is marked by an audience-orientation, a clear grasp of the rhetorical situation, consistency, directness, strong supporting evidence, thorough editing, and an easy-to-follow structure. The mature communication responds fully, requiring only minor revision.

Competent. This level is marked by clarity of purpose, workable organization (if somewhat mechanical), an effective general-purpose style, and no distracting errors in usage or convention. The competent communication responds adequately, requiring limited revision.

Developing. This level is marked by a serious weakness that, despite promising choices in other areas, ultimately prevents the communication from succeeding. This weakness may be in a faulty assumption about the situation or audience, underdeveloped content, a confusing organization, vague word choice, etc. This level could also be marked by an overall level of generality and predictability that fails to engage the audience. The developing communication responds inappropriately, requiring focused revision.

Beginning. This level is marked by a failure to address some key element of the situation. Evidence may be scant, inaccurate or biased. Expression is weakened by vague or inappropriate word choice. Errors in mechanics, tone, or documentation are distracting. The main point is vague, trite, or poorly developed. The beginning communication responds incompletely, requiring extensive revision.

Basic. This level is marked by misunderstanding the demands of the communication situation, by focusing on self rather than audience, by blatant violations of conventions and audience expectations, and by inconsistencies and contradictions. The basic communication responds naively, requiring thorough revision.

Obviously individuals may function at a developing level in, say, style, while achieving a mature level in organization. By reflecting on their work in terms of basic rhetorical concepts, WOVE communication modes, and competency levels, individuals can arrive at a more precise understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.