Communication Proficiency

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Iowa State University’s communication curriculum, based on five basic principles, seeks to enrich the student’s understanding of the various subjects studied as well as prepare the student to communicate successfully in professional, civic, and private life.

Foundation Courses

To ensure that broad communication competence is addressed and developed at the beginning of a university career, all students will earn six credits in the two-course introductory sequence, normally taken in the first and second years. Students will focus on writing and critical reading, with complementary instruction in visual, oral, and electronic communication; they will concentrate on civic and cultural themes; and they will enter work in a communication portfolio to document their current level of proficiency.

During the present catalog cycle, students can satisfy the communication proficiency policy with English 150/250 or with two experimental foundation courses. Once fully implemented, the new courses will replace English 150/250.

Upper-Level Curricula

Continuing development of communication skills will be directed by the student’s major department. Using the university’s basic principles as a guide, each department will specify a set of intended learning outcomes and design communication experiences by which students in the major can achieve the desired level of communication proficiency.

Departments may select from or combine a variety of communication options that best match their faculty, students, and curriculum:

  • designated communication-intensive courses that integrate written, oral, and visual communication into a course in the major;
  • a sequence of courses within the major that incorporates communication tasks of increasing complexity;
  • linked courses—one in communication, one in the major—that integrate readings and assignments;
  • advanced composition course(s) appropriate to the student’s major and offering instruction in written, oral, and visual communication;
  • communication-intensive activities within or beyond course work, such as communication portfolios, discipline- or course-specific student tutoring, community service projects, internships, electronic presentations, informational fairs, juried competitions, entrepreneurial projects, newsletters, web sites.

Departments are responsible for regularly assessing the degree to which their students achieve the specified learning outcomes and for making curricular improvements based on departmental assessment data.

Non-Native Speakers

Students whose first language is not English must demonstrate ability to study in this English-speaking university. Such students—beginning as well as those who transfer from other institutions—must take an English placement test when they arrive on campus. The test is administered by the English Department and is offered at the opening of each semester.

Students whose performance on this placement examination is satisfactory will follow the regular university communication proficiency requirements. Students who have deficiencies will enroll in special English classes, as determined by the test results.