Communication Studies B.A. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

Communication Studies is a discipline that addresses communication processes at work in virtually all human activities. The UNR program focuses on these processes as they occur in: a) public advocacy and civic engagement, and b) relational dynamics.
A balance of contemporary social science and critical-cultural perspectives on human communication guide our teaching and research efforts. Accordingly, we emphasize a breadth of research methodologies. Our mission embraces the importance of contributing new knowledge while maintaining high standards of teaching and advising. We see research,teaching, and professional service activities as mutually reinforcing.
We view the refinement of communication skills as central to achieving civility and effectiveness in personal and professional activities. The power of communication inspires our commitment to students and the greater Nevada community.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the communication studies discipline including its theories, concepts, and how the study of communication is applied to academic and non-academic settings.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Evaluation and application of communication theories to specific communication events.
  • Mastery of theories specific to a specialized track of study (relational or public advocacy).
Assessment Method
  • Exams or research/problem-solving projects.
  • Research projects in upper division courses

2. Students will be able to demonstrate competency in systematic inquiry and research methods including asking questions, finding appropriate resources and/or conducting independent data gathering and analysis, while understanding the limits of research methodologies.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Critical thinking and analytic skills as part of the systematic inquiry process.
  • Ability to use research resources (library, academic databases, Internet, etc.).
  • Ability to synthesize information from a variety of sources and to evaluate that information including the credibility of sources, research methods, perspective of researcher(s), and communicative context.
  • Understanding of multiple research traditions in the discipline of communication studies.
Assessment Method
  • Assignments in COM 212 that include journal article abstracts and evaluating research from across the discipline.
  • Gathering, evaluating, and utilizing research specific to speeches, research proposals, or literature reviews.

3. Students will be able to demonstrate competency and confidence in oral message development and delivery including determining and focusing message purpose, organizing appropriate information, and effectively presenting a message appropriate to specific audiences and contexts.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Understanding of different speech types (impromptu, extemporaneous, manuscript, memorized, group), interactional goals (inform, persuade, entertain, special occasions), and audiences (including demographics, psychographics and orientation to topic).
  • Organization and presentation of content of speech using clear thesis, organizational patterns, and supporting materials.
  • The ability to use language skills in delivery including vocal variety, articulation, language choice, and nonverbals.
  • The ability to use technology and visual/presentation aids appropriate to presentational contexts.
Assessment Method
  • Delivering speeches using different methods and contexts in speech based courses.

4. Students will be able to demonstrate competency and confidence in written message development including adapting message to specific contexts, mediums, and audiences.

Student Performance Indicators
  • The ability to choose appropriate written format(s) and message content based on communication goals, audience needs, and context.
  • The ability to format academic manuscripts using APA style.
  • The ability to construct and edit written work using appropriate academic writing style, grammar, and punctuation.
  • The ability to write and sustain coherent argument supported by clear, accurate evidence.
Assessment Method
  • Writing in a variety of contexts for different courses (business proposals, academic research papers, etc.)
  • Writing assignments in COM 212 to learn APA citation style specifically.
  • Learned in writing assignments specific to COM 212 and enforced in other courses.
  • Research papers or literature review writing.

5. Students will be able to demonstrate competency in communication in relational settings (interpersonal, intercultural, group, and organizational environments).

Student Performance Indicators
  • Communication skills including listening, conversational management, appropriate expression, assertiveness, and appreciation of diverse communication styles.
  • Ability to manage difficult conversations competently, including those that require the management of multiple goals, such as negotiation, misunderstandings, and conflict resolution.
  • Ability to successfully work on collaborative projects with others, understand different methods for building consensus and group cohesion, and understand the role of communication in building relationships within a variety of social systems.
  • Ability to adapt across a variety of contexts, such as interpersonal, intercultural, small group, organizational, family, and mediated settings.
Assessment Method

6. Students will be able to demonstrate competency in communication for public advocacy contexts.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Ability to design, implement, and evaluate messages for public advocacy in a variety of contexts (i.e. political, social movement, or business campaigns), for a variety of audiences, and through a variety of mediated channels.
  • Ability to employ and/or evaluate persuasive message strategies including reasoned argument, visual imagery, strategic language (i.e. narrative, framing, etc.), or forms of dissent.
  • Understanding public advocacy contexts including how communication enables and excludes participation in the public sphere; creates social change; constitutes subjectivities; and drives dominant social institutions (i.e. legal, government, education systems).
Assessment Method
  • Analyzing messages utilizing qualitative or rhetorical criticism methods to produce research papers.
  • Creating persuasive messages for public advocacy campaigns in internship or service learning projects.
  • Applying or identifying public advocacy and/or rhetorical theories in written assignments and/or tests.

7. Students will be able to demonstrate competency in being an ethical communicator in and for our increasingly diverse and globalized world.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Demonstrate self-awareness of one's own language choices and behaviors as a means to produce messages without intention to manipulate or mislead audiences/receivers.
  • Recognize the ways communication influences subjectivities, creates systems of power and oppression, and can challenge dominant meaning systems.
  • Recognize and appreciate diversity of language and cultures including the ability to adapt communication to specific contexts (international, intercultural, between genders, etc.).
  • Ability to recognize, appreciate, and honor multiple communication preferences and identify how social categories such as gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, (dis)ability, class, and other underrepresented groups influence communicative practice.
Assessment Method