I am a student in P155: Public Oral Communication. Monday’s article "Students, faculty divided over COAS speech class" provided a good overview of the situation, but I wanted to respond to what Professor Arthos said.
I believe that his claim “Speech delivery and civic engagement and ethics are cogs and wheels that depend on one another and should be taught together,” is correct. Unfortunately, it does not reflect the true nature of the course.
P155 tries to be too much for one class. It’s at the 100 level, so it has to teach students concepts from the ground up. It wants to teach them to speak, but also the basics of rhetoric. Unfortunately, the rhetoric sections are mostly vocabulary we memorize each week, and then immediately forget.
Most weeks we’re quizzed on the meanings of random Greek we learned that Monday, but not our understanding of the concepts. I have no idea where Arthos thinks civic engagement and ethics have been included in this course; I haven’t learned anything of the sort.
When the course does teach us concepts rather than vocabulary, it’s often designed in a way that unfairly disadvantages international students. The quiz about how ideonodes, something small that can be a symbol for a broader cultural context, fit into ideoplexes, a system of ideonodes that form an ideology/worldview, quizzed students on the symbolic meaning of a backyard barbecue, which was not previously established in the course).
The weekly modules and quizzes are littered with questions like this, unfairly disadvantaging international students, some of whom are already working harder if English is a second language.
Finally, the online lectures are embarrassing for a course that’s supposed to be about public communication. For a class ostensibly about effectively communicating information to an audience, it should not be obvious that the lectures were recorded in a single take with only a minimal outline/script.
If the administrators who defend this course actually reviewed all of the materials, it would be obvious to them that the class needs a comprehensive overhaul if it’s going to be taught, let alone required.