Field Observation Report of Introduction to Public Speaking On the basis of my ambition to one day become a political figure in the United States government, I was obliged to observe Introduction to Public Speaking, COM 110. Dr. Jason Ingram teaches Introduction to Public Speaking on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm in the College of Communications on North Campus.
I conducted my observation of COM 110 on September 8 and 10. According to the course syllabus, the main goal of this class is to educate students on the fundamentals of public speaking in order to advance critical reasoning skills and gain the ability to present a well-constructed speech (Ingram, course syllabus). The main concept of my study was to learn how reading, writing, and speaking were entailed in this course’s curriculum.
COM 110 dignifies the meaning of effectively communicating a message to a particular audience group as a purpose for creating various types of speeches and strategies. It is embedded in the field of communication and the discipline of the social sciences. This course incorporates applications of strategic planning and critical thinking for supporting arguments, the determinants of the rhetorical situation, and audience awareness used to enhance communications skills for use in any public environment.
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Through the practice of organizing the speech, reading and researching proven techniques and strategies for effectively communicating a message to the audience, and applying concepts in speeches and conducting peer reviews for future benefit, students are able to hone exceptional speaking techniques that they can later resort to in interviews, public forum, or any other oral aspect in their professional career. By taking advantage of the opportunity to observe Dr.
Ingram’s class on two separate occasions, through interviewing a undergraduate and the professor himself, and by examining how public speaking impacts various careers, I came to grasp the notion through an assortment of ways why this course is an exceptional representation of its field and discipline. After a short amount of time observing Dr. Ingram’s class, I came to comprehend how COM 110 helped students develop strong oral and critical thinking skills. This class can generally be classified as mainly a presentation-based class with some occasional lectures focusing on key concepts.
The main educational purpose of lecture-based days was to reinforce the content involved in the chapters that were assigned for homework the previous class. Dr. Ingram carried out this theme by having open class discussions on specific material and generalized public speaking topics. He stated in his syllabus that every class was an opportunity for someone to voice their opinions, to actively participate in an effort to create an intellectually stimulating learning environment and to ask questions or request additional information on material that is unclear (Ingram, Course Syllabus).
The professor also encouraged small group work in order to learn the fundamental format of how speeches were traditionally conducted. The two class days that I attended however, focused primarily on presentations. Dr. Ingram commenced class by reviewing the rubric as criteria for which impromptu speeches were based off of. Prior to handing out topics to the students, he encouraged all of them to stand up and babble or recite mostly consonant-based phrases like sally sells sea shells down by the sea shore in an attempt to warm up their mouths for speaking.
Once the students were fully capable of projecting their voices he assigned topics accordingly to the people who had signed up to present for that particular day. He allowed them to choose one topic out of three possible categories written on note cards. After the student chose the topic, he or she was given a maximum of eight minutes to prepare for the speech. During this time frame the professor strongly encouraged that the students go into the hallway so that they could carefully formulate a plan to successfully present their impromptu speech to the class.
Dr. Ingram also suggested reading the newspaper or other news-based text in order to have an additional source to relate the topic back to. Once the preparation time ceased, the students had three to four minutes to present their topic to the class referring to nothing but a few note cards. Each of the speeches were critiqued by two of their fellow classmates in an effort to relay to the student how they could effectively improve their presentation style for the future.
This structure based upon which learning critical thinking and strategic skills are applied to presentations with the addition of receiving feedback from other students allows the presenter to truly build their communication skills. The class objectives of COM 110 are “ to understand elements of the rhetorical situation characterizing public speaking; advance well-supported arguments using sound reasoning and evidence; craft messages for various types of audiences; construct effective feedback for peers and for self-improvement; and understanding some of the persuasive strategies at work in political messages,” (Ingram, Course Syllabus).
Dr. Ingram addresses these course goals through an array of methods upon each class meeting. The best technique that he used for carrying out the course objectives was by having the students perform different types of speeches for the rhetorical situation and receiving feedback on their performance. Over the course of the semester the professor plans to have the students present a wide variety of topics through the use of impromptu, informative, persuasive, and call to action based speeches.
He encourages that students dress accordingly for their speech so that they are able to place more emphasis on the specific message they are conveying to the audience. Since COM 110 is an introductory-based course, the 23 students in my session were comprised primarily of freshmen and sophomores. The small class size signifies that the learning environment is much more active and participation-based than traditional introductory courses. Most of the students that attended the class were seeking differing majors but needed a communications elective in order to fulfill the General Education Program (GEP) requirement.
Since this course was an introductory class, the professor did not require the students to have any prerequisites or prior knowledge of public speaking. Aside from the students majoring in radically different subjects, they all had the common goal of wanting to develop exceptional public speaking skills for their future careers. In addition to conducting a comprehensive observation on COM 110, I had the opportunity to gain insight from a sophomores’ perspective of the class along with how the student planned on utilizing these skills in his future career.
In addition to this, I also conducted an interview with Dr. Jason Ingram to learn how his past experience helps to inform the students about all the intricacies of public speaking. I first interviewed Michael Esposito, who is currently a sophomore in computer programming. When asked about why he originally signed up to take COM 110 he bluntly stated that it was “a required course in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering,”(Esposito).
After hearing this I was inclined to discover his initial impressions and experiences on the class. He enlightened me by explaining that “the class seems to be of appropriate difficulty for an introduction class, but is graded more on an artistic basis instead of the effectiveness of each speech,” (Esposito). Based on his personal experience, he felt that in order to meet these expectations a student must first master the task of feeling comfortable in front of the class while simultaneously conveying his or her thoughts in an appealing way.
When asked what skills he deemed were required to be successful in the class he responded that “confidence and logical reasoning are the most important traits used in speaking in order to convince the audience that the speaker is not wasting their time,” (Esposito). He emphasized that if the speaker presented a flawless argument or appeared meek in any form that they were deemed unqualified for the speech and deserved to be tuned out by the audience. After hearing this, I was intrigued to find out how exactly he planned to benefit from taking COM 110.
He reveled to me that he planned to use this class in order to “convey his engineering ideas to lawyers, politicians, and administrators without using so much jargon that only another engineer could understand,” (Esposito). He went on to inform me how everyone can benefit from taking COM 110 since the traits acquired from the class are universally sought after by a virtually every employer. Once I had an idea how the students in COM 110 planned to apply their communication skills for their future, I opted to find out how the lecturer honed his past experience to educate the undergraduates about public speaking. I interviewed Dr.
Jason Ingram, the instructor of COM 110, who holds an MA and a PhD in communication and is an assistant professor in the College of Communication. In an effort to discover why Professor Ingram teaches his class slightly different from other COM 110 classes, I questioned him about his past experiences in communication. He inherently told me that he has “been the assistant director of debating and held several debate summer workshops in the past,” (Ingram). To my surprise the focus of his research was largely based off of rhetorical and cultural studies. He focused on how the application of political values affected ommunication through observing works in popular culture with a rhetorical point of view (Ingram). In addition to his past experience, I was interested to find out how Dr. Ingram incorporated reading and writing into a communication-based class. He informed me that the reading material assigned for homework built a strong foundation for being able to conduct a speech for the rhetorical situation. He also explained that the only writing assignment aside from constructing speech formats was a topic proposal paper where the student was to use their creativity and perform a speech on a topic that they deemed either interesting or educational.
Even though COM 110 stresses the importance of developing critical thinking skills for communication, it is imperative to understand how it is applied to various careers. Any student at NC State can expect to benefit from the skills that one acquires in this class. Regardless of career, public speaking is viewed as a vital component of communication where interaction with the audience is used in order to create a connection (Zarefsky 7). Despite preconceived notions about public speaking being a one way message system, it is quite the contrary.
The speakers’ ideas are often tested by interacting with the audience, while the listeners’ knowledge and comprehension of the topic are refined through communication with the speaker (Zarefsky 7). As a result, public speaking is often viewed as a constant communication process where messages and gestures are often exchanged between the speaker and listeners (Zarefsky 7). Taking into account the importance of creating a connection with the audience in the rhetorical situation, one can say that public speaking has unparalleled value in every career.
The preconceived notion of COM 110 by every student required to take it at NC State can be insignificant, however, it proves to have intrinsic value. This course not only teaches the fundamentals of public speaking but also represents the field of communication in a variety of manners. Through the use of developing critical thinking skills and applying them to the rhetorical situation, increasing confidence in speaking in front of an audience, and creating a connection with the audience, students in COM 110 gain vital skills that aid in their quest to mastering all aspects of ommunication. Hence, COM 110 is a brilliant representation of the communication field that provides students with an extraordinary skill set for any career. “Cited References” Esposito, Michael. E-mail interview. 13 Sept. 2009. Ingram, Jason. Communications 110: Introduction to Public Speaking. Course Syllabus. Fall semester 2009. Ingram, Jason. Personal interview. 10 Sept. 2009. Zarefsky, David. Public Speaking: Strategies for Success. Boston: Pearson Education Inc, 2008.
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