Erin Holaday

By

College: Arts and Sciences

UK Core Class Opens Doors of Communication

Published: Oct 13, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 13, 2011) − The University of Kentucky's revamped UK Core Composition and Communication classes combine historically united concepts, while giving students the interactive skills they need for the future.

 

"This is the only program in the United States that we're aware of in which communication faculty from another department —  actually, another college  —  and writing faculty are collaborating on a joint curriculum," said Roxanne Mountford, director of the Division of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Media in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

 

UK sophomore Jake Allgeier will remember his Composition and Communication classes (CIS 110 and 111 or WRD 110 and 111) for years to come.

 

The civil engineering student didn't know what to expect when he registered, but a final project interviewing members of a community that he was not a part of for communication professor Brandi Frisby's Composition and Communication class had a lasting impact on the way Allgeier sees the world.

 

"My partner and I interviewed many individuals in Lexington’s homeless community," Allgeier explained. "This had an astounding impact on me as an individual … it helped me to gain perspective on how privileged a life I live. I think I will remember this assignment for a very long time."

 

Allgeier also gained confidence with presentation and public speaking in Frisby's class, which were not skills he thought about when registering.

 

"My public speaking ability has improved vastly, and I am no longer nervous when giving a presentation or speaking to a crowd," Allgeier said. "My ability to work within and lead groups has improved as well."

 

For a concept that seems to make so much sense, combining writing and communication at UK took a while to accomplish.

 

"It was kind of like wilderness camping," said Mountford. "We were inventing as we went along. It was incredibly exciting and incredibly hard, because we didn't know each other's language."

 

The original general education steering committee was just finishing its work when Mountford was hired to work with the Writing Program in 2008; UK Core's four learning outcomes had been established, and Mountford was invited to help with learning outcome number two: assisting students with their written, oral and visual communication skills — both as producers and consumers of information.

 

According to Mountford, UK's writing and communication faculty were disconnected from the beginning. According to Deanna Sellnow, professor and director of the Division of Instructional Communication and undergraduate studies in the Department of Communication and a member of the original steering committee, the original UK Core structure called for a Writing I class "that would focus primarily on writing with an introduction to oral and visual communication, followed by a Communication II course that would focus primarily on oral communication with additional attention to writing and visual communication."

 

"All sides were concerned," Mountford said. "How would students progress from an introductory writing course to advanced? How will we do everything in one semester?  And how will we connect with communication?"

 

In the College of Communication and Information Studies, Sellnow was excited about the integrated Communication II course, but also concerned about securing the funding needed to launch it fully.

 

"Several of us began to think about putting these two areas together," Mountford said. "Why couldn't we put the foundations of writing, speaking and visuals together in the first semester and then build on them in the next class?"

 

And so Composition and Communication was born. The Division of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Division of Instructional Communication in the College of Communications and Information Studies combined their teaching resources, and classes now include both concepts in two sections.

 

"Our programming is quite innovative," said Mountford. "While many universities have put writing and speaking and visual communication together in one course sequence, it's usually been done by faculty in English and writing. And they haven't always given visuals the emphasis that we have here." 

 

"Similarly," said Sellnow, "integrated communication courses offer all forms in one course housed within a department of communication. What makes us unique is that we are doing so not only across departments, but across colleges."

 

"Combining writing and communication has always made sense to me, with my background," said Amy Gaffney, assistant professor of communication who also teaches Composition and Communication I and II. "Basically you're organizing support for a bigger idea. Having the concepts tied together helps students to learn a deeper value."

 

Communication and writing were originally joined together in 20th century through rhetoric, according to Mountford. "We share this ancient field and have some of the same values about how to approach the task of teaching writing, oral and visual communication as a process … not as a finished product," she said. "We all have the same goals here."
 

Not only will students be prepared to write for future classes; they will be prepared to write for life.

 

"We've always struggled with this issue in writing classes," said Mountford. "Because the immediate need was for students to have to write for other classes, writing instructors had the tendency to lose sight of the fact that writing was part of the larger communication process that humans use."

 

Communication comes in many forms: from writing and speaking, to video and texting. "By putting these modalities back together, we show students that these are all on a continuum, and you get to choose," explained Mountford.

 

The two-semester class culminates with students solving a community problem in small groups and then choosing how to push that information out to public.

 

Sophomore nursing major Allison Betulius designed a website for her final project. "I found it really interesting and fun to figure out how to get our information across to an audience online," she said. "It was challenging, but something that I had never done before."


According to Frisby, over 90 percent of students came back from freshman year during the pilot to finish the sequence. "They wanted to come back, and most of them chose the same instructor," she said. "Students recognize the skills and how they go together."

 

That sentiment — the idea of preparing students with the critical thinking skills they need to succeed in a competitive global economy — is the basis for UK's new general education requirements, also known as UKCore.

 

UKCore, which is fully integrated as of the fall 2011 semester, is a course of study that all students, regardless of major, must complete, replacing the University Studies Program (USP) requirements that UK had in place since the mid-1980s.

 

Those core classes embody what the university believes every student will need to not only compete in a 21st century economy, but also participate in democratic self-governance and live a life of purpose and meaning.

 

"You get to see a lot of growth in these classes," said Gaffney. "Students gain a lot of confidence; students who didn't want to be in class are now are talking to me. They understand the value of the skills that they've gained."

comp_and_comm_1.jpgcomp_and_comm_2.jpg
September
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
Student/Faculty/Staff Mixer
Tue
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: The Wolf of Wall Street
Last Day to Add a Class
Last Day to Drop a Course with 80% Refund
UK Volunteer Fair
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Children of Men
LNFS Presents: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Black and Latino Male Initiative
Advance Your Swagger: A Night with Fonzworth Bentely
Thu
5
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Northern Iowa
Kentucky Volleyball vs. USC
LNFS Presents: Spirited Away
LNFS Presents: Mulan
Fri
6
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Football vs. Ohio
#maxfest (Ukirklex Campus Ministry)
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Creighton
Lets Swing Dance!
Sat
7
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Morehead State
Sun
8
Diversity Organization's Council
Kosher/Soul? (Jewish, African American & Appalachian culture Fuse)
Mon
9
Working Moms Connection
Job Club - Job Search Strategies for Fall
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Tue
10
Massage on the Go
College: Do the Right Thing- A conversation with Dr. Smith
The Future of Islam
LNFS Presents: Fight Club
Wed
11
9/11 Vigil
UKNABJ presents: Ferguson, Missouri: A look at media, politics and black youth in the U.S.
LNFS Presents: Mr & Mrs Smith
Duo Damiana, Molly Barth and Dieter Hennings
LNFS Presents: 22 Jump Street
Thu
12
LNFS Presents: Searching For Sugarman
LNFS Presents: Sin City
Fri
13
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Men's Soccer vs. ETSU
Sat
14
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Pepperdine
Sun
15
Kentucky Week Farmer's MarCat and Craft Fair
Majestic U.N.I.T.Y.
Mon
16
Justice Delayed not Justice Denied: A Talk with Dough Jones
PRHBTN Gallery Reception and Concert
Men's Soccer vs. Xavier
Chellgren Seminar Series: Buck Ryan
Tue
17
Internship Info Session
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: The Immigrant
Big Blue Commonwealth
Wed
18
LNFS Presents: Watermark
LNFS Presents: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ryan Gardner Guest Trumpet Recital
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Lipscomb
Thu
19
LNFS Presents: A Band Called Death
LNFS Presents: Prisoners
The Case for Fossil Fuels-PEIK Seminar
Men's Soccer vs. Furman
Fri
20
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
College of Pharmacy Open House
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Xavier
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
Diana Ferrus: 'Writing poetry has allowed me to live': Cultural Resistance in South Africa
Kentucky Law Schools Forum
Mon
23
Pinterest Party
University of Kentucky Chamber Winds
Employer Showcase
Job Club - 10 Questions to Ask Prior to Starting a Business
Men's Soccer vs. Lousville
Tue
24
Employer Showcase
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
BPH Open House
Documentary Film Screening - Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis
LNFS Presents: Saving Mr. Banks
Wed
25
LNFS Presents: Culture Jam
LNFS Presents: Maleficent
¡Baila!
Thu
26
LNFS Presents: Ponyo
LNFS Presents: The Little Mermaid
Opening Night Bohemiam Festival
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Women's Soccer vs. Mississippi State
Fri
27
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Kentucky Football vs. Vanderbilt
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Green Apple Day of Service: "Pick It Up"
Swing Dancing!
Sat
28
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
UK Chorale
Dirty Dancing Trip
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Auburn
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
#TrendingTopics: Immigration Reform
Apollo Duo - Flute and Percussion Guest Recital
Tue
 
 
 
 
Sep 18
LNFS Presents: Watermark 09/18/2014

Fri, 09/19/2014

Sat, 09/20/2014

Reset Page