Something I love about Lindenwood is that the university is always striving to improve for its students. I do not, however, think that its recent decision to take Oral Communications off the list of general education requirements was a positive step.
Oral Communications teaches students how to compose various kinds of presentations as well as how to effectively deliver them to groups. I cannot think of one industry where this is not a necessary skill.
Students across all fields will most likely have to give a presentation at some point in their careers. This could be presenting a new development they have made in the field, a request for research funding or even just a normal job interview.
Putting a presentation together and then being effective in your delivery is incredibly important. Take a job interview, for example. If both candidates are equivalent in their qualifications, but one of them has difficulty presenting themselves, I will go with the candidate who was prepared and confident.
Now, to be fair, although it is not required, the class will be available as a general-education elective, so the students who elect to take it (or the communications majors that need it) can still use it to meet one of their gen-ed requirements.
This is positive in that those who want the opportunity to improve their public-speaking and presentation skills can still receive credit for doing so.
Making it an option instead of a requirement, however, allows students who are not comfortable speaking in front of others to avoid the class. Sadly, these are probably the students who would have the greatest benefit from taking the course.
Now, when they graduate and are working in their fields or trying to get jobs in their fields, they may run into difficulty while presenting.
I know that taking a 100-level public-speaking course might feel like a waste of time to some, but in the long run, it is more beneficial than you may realize.
When I took the course my first semester here, I brushed off the critiques given to me by the instructor and moved on with my life. That was until I had to really start to give presentations in my following years.
Now I am conscious of any time I use a filler such as “like” or “umm.” I also avoid saying that something “sucks” because of the couple of points I lost on my final speech for not being quite professional enough.
Could I have learned these skills throughout my other classes? Absolutely. But it makes much more sense to have a class that focuses on it rather than wasting time in another course because you don’t know how to properly present a project.
I think it is wonderful that Lindenwood wants to continue to re-evaluate the programs to give students the most effective experience and education.
I also think that no longer requiring students of all majors to take Oral Communications is a poor decision that will end up having a negative impact on future graduates.