Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gray, Philip A.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication Studies


Oral communication--Study and teaching


The basic course in oral communication is a requirement for graduation from most colleges and universities in the United States. Therefore, it is important that the communication departments be able to justify the course to the university community. This is done by ensuring that the course meets the expectations of faculty and the needs of students. Although a number of studies have examined skills and skill acquisition, few researchers have determined the impact of their results on the basic course. Other writers have advocated various broad approaches to the course without discussing the particular skills that should be included. This study begins to examine the importance of basic skills and the role of the basic course in developing those skills in students. In order to do this, this study was narrowed to focus on COMS 100, the basic course in oral communication at Northern Illinois University. Basic course instructors, faculty outside the Communication Studies Department, and students who have not taken the course were surveyed regarding their perceptions of the importance of the basic skills. Each of these skills was placed in three settings on the survey; interpersonal, small group, and public speaking. This was done in order to learn the context in which the skills are perceived as important. The respondents were reminded that they were to rate the importance of the skills in terms of how much emphasis should be given to it in the basic course. The implications of the results provide potential directions for future research. Some of these directions are: (1) to examine the possible differences between communication needs of small group participants and small group leaders, (2) to explore the potential connection between the importance of the skills and the formality of the communication situation, and (3) to determine which skills are perceived as elements of effective listening as defined by people outside communication.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 90-95)


iv, 95 pages




Northern Illinois University

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