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Department of Communication Studies

Communication Across the Curriculum (CxC)

The University of Rhode Island and the Department of Communication Studies actively participate in the national Communication Across the Curriculum (CxC) movement which aims to support and promote the teaching and practice of communication in all disciplines, and to make oral and written communication a significant component of courses across the curriculum.

A National Movement

CxC is a national movement in higher education, as well as in primary and secondary institutions of learning, to incorporate oral and written (sometimes also visual and electronic) communication assignments and activities into courses across disciplines. From science to math, through English, and history, communication across the curriculum enhances the educational environment for students, promotes their communication skills, and helps instructors to meet their teaching goals.

Study after study has shown that students perform better in their courses, and they have a stronger handle on the material they are learning, if they have opportunities to write and speak about that material on a regular basis. More so, opportunities to speak and write in the classroom improve the communication skills of students, and better position them for professional careers in the future. By speaking and writing to learn, and learning to write and speak, communication across the curriculum enhances the educational environment for students in the classroom, and beyond.

Why Speaking Across the Curriculum is Necessary

Oral communication fulfills a number of general and discipline-specific pedagogical functions. On the one hand, oral exercises in the classroom aid in the uptake, retention, and critical understanding of the information and content taught in various fields. Oral communication assignments, from stand-up presentations to one-on-one discussions and oral examinations, are all useful ways that instructors can help students use speaking to learn. Speaking assignments aid students in formulating their thoughts more clearly, testing what they know and do not know, and synthesizing material sufficiently to communicate to others. They also provide opportunities for students to display cognitive skills of organization, analysis, argumentation, and critical thinking. And, they represent a way for students to help teach themselves and their classmates and to engage in problem solving and other active learning techniques. In all of these ways, oral communication helps to insure that students are not simply exposed to course material and forms of disciplinary thinking, but instead that they move toward a deeper understanding of their field.

In addition to speaking to learn, learning to speak is an important goal in itself. Speaking well equips students with a set of skills they can use for the rest of their lives. Speaking is the mode of communication most often used to express opinions, make arguments, offer explanations, transmit information, and make impressions upon others. Students need to speak well in their personal lives, future workplaces, social interactions, and political endeavors. They will have meetings to attend, presentations to make, discussions and arguments to participate in, and groups to work with.

Both speaking to learn and learning to speak are important, and both can be incorporated into classes of any size in any discipline. An advanced degree in communication is not required to help students become more adept speakers. Instructors can learn to develop speaking assignments that meet course- or discipline-specific goals, offer students basic guidelines for those assignments, and evaluate them fairly and productively. In the process, instructors often find their own oral communication skills improving as they teach students basic concepts and evaluate their efforts. While becoming an outstanding speaker requires years of practice, students can improve their communication skills during one course if oral communication is a regular feature.

Links to the World of Communication Across the Curriculum

cac.ophony: Conversations in Communication Across the Curriculum

Communication Across the Curriculum: Integrating More Communication Activities into Your Classroom

Communication Across the Curriculum in Animal Science

Oral Communication Across the Curriculum: What's a Small Change to do? Report of a Collaborative Pilot by Theatre and Education Faculty

Reactions to "Speaking Across the Curriculum": "Teaching Technical Students to Speak Effectively": Practical Concerns and Considerations

Communication Across the Curriculum Program Portal

Need Help Launching a Basic Course or CxC Program at your School? Contact us.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro Communication Across the Curriculum

Louisiana State University Communication Across the Curriculum

Iowa State University Communication Across the Curriculum Program

Purdue University

University of Southern Mississippi

Monmouth College Communication Across the Curriculum Program

Clemson University Communication Across the Curriculum Program

Bentley College Communication Across the Curriculum Program

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Center for Communication Across the Curriculum

Speaking Across the Curriculum Resources Page

Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum

Across the Disciplines Online Refereed Journal

Eastern Illinois University Speaking and Writing Across the Curriculum

The WAC Clearinghouse: Supporting scholarly exchanges about communication across the curriculum

Mount Holyoke College Speaking, Writing, and Arguing Program

Illinois Institute of Technology Communication Across the Curriculum Program

University of Pennsylvania Communication Within the Curriculum Program