Effective speaking and listening are essential components of a liberal arts education. Consequently, the University of Mary Washington requires that all students complete two Speaking-Intensive courses as part of their graduation requirements. Speaking activities make students active participants in the learning process, give students an opportunity to exert more control in the classroom, increase student motivation, and help students achieve a better understanding of the material introduced in the course. Participation in Speaking-Intensive courses also helps students develop oral communication competence.
While the standards of appropriate communication may differ from situation to situation, competent communicators have the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand the demands of communication situations and to function effectively in a variety of oral communication encounters. Competence in oral communication, therefore, involves motivation to interact with others in a particular situation, knowledge about the context and communication rules relevant to the situation, and the skill required to act on the basis of one’s motivation and knowledge.