Flexible delivery of communication skills to science students: a faculty-wide project

Joe Osborn, Susan Jones, Simon James, Kelvin Jackson, Richard Langman, Kristen Karsh, Jenny Gardner, Neil Trivett

Abstract


Science graduates need to be effective communicators. Improvement in communication skills may also improve general learning outcomes by enhancing critical thinking ability and understanding of the subject material. It is generally acknowledged that students acquire communication skills most effectively when they are explicitly taught and embedded within the science curriculum. Our faculty-wide project has developed a program that provides all science, engineering and technology students with appropriate instruction in discipline specific tertiary literacy skills. At the core of the project is a web-based resource that is accessible by all students and all academics of the faculty. This interactive instructional resource supports the development of academic writing skills, essay and report writing, and oral communication skills. The resource contains discipline-specific material that may be used by students individually or incorporated into classroom activities. The resource also contains teaching and assessment tools to help staff integrate communication skills into their own curriculum. The impact of the project upon learning outcomes for students across the faculty is being assessed throughout 2003. This paper describes the development of the resource, and illustrates ways in which it is being incorporated into teaching.

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