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Undergraduate Communication Outcomes

Group of ethnically diverse students communicating in a study space.Overview

The Undergraduate Communication Outcomes Initiative is a campus-wide effort directed at strengthening students’ communication capacities. These capacities are a core component of the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, which points out that “Communication skills are important work-ready skills and will help our students be successful in their chosen fields.” The undergraduate communication outcomes, endorsed by Dean’s Council in May 2015, include three central capacities: comprehension, conceptualization, and contextualization. In implementing communication courses, Faculties and their academic units build on these outcomes, and further develop them to address discipline- and field-specific content.

Key Components

  • Resource commitment. The Provost’s office will support all Faculties in the provision of at least one course for all undergraduates that is centrally focused on the undergraduate communication outcomes and taught primarily by continuing faculty (i.e., tenure line faculty members, continuing lecturers, and definite term lecturers).
  • Faculty engagement. It is crucial that in regard to the communication outcomes and courses, Faculties are committed to the highest level of curricular and pedagogical quality, to a reliance on those with disciplinary expertise at and beyond the University of Waterloo, and to consultation and collaboration both within and beyond their units.
  • Accountability. Clear processes for accountability and review will be central to the success of the undergraduate communication outcomes initiatives.

Timeline and Next Steps

By fall 2019, the English Language Proficiency Exam will no longer be offered to students at the University of Waterloo. In its place, undergraduate students will successfully complete at least one course that addresses the undergraduate communication outcomes. Ideally, by this date, all Faculties will have a course in place for first year students that focuses on the undergraduate communication outcomes. Departments and programs, in consultation with their Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies, are shaping and will continue to contribute to the specific content and format of these courses.

Additional Resources and Information

The office of the Associate Vice President, Academic has identified the mandate of the Steering Committee, English Language Competency Initiative as providing a place for dialogue and consultation that will lead to the successful implementation of the undergraduate communication outcomes in each of the Faculties. Other information of possible interest includes university-wide communication regarding the initiative, as well as further detail regarding the outcomes, central components of writing- and communication- intensive courses, and the initiative itself. Faculty members can direct questions about the outcomes and courses to their Associate Dean responsible for programming and curriculum. Staff can direct questions to the chairs or directors of their respective units.