Task Force on Undergraduate
Engineering; Robyn Berkley, Management; Bob Messler, Engineering; Heidi
Newberg, Science; Lee Odell, H&SS; Jim Zappen, H&SS)
The task force recommends that Rensselaer;
the current writing requirement as insufficient and focused too narrowly
on writing rather than on communication through a variety of media, oral
and visual as well as written.
the designation “writing intensive” with the term “communication
intensive,” recognizing that students must be able to : 1) communicate
orally as well as in writing; 2) integrate visual information effectively
into their written and spoken work; and 3) display a set of competencies
(listed at the end of these recommendations) that are essential for
effective communication in a variety of media.
all undergraduates to take at least two communication intensive courses,
at least one of which will be in their major. These courses will emphasize written,
oral, and/or visual communication.
One of these communication intensive courses should be taken during
a student’s first two years at Rensselaer.
the following criteria for designating a course “communication intensive.”
must be required to complete at least three graded assignments that result in
formal presentations in written, oral, and/or visual media.
substantial portion of the grade for the course must be based on the extent to
which students display the communicative competencies listed at the end of
feedback on each assignment, telling students how well they are demonstrating
the communicative competencies.
opportunities for students to incorporate feedback into their work on subsequent
a policy of regularly reviewing syllabi and grading policies of all
communication intensive courses.
(This review might be conducted on a three-year cycle by a
subcommittee of the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee.)
the Writing Center so that it can develop:
modules that will help students gain proficiency in the effective use of
presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint) as well as improve their command
of matters such as mechanics, style, and forms of documentation.
that will support the work of faculty teaching communication intensive
resources to help all students with oral and visual communication as well
as with writing
to help specific groups of students (e.g., ESL students, graduate
students working on their theses)
Rensselaer graduates must
be able to communicate effectively in a variety of media (written, spoken,
visual, electronic) and in a variety of genres (reports, proposals, etc.). Whatever the medium and genre, Rensselaer students should be able to:
the context in which they are communicating,
needs and other characteristics of their audience
--Using their understanding of
their audience to determine appropriate
language and content
--Establishing a clear structure
or principle of organization
--Creating effective introductory
and concluding passages in which they identify their main point and set their
work in a larger context
--Displaying a clear ethical
sensibility (e.g., reporting data accurately, citing sources of information)
--Asserting and elaborating on
claims using evidence and reasoning hat are appropriate for their audience and
--Applying principles of visual
communication in integrating visual information (graphs, charts, animations,
pictures) into their written or spoken work
their written work carefully,
--Observing the conventions of
Standard Written English
--Observing the conventions of a
particular discipline or workplace (for example, using the style sheet of a