State University of New York

General Education Specifications for

Written Discourse and Oral Discourse Courses

from the Undergraduate Bulletin 2005-2006

WRITTEN DISCOURSE: Students must satisfactorily complete with grades of C or higher or S a lower division Writing Intensive course, which is expected to be completed within the freshman or sophomore year, and a Writing Intensive course at or above the 300 level, normally completed within the student’s major. These courses use writing as an important tool in the discipline studied and are not designed primarily to teach the technical aspects of writing. The emphasis is on using writing as a means of sharpening critical thinking in and understanding of the subject.

Approved courses must meet each of the following four criteria:

A Substantial Body of Finished Work: This is generally expected to be a total of 20+ double-spaced pages in at least two, preferably more, submissions. It may be in a variety of forms—journal, reports, essays, research papers, etc.—not all of which need to be graded.

Opportunity for Students to Receive Assistance in Progress: Such assistance may take several forms, from visits to the Writing Center (HU-140) to conferences with the instructor.

Opportunity to Revise Some Pieces: As revision is an essential characteristic of good writing, students should be able to revise some portion of their work.

Response to Student Writing: Such response may take several forms—from extended comments from the instructor to peer evaluation in student groups. It is expected, however, that the instructor will respond in detail to some extended work of the student.
Note: Transfer students who enter the University with credit for an “English Composition” course or a two-semester combined literature and writing course will be considered to have completed the lower-level writing intensive requirement at this University.


ORAL DISCOURSE: Approved courses provide opportunities for students to develop the oral communication skills they need to participate more effectively in public and academic debates and discussions. Courses offer opportunities to participate in a variety of communication contexts and to reflect on the principles and theory relevant to specific oral communication activities. Approved courses include instruction on presentation, as well as feedback and evaluation of oral performance. Feedback can occur in various forms, including peer evaluation in student groups, but it is expected that the instructor will also provide feedback to students on their performance. To fulfill both the spirit and the letter of this requirement, wherever possible courses should have no more than 25 students enrolled.

Approved courses generally have a minimum of two exercises in which oral performance is required and graded. An oral performance exercise can be accomplished in any of the following activities, either live or in a crafted recording:

A discussion within a group, where each member will be required to make 3-5 “paragraph-length” contributions in the course of the discussion

A question and answer dialogic process where the student fields a succession of questions or asks a succession of questions that build on and comment upon prior answers

A rehearsal theatrical presentation or interpretive reading

A stand-up monologue presentation of a minimum of 3-5 minutes

A debate where each participant speaks for a minimum of 3-5 minutes

Students will be made aware of the criteria that will be used for evaluation of their oral performances. Examples of criteria that may be used include persuasiveness, organization, presentation of evidence, validity of argument, contact with the audience, vocal punctuation and expressiveness, oral language style suited to the exercise, appropriate volume and pace of speech, poise and comfort, vocal fluency, eye contact, and active listening. The final grade in oral intensive courses will include the grade for oral performance as a key component.

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