Communication Proficiency

Iowa State University’s communication curriculum, based on five basic principles, enriches each student’s understanding of various subjects while preparing each student to communicate successfully in professional, civic, and private life.

Foundation Courses

To ensure that broad communication competence is addressed and developed at the beginning of a university career, all students will earn six credits in the two-course introductory sequence, normally taken in the first and second years. Students will focus on writing and critical reading, with complementary instruction in visual, oral, and electronic communication; they will concentrate on civic and cultural themes; and they will enter work in a communication portfolio to document their current level of proficiency.

Upper-Level Curricula

Continuing development of communication skills will be directed by the student’s major department. Using the university’s basic principles as a guide, each department will specify a set of intended learning outcomes and design communication experiences by which students in the major can achieve the desired level of communication proficiency.

Departments may select from or combine a variety of communication options that best match their faculty, students, and curriculum:

  • designated communication-intensive courses that integrate written, oral, and visual communication into a course in the major;
  • a sequence of courses within the major that incorporates communication tasks of increasing complexity;
  • linked courses—one in communication, one in the major—that integrate readings and assignments;
  • advanced communication course(s) appropriate to the student’s major and offering instruction in written, oral, and visual communication;
  • communication-intensive activities within or beyond course work, such as communication portfolios, discipline- or course-specific student tutoring, community service projects, internships, electronic presentations, informational fairs, juried competitions, entrepreneurial projects, newsletters, websites.

Departments are responsible for regularly assessing the degree to which their students achieve the specified learning outcomes and for making curricular improvements based on departmental assessment data.