Syllabus for COMM 495.1: Field Experience in Speech Communication (Tutoring)

CRN: 42042; Fall 2013

Days and times taught & location of class: To Be Arranged

Instructor: James Floss; House 54, Room 5


Contact information:

Phone: 826-5422 E-Mail: Website:


Office hours and days:

Mon. & Wed.. 11-11:50am and by appointment


Course description:

"Either propose and develop a project (under direction of instructor) or perform supervised research on a project initiated by a professor." The project for this class is to serve as a tutor for students in basic speech classes and other students.


Course Objectives for Major:

1.   Identify strengths and weaknesses in an applied area of communication.

2.   Gain a working understanding of how principles of communication operate in an authentic context.

3.   Gain understanding of ways to help others improve their communication.

4.   Gain greater understanding of principles of public speaking.


The format of this course is individualized activity.


Pre- and co-requisites: approval by instructor based on demonstration of outstanding ability in courses intended to tutor.


Required and recommended texts, readers, or other reading materials for this course include:

There are no required texts or readings or other material.


This course explicitly contributes to students' acquisition of skills and knowledge relevant to HSU Learning Outcomes:

Every department has mapped the seven HSU Learning Outcomes to their courses. In relation to this particular course, any HSU learning outcomes that received a score of a "2" or a "3" should be listed here. The HSU outcomes are listed below:

HSU graduates will have demonstrated:

  1. Effective communication through written and oral modes.
  2. Critical and creative thinking skills in acquiring a broad base of knowledge and applying it to complex issues.
  3. Competence in a major area of study.
  4. Appreciation for and understanding of an expanded world perspective by engaging respectfully with a diverse range of individuals, communities, and viewpoints.

HSU graduates will be prepared to:

  1. Succeed in their chosen careers.
  2. Take responsibility for identifying personal goals and practicing lifelong learning.


Course Requirements:

            The following are the minimum requirements for students engaged in tutoring as detailed in the Communication Department policies at

The instructor in charge of tutors may require more from the tutors.

1)   Every tutor must:

a)    Hold an "office hour" for at least one hour each week for "drop in" tutoring.

b)   Contact and tutor students assigned for appointments

c)    Attend meetings called by the tutoring coordinator

d)   Engage in activities designed to (1) prepare to tutor students and (2) promote the tutoring program on campus, including visiting COMM 100 classes, instructors in other departments who require speeches, the Learning Center, and others.

r)    Turn in a journal of tutoring experiences during the semester, including what was done during drop in time and during appointments. The journal should include:

-     the name of the student being tutored,

-     which class the student is in and instructor's name,

-     what help the student needed,

-     what was done in the tutoring session, and

-     a brief indication of the insights the tutor gained about public speaking, critical thinking, oral interpretation, tutoring, general communication, etc. as a result of the tutoring session.

      The journal should also include other tutoring related experiences, such as class visits and what you do during your office hour when nobody comes for tutoring. That should be something connected to making the student a better speech tutor.

e)    Turn in a final paper summarizing what the tutor gained from the tutoring experience. The paper is expected to describe experiences as a tutor, describe personal reactions to those experience, and relate specific communication concepts learned in other classes to the experiences. The paper is also expected to be well written and accurately refer to communication concepts. You must name each communication concept, briefly explain what it means, identify the class(es) in which you learned it, and explain how it related to the experience of tutoring.

f)    At the discretion of the instructor of record, periodic face-to-face meetings may substitute for the final paper, but all considerations explained in item "e)" would still apply to the oral reporting.


Fall 2012 Requirements


1.         Maintain one hour each week of the semester as an office hour for drop-in tutoring. Be in your "office," at a place on campus that you specify, during your office hour. You are expected to let the instructor of record know what time you'll be in your office, and where it will be, and your contact information so it can be posted to the Department web site. You may have more than one hour of office time each week, but once you establish the time you must be there.


2.         Read the Tutor's Manual from the Learning Center if you haven't already completed it and if it is available. The information is currently (1/6/12) not online but may be linked at in the future.


3.         Advertise your availability throughout the semesters. Such advertising should include the following at the very least:

-       Contact COMM 100 instructors to let them know you're available as a tutor and see if you can go to their classes to talk to their students about getting tutoring. When you go to the class be sure to be prepared with your presentation so you give the impression that you know what you're doing. Don't wing it.

-       When you go to classes have small handouts with your contact information and office hours on them. You can run them off in the office of have the instructor or record run them off for you.

-       You should also contact instructors in other departments to find out if they require speeches in their classes and offer your services to their student.

-       You may also offer tutoring services to students in other Communication classes, if you believe you have the ability to help them.

-       It would probably also be a good idea to regularly include notices in the HSU Weekly Notices e-mail.


4.         Contact students requesting tutoring. Students who need tutoring but cannot go to office hours will be directed to contact you in the manner you identify in requirement #1. You will then contact the students and arrange appointments for tutoring. You may think of other ways to make arrangements to tutor students and you may use them as long as you run them by the instructor of record first, so they know what's going on and can offer any suggestions.


5.         Keep a log of your tutoring activity. The log is the major record of what you did during the semester, so an incomplete, inadequate, or poorly written journal could result in a lower grade for the course. The point of the log is not to make you keep records, but to provide evidence that you deserve a particular grade. The log must include all of the following:

A.   A log entry for each office hour, whether or not anyone came in for tutoring. The time you spend in your office hour must be related to tutoring; it is not a general study hall. (See point #6 below)

B.   A log of what you did to encourage students to use the tutoring service. Tutors are responsible for developing efforts to make faculty and students in basic courses aware of the availability of tutors, their purpose, how to get tutoring, and tutor office hours. Tutors are responsible to coordinate their efforts with other tutors, if there are any. This should include every visit you made to classes.

C.   A log of what you did in each tutoring session, whether it was during your office hour or a separate appointment. The log should include:

1.   The name of the student you tutor

2.   The class the student needs help with and the instructor of that class.

3.   The specific need the student has for help

4.   What you did in the session (which should be described in sufficient detail that whoever reads the journal would have a good idea of what you did)

5.   The time the session started and the time the session ended. It would probably help you to prepare a form with space for all this information to fill out for yourself after each session, so you don't forget to include it all. In the past a common weakness of journals and papers was a lack of detail about what the tutors did and what they learned. If you do not provide detail your final grade cannot be very high.

6.   If desired, you can perform a post review by contacting the students helped and inquiring how their speeches went.


D.   A reflective essay about your experiences during the semester that includes at least the following:

      (Note: some instructors of record might approve of an oral report to substitute for the reflective essay)

1.   What you learned from specific experiences tutoring. The learning may involve insights about communication, public speaking, or critical thinking, that you didn't have before you tutored. It could also involve reinforcement of ideas you already knew. It should also include whatever you discovered about the process of teaching and your aptitude for doing it as a result of tutoring. The higher scores will go to those essays that accurately refer to a variety of specific communication principles so it is clear you are drawing from your academic learning and not only your personal experience. That is an expectation of field experiences in this department. The more you can do that the better.

2.   A summary of what you got from your experiences as a tutor during the semester, what you wish you had gotten, what you would do differently if you could do it over again, and other thoughts you might want to include.


6.         If you are not already very comfortable using the library resources typically used in lower division speech communication classes (both print indexes and electronic resources) be sure to go to the library and become more familiar with them. The department faculty has expressed the need for students to receive more help in gathering information for their speeches, so as a tutor you must be prepared to go to the library (physically and virtually) and help them learn the resources. Time spent going to the library to become more familiar with the resources should be included in your log, even if it does not occur during your office hours.


7.         If no one comes in during your office hour you are expected to use that time developing your skills and knowledge for tutoring. It is not expected to be a general study hall. Here a few ways you might use your time; you might think of others. First, you can look up and read articles pertaining to public speaking, or other areas of communication for which you will tutor students. Use your time to increase your expertise. You might also try to find articles in the education literature about tutoring. You might get some basic public speaking texts to find out what different authors say about preparing speeches. You should review the RESEARCH ROADMAP information in the library web site at Be sure to include your review in your log. Second, you can use the time reading course material (photocopy packets, texts, web sites) being used in current Communication General Education courses, so you are more familiar with what is being taught in the various courses. You can contact the course instructors for this material. Other things you might do, but may not be able to do while you're at your tutoring site, include becoming more familiar with the on-line library resources and Web research resources so you can help students research for their speeches and learning how to create PowerPoint presentations so you can help students with them. Don't overlook the possibility of finding example speeches on YouTube.

                        Whichever alternative you decide to use on a date when no one comes to your office hour, be sure to write about what you did in your journal, using the general guidelines listed in #3 above. Make sure in your journal you explain what they have to do with tutoring. Be specific! Don't just write "I read a textbook," but say (a) what textbook you read, (b) what material was covered in what you read, (c) what you got out of the reading. Remember that what you get out of a reading might be something you hadn't known before, something that contradicts what you thought, something that confirms what you'd learned before, etc.


8.         If you have any questions or need any advice you are expected to contact your instructor of record.


            Keep in mind that the general rule of thumb for receiving SC 495 credit is you spend approximately 45 hours for each unit of credit. That's about 3 hours per week for the full semester. You'll only spend one hour a week in your office hour, unless you decided to have more office hours, and the rest would be in appointments, activities to try to get students to use the service, and activities to develop your skills and knowledge. Since the number of people who come in for tutoring is out of your control to a large extent (as long as you made reasonable efforts to get tutees) It will be understand if your time doesn't quite add up to 45 hours. By the same token, though, you may end up going over 45 hours. Don't turn any tutoring away because you've completed 45 hours. I also expect that you will use your office hour for tutoring related activities and that you will be available in addition to your office hour.


Grading information:

      This course will be graded based on the tutoring log and reflective essay (or oral presentation). They are both expected to be complete and show that you have put effort into tutoring and thought into your paper (or oral presentation). Other expectations may also be considered, including dependability and the treatment of students who come for tutoring, if they become issues.

      An incomplete is available only if a serious and compelling reason occurs that prevents you from completing the journal by the end of finals week.


Course calendar:

Week one: Develop the necessary forms needed to keep a good log of all activities. These could include:

            Form for tutoring sessions

            Form for noting all activity around contacting speech instructors

Form for noting all activity around contacting and presenting to speech students

All forms should be approved by the instructor of record.

Week two: Contact all Comm 100 instructors requesting to announce your services to their classes

            Start collecting into one binder all their speech assignments for the semester along with schedules

Week three: Try to announce your services to all Comm 100 classes; begin holding your office hours

Weeks x&y: Keep track of various instructor's rounds of speeches. Ask them to remind their students that your

            services are available just before new rounds are beginning

Week seven: Schedule a meeting with your instructor of record for an oral presentation of your activities to date.

Week twelve: Begin recruiting tutors for future semesters. Work with the Communication Club.

Week fourteen: Schedule a meeting with your instructor of record for a final oral presentation of your activities and

            reflection on your semester's work.






Academic honesty:

            Students are responsible for knowing policy regarding academic honesty. For more information, visit: Academic Honesty Policy at or HSU Catalog.


Students with Disabilities:

            Persons who wish to request disability-related accommodations should contact the Student Disability Resource Center in House 71, 826-4678 (voice) or 826-5392 (TDD). Some accommodations may take up to several weeks to arrange. Student Disability Resource Center information is at


Add/Drop policy:

            Students are responsible for knowing the University policy, procedures, and schedule for dropping or adding classes. Schedule Adjustments (Adding or Dropping) is at


Emergency evacuation:

            Please review the evacuation plan for the classroom (posted on the orange signs) , and review Campus Emergency Preparedness or at for information on campus Emergency Procedures. During an emergency, information can be found campus conditions at: 826-INFO or Emergency Conditions at


Attendance and disruptive behavior:

            Students are responsible for knowing policy regarding attendance and disruptive behavior: Class Attendance and Disruptive Behavior at