SPC 100-H

Speech Communication

Honors Section Topic: Public Speaking and Civic Literacy

Fall 2005. MWF 1:20-2:30 p.m. Carnegie 113.


Instructor: Dr. Steve Macek                                             Office Hours: MWF 12 noon-1p.m.;

Campus Phone: 630-637-5369                                        T 11-12 noon & 3-5 p.m.; and by

Home Phone: 630-718-0836                                            appointment.   

E-mail: shmacek@noctrl.edu

Webpage: http://stephen.macek.faculty.noctrl.edu

Office: Pfeiffer Hall, Room 38.


Course Description and Objectives

            Public speaking is one of the cornerstones of democratic civic life. It is also a skill you will use often throughout your college education. This course is designed to help you develop public speaking skills that will be useful in college and your life beyond college. Our central focus in this class will be informative and persuasive speaking. As this is an honors course, the class will have an additional (and complementary) focus on the relationship between public speaking and civic literacy (i.e. a working knowledge of civic affairs). As a student in this course, you will:


            Gain a practical understanding of the process nature of public speaking


Improve your ability to communicate with minimal distractions in vocal and nonverbal delivery


Learn how to adapt your performances to various audiences and speaking situations


            Improve your impromptu speaking skills


Learn how to prepare and deliver well-researched, well-organized speeches


            Learn how to select and use supporting materials effectively


            Hone your skills in argumentation and debate


Develop your ability to evaluate speaking performances critically and to give constructive feedback.


Increase your “civic literacy” and knowledge of current affairs.


Develop an understanding of the news media’s impact on both the form and substance of public discourse and democratic debate.


            To achieve these goals, you’ll read about the basic principles of public speaking and rhetoric in your textbook and you’ll read David Mindich’s important book  on the problem of civic illiteracy among the nation’s young people,  Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don’t Follow the News.  You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to watch and listen to the speeches of others, either delivered “live” or viewed on videotape.  Of course, the most reliable method of improving one's speaking skills is practice, practice and more practice. For this reason, you’ll be expected to prepare and deliver four graded speeches in the course of the semester. You’ll also be asked to engage in a number of required, non-graded in-class speaking exercises and to write papers critically evaluating the speeches of others.


Required Texts


 Joseph DeVito. The Essential Elements of Public Speaking. Allyn and Bacon, 2006. 2nd edition.


David Mindich. Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don’t Follow the News. Oxford University Press, 2005.


You will be also expected to read a major daily newspaper (Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) for the duration of the term.


In addition, you should purchase a standard 60-minute audio-cassette tape so that you can record your speeches.

Procedures, Requirements and Expectations


Course Format. This class will combine lecture, class discussion of assigned readings, group exercises and group analysis of videotaped speeches. It will also incorporate student speeches, “peer criticism” of student speeches and a variety of impromptu speaking exercises.


Major Speeches. You’ll be asked to prepare and deliver four graded speeches in the course of the class (as well as at least two short “ungraded” impromptu speeches). Your first prepared speech will inform the class about a topic currently being discussed in the news media. Your next speech will be a pro/con speech in a debate about a policy issue currently facing the nation. The third speech will be based on extensive research and will be designed to persuade. Your final speech will be a special occasion speech introducing a figure from civic life who you admire. Your first and third speeches will be taped.


Exams. There will be also two exams in this class, each worth 10% of your final grade. Both exams will consist of multiple-choice, true/false and short answer questions.


Speech Reviews. Listening to and learning to critically evaluating other public speakers is essential to improving your own communication skills. For this reason, you’ll be required to attend and write a short critique of two public speaking events held on campus. Each review is worth 5% of your final grade.


Position Paper on Tuned Out. As part of the topical focus for this honors section of SPC 100, we’ll be reading and debating David Mindich’s Tuned Out  which explores why people of your generation (and, sadly, mine) have stopped following the news. I’ll ask you to write a short response paper on this book to help you clarify your thinking about Mindich’s arguments. This paper is worth 5% of your final grade.    


Participation and Attendance. It will be extremely difficult for you to do well in this course if you don't come to class and participate. Ten percent of your final grade will be based on the level and quality of your participation in class. I expect you to attend class regularly (including on speech days when your classmates are scheduled to speak), to be on time and to stay for the entire session. I also expect you to actively contribute to class discussion, to take-part in in-class speaking exercises and to offer your classmates constructive criticism on their presentations. More than three unexcused absences in the term will result in an automatic grade of F (0 points) for the class participation portion of your grade.


Grades.  Your final grade for the course will be based on your speeches and exams. The grade components are weighted as follows: Informative Speech (10%); Exam#1 (10%); Debate (15%); Persuasive Speech (20%); Special Occasion Speech (10%); Exam #2 (10%); 2 Speech reviews (10%); Position Paper on Tuned Out (5%) and Class Participation/Attendance (10%). Each assignment will receive both a letter grade and a corresponding point score. On my grading scale, an A is 93% to 100% of the possible points, 90 to 92% is an A-, 87% to 89% is a B+, 83% to 86% is a B, 80% to 82% is a B-, 77% to 79% is a C +, 73% to 76% is a C, 70% to 72% is a C-, 67% to 69% is a D+, 60% to 68% is a D and anything less than 59% is an F. Below is a breakdown of the points for each assignment or final grade component:


Informative Speech                                                                           100 points

Exam #1                                                                                             100 points

Debate                                                                                                150 points

Persuasive Speech                                                                             200 points

Special Occasion Speech                                                                 100 points

Exam # 2                                                                                            100 points

2 Speech reviews @ 50 points each                                                100 points

Tuned Out Position Paper                                                                 50 points

Participation/Attendance                                                                  100 points


                                                                                                            1000 total points possible


If you want to figure out how you are doing in the class at any time during the semester, simply divide the points you've earned so far by the number of points you could've earned.


Make Up Speeches and Exams. You will only be allowed to make up a missed speech or exam if you have documented proof of a medical or family emergency.


Tentative Schedule


Week 1

Monday. September 12. Introductions. Having Something to Say: Why study public speaking? Why strive for civic literacy?


Wednesday. September 14. How to Say It: The communication process & the elements of effective speaking; listening to speeches; analyzing your audience.

DeVito, Chapters 1, 2 and 4.

Informative speech assigned.


Friday. September 16. Informing your audience; Choosing and researching a topic; Defining your thesis.

Devito, Chapters 9 and Chapter 3.


Week 2

Monday. September 19. Supporting materials and visual aids. Using power point.

(Note: We may meet in a computer lab for today’s class.)

DeVito, Chapters 5.


Wednesday. September 21. Organizing and wording your speech.; Outlining.   

DeVito, Chapters 6 and 7.


Friday. September 23. Informative speeches


Week 3

Monday. September 26. Informative speeches


Wednesday. September 28. Informative speeches.


Friday. September 30. Tuned out: The declining audience for news and the problem of civic illiteracy

Mindich,, Chapters 1-3.


Week 4

Monday. October 3. Tuned out (continued)

Mindich, Chapters 4-6.


Wednesday. October 5. Tuned out: Debate.

Mindich, Chapter 7.

Tuned Out Position Papers Due.


Friday. October 7. Exam #1.



Week 5

Monday. October 10. The principles of persuasion.

DeVito, Chapter 10.

Debate topics assigned


Wednesday. October 12. Tips on researching “policy issues”.


Friday. October 14. How to debate.


Week 6

Monday. October 17. Debates


Wednesday. October 19. Debates.


Friday. October 21. Debates.



Week 7

Monday. October 24. Logic, reason and evidence.

Persuasive speech assigned


Wednesday. October 26. Building credibility


Friday. October 28. Emotional appeals


Week 8

Monday. October 31. Workshop on persuasive speeches. Please bring draft outlines with you to class.  


Wednesday. November 2. Persuasive speeches.


Friday. November 4. Persuasive speeches.


Week 9

Monday. November 7. Persuasive speeches.


Wednesday. November 9.  Persuasive speeches.


Friday. November 11. Introduction to special occasion speeches

Chapter 11.

Special occasion speech assigned.


Week 10

Monday. November 14. Course evaluations. More on special occasion speeches. Conclusions


Wednesday. November 16. Exam #2.


Friday. November 18. No Class. Professor Macek at the National Communication Association Conference. Take this time to prep for Special Occasion Speeches.


Week 11.

Wednesday, November 23.  8 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. Special occasion speeches.