Certificate Helps Students Hone Communication Skills

Mar. 2, 2012

Feedback from employers has made instruction in speaking, writing and so-called soft communications skills increasingly important to collegians hoping to succeed in the workplace and beyond.

Dr. Sheila Amin Gutierrez de Pineres

Dr. Sheila Amin Gutierrez de Pineres

In response, UT Dallas’ Office of Undergraduate Education collaborated with faculty from across the University last fall to create the Certificate in Critical Communication (C3). The program connects students with courses that improve their speaking and writing skills.

Undergraduate Dean Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres believes the certificate will give students a leg up in the working world.

“In a competitive job market, an added credential such as this illustrates a mastery of soft skills and can provide the edge needed to land a job,” she said.

So far, six of UT Dallas’ seven schools have courses in the C3 curriculum. The Office of Undergraduate Education is encouraging more faculty to evaluate their courses for inclusion. 

Dr. Shelley Lane

Dr. Shelley Lane

“The designation demonstrates that a given course will improve students’ communication skills, and that the assignments emphasize the writing or oral communication practices specific to the academic discipline of the course,” Piñeres said.   

Piñeres said faculty and staff have long wanted a coordinated approach to improving students’ communication skills.  Verbal communication skills top a list of most-sought job candidate qualities in the 2011 Job Outlook report sponsored by National Association of Colleges and Employers, said Dr. Shelley Lane, associate dean of undergraduate studies and associate professor of communication studies in the School of Arts and Humanities

“Our graduates need to be able to engage in effective verbal communication to enhance their personal and professional relationships,” Lane said.

Dr. McClain Watson

Dr. McClain Watson

Dr. McClain Watson, director of business communication programs and a senior lecturer in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, said one of the most critical responsibilities of any faculty member is ensuring that students can not only pass a test on course material, but also clearly communicate their knowledge to a wide range of audiences.  

“After all, if you can’t explain something to someone through your writing or speaking, who will care about your ideas?” Watson said.  “I hope this certificate will encourage all of us to put the development of communication confidence and skills at the heart of our work.”

Students must complete four specially designated upper-division classes (12 hours) to earn the certificate. They must receive a grade of B or higher in each designated course. To apply for the certificate, a student should complete on online application.

A current list of C3 classes can be viewed in the UT Dallas CourseBook.


Media Contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2244, jennib@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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