Using small groups to critique speeches

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Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota Journal




After teaching the basic communication course for several years, I continued to feel a high level of discomfort and ineffectiveness in the critique sessions that followed the in-class speeches. If I asked students to evaluate each otherj the room would inevitably fall silent until some lone soul would respond "I liked it!" Such statements sum up the depth and specificity that I seemed to evoke during such critique sessions. Consequently, a technique wherein the aim was class participation ended up with me detailing the speaker's strengths, weaknesses, etc. Adding to my level of discomfort for such critique sessions was the perceived increase in communication apprehension that such sessions instilled in the student speakers. For many students, doing speeches is frightening enough without having to be publicly critiqued. My dissatisfaction with such critique sessions prompted me to experiment with group sessions as a way to critique beginning speakers, thus leading to my position that using small group sessions is a viable means of critiquing student speeches.


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