Speech communications course utilizes small group work, service learning
4 mins read

Speech communications course utilizes small group work, service learning

One course on campus is encouraging students to enhance their small group communication skills.

Taught by Leah Seurer, an assistant speech and communications professor, small group communication helps students gain skills in working closely with other people.

“Certainly when we get jobs and are out in the workforce, more often than not you’re working in small groups,” Seurer said.

Though some may be better at group communication than others, Seurer said it’s an important thing to continually work on.

“We think of it just as something we have to do, something that some people like, some people don’t like, some people are good at, some people who aren’t good at,” she said. “In reality, there are ways that we can improve ourselves, and there are ways that we can improve our communication that really make all of those experiences across the board better.”

Small group communication students had to pick an existing organization and help its members plan, or pick an issue on campus and create an event about it.

The course’s 16 students split into four teams of four. Their events are focused on campus safety, a food drive for the Vermillion Food Pantry, event planning for Lost and Found and alcohol awareness and education.

Junior Marley Hanson was part of the campus safety group. She said discussing ways to stay safe in college is an important topic.

“We talked about how we didn’t know a lot about safety on campus, so originally we wanted a self-defense demonstration, but it kind of switched,” she said. “This was just as beneficial, finding out the resources we have on campus.”

Hanson said the class goes well with her future plans.

“I want to go into public relations, and I’m going to work with a bunch of small groups,” she said. “I thought this would be a beneficial class to see how I work in small groups and how to best be in a small group.”

Rodrigo Balmaceda, a sophomore in the safety on campus group, said he enjoyed the “hands-on” aspect of the course.

“We do a lot more than just sit there and get all these PowerPoints presented to us,” he said. “It’s a lot more outside class work.”

Seurer said the events focus on how to help USD organizations.

“How can we help you rather than saying, ‘Here’s how we’re going to help you’?” Seurer said. “Letting that organization maintain their voice and not speaking for that organization, but really listening to that organization was the primary chunk of the first half of the class.”

Lesley Swart, a junior and part of the safety on campus group, said the course was beneficial.

“It doesn’t feel like a class to me, it’s more like a service learning project,” Swart said. “It makes you discover how well you work in a group, which is really important. In the future in any group force, you’re going to have to work with other people.”

Seurer said she thought the class went well and she enjoyed working with her students.

“They’re very good people — they are excited to do something good for someone else,” she said. “The assignments made sense, and the assignments were exciting to them.”

Seurer hopes her students understand the importance of working in small groups after this semester.

“I think we’re all really good about talking about who we are and what we like, but we’re not as good at understanding how we act a little bit differently when we’re in groups,” she said. “I think they’ve learned a lot, and I think a lot of the congrats goes on them.”