Course Syllabus

Fundamentals of Communication/Comm 100

Fall 2017 - CRN 42253

(revised 8/4/17)


Kimberly Vincent-Layton


Library 315B

Fridays 4-4:50 pm and by appointment


Class Time/Location

Mon/Weds 4:00 – 4:50 pm and online
Gist Hall 124

Required Materials

The following course materials were intentionally chosen to support your speaking experiences this semester because they will help you build a foundation for your skills and knowledge.  The FREE textbook is replacing an expensive text in order to eliminate the cost for you.  This text will provide you with the foundation needed to be successful in your class presentations and beyond.  Our COMM Classroom Blog also provides some of your reading material and allows you to add comments and begin to build this rich resource for future students.  I appreciate any feedback you have.

  1. Stand Up, Speak Out – the Practice and Ethics of Public Speaking (this is an open source textbook available for FREE download)
  2. COMM Classroom Blog:
  3. A working and frequently utilized Humboldt email address

Course Description (What is this course all about?)

This course is considered a blended learning environment.  This means, we will be blending our in-class work with online activities. COMM 100 is designed to provide you with the skills needed for effective public speaking and communication in multiple contexts. These skills include preparing the speech, organization, developing speech content, and presenting the speech. In addition, you will become an active listener and learn to analyze, critique and evaluate the speaking of others. Ideally, you should be able to apply these skills in a variety of speaking situations and as a consumer of public discourse. You will also find yourself making a lot of friends that will extend past the length of this class.  Just last year, I ran into a few previous students who met in my COMM 100 and they had become roommates! :-)

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester you will be able to:

  • apply the concepts of speech making and effective communication;
  • develop effective skills in public speaking;
  • increase comfort levels in speaking publicly to others;
  • critically analyze oral communication in various contexts; and
  • develop effective skills in critical thinking both as a listener and as a speaker.

This course explicitly contributes to skills/knowledge acquisition relevant to Area A & HSU Learning Outcomes:

  • demonstrate the discovery, critical evaluation, and reporting of information by designing an appropriately organized and credibly supported speech, using techniques to inform and/or persuade an audience;
  • deliver a speech using effective verbal and nonverbal skills;
  • critically listen to and analyze oral communication; and
  • explain the role that oral communication plays in human societies.

Pre- or Co-Requisites and Minimum Grade Needed to Count Towards the Major

There are no pre- or co-requisites for this course.

Grading Scale

A = 100-94

A- = 93-90

B+ = 89-87

B = 86-84

B- = 83-80

C+ =79-77

C = 76-74

C- = 73-70

D+ = 69-67

D = 66-62

F = below 62

Course Requirements 

(See Course Schedule for Due Dates)

Course Requirement


Percent of Total Grade

Online Activities

Class discussion, group activity, role playing, speaking practice, etc. (3 points possible daily)

Team duty roles - 30 points total

Self Evaluations - 30 points (10 points each)

Online Activities


Speech 1

Peer Interview Speech


Speech 2

Assert Individuality/Culture Speech


Speech 3

Informative Speech


Speech 4

Persuasive Speech


Quizzes (12)

10 points each


Involvement/Participation and Online Activities

An absence in the first week may result in a drop from the class. If you know that you will have to miss a class during the first week of class, let me know right away. If you might have difficulty attending class on a regular basis, it would be in your best interest to drop. Online activities are required. Pay close attention to the Course Schedule so you can plan your time around the deadlines. Extended absences for medical reasons will be excused with a doctor's note. More than 1 unexcused absence will result in a lower involvement grade. Please don't hesitate to come see me!

Your attendance and active involvement are essential to the success of this class. Most of our class meetings involve discussions, speaking activities, assignments, and online activities on which you will be graded. Therefore, excessive absences, frequent tardiness,  and/or failure to complete online activities will result in a lower involvement grade that will impact your overall course grade. Your consistent participation in exercises, speech evaluations, class discussion, and online activities is encouraged and rewarded.

Involvement includes (but is not limited to):

  • regular and on-time class attendance
  • how well/completely you read for the day and incorporate text concepts into the discussion/activities
  • how "present" you are in class
  • how readily you volunteer for in-class activities
  • how well you generally project respectful involvement -- in terms of supportive listening, nonverbal feedback, and thoughtful verbal contributions which allow space for your own and others' thoughts as well (e.g., being an active part of, but not monopolizing, the discussion)
  • your completion of the assignments
  • your completion of team duties on speech days
  • the quality and relevance of your participation in class discussion
  • the quality of your online activity participation

Your contributions should contribute to the learning of other students in class. Each day that you are present, you have the opportunity to receive up to 3 participation points depending on your level of participation. You will receive:

1 points —if you are present but not actively engaged or are very late or leave early

2 points—if you seem mostly engaged in discussion/activity or if you are late

3 points—if you display commendable understanding of the content, provide useful and insightful information, actively participate and ask penetrating questions


Reading quizzes are designed to motivate you to do the readings so you are prepared to participate in class. The readings will provide a foundation for the topic(s) for the class session. Reading quizzes are to be completed in the Canvas course before the beginning of class and are based on the readings assigned to read for that day. Each quiz is worth 10 points. Since all quizzes are available online, there will be no make-up quizzes.

Speeches & Self Evaluations

You have a total of four speeches. Speech 1 is considered a warm-up speech.  In order to pass this class, you must minimally complete Speech 2, Speech 3, and Speech 4. This is a California State University requirement. The exciting part is that you get to choose a topic that is meaningful to you! Each speech has different requirements and grading criteria. The speech assignments are available in Canvas. You must use the Speech Outline Worksheet for every speech. After each of your three speeches, I will email you to let you know that your video recording is available on Canvas. You are required to watch and evaluate your speech on the provided form and submit the online form before the next class session. Late outline and self-evaluations will not be accepted.

Course/Campus Policies and Expectations

My Expectations

I teach best when students are actively involved in the learning process and the co-creation of meaning. In other words, students engage in lively discussions, complete all assigned work by the due date, and take full responsibility and ownership for their course-related actions. I encourage and expect an environment that is supportive, sensitive, and respectful of all the members of the class. Our satisfaction with the learning atmosphere in this class will depend largely on the extent to which you honor these expectations to the best of your abilities.

Students in this class are encouraged to speak up and participate in-class and online. Each of us must show respect for each other because our class represents a diversity of beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. I believe that this is what will enrich all of our experiences together. I recognize that our individual differences can deepen our understanding of one another and the world around us, rather than divide us. In this class, people of all ethnicities, genders and gender identities, religions, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, regions, and nationalities are strongly encouraged to share their rich array of perspectives and experiences.  If you feel your differences may in some way isolate you from our classroom community or if you have a specific need, please speak with me early in the semester so that we can work together to help you become an active and engaged member of our class and community.  

Adapted from CSU Chico and Winona State University

Your Expectations

I believe that you have the right to have expectations of me and I will do my best to honor those. Please make your expectations clear to me so that I may address their feasibility, clarify them, and meet the agreed upon expectations to the best of my ability. There are no hidden agendas in the course expectations. I will give you explicit requirements for assignments and encourage you to ask questions. I am here as your guide in this learning experience and truly want you to walk away with skills and knowledge that can be used for a lifetime.

Written Work

All assignments will be graded on both content and style and must be typed, double-spaced. It is my expectation that the writing will be clear, specific, solid in substance, coherent, and free of grammatical/spelling errors. Please proof all written work. In the interest of saving paper, please do not attach a cover sheet. Many written assignments will be turned in online so please note the Course Schedule and Netiquette for specifics.

Academic Integrity

All of your assignments are expected to be your own original work, and you are expected to properly reference material that you use which is not your original work. If you are not sure what is considered plagiarism, please consult with me as I am always here to support you.  Plagiarism and cheating are very serious offenses that can result in failure of an assignment or the course, or being expelled. They are also offenses to your own personal honor and respect for your personal capabilities.  It is your responsibility for knowing the policy regarding academic honesty. For more information, visit: Academic Honesty Policy or HSU Catalog. Examples of plagiarism and cheating follow:

  • copying another’s work (including a speech from another class
  • allowing someone to copy your work
  • use of someone else’s work without indication of the source

Missed Assignments

It is your responsibility to obtain any missed information or handouts if you are absent. All information/handouts are available online in our Canvas course. As a general rule, makeups will not be allowed. I am aware that emergencies do arise and that on rare occasions there may be other legitimate reasons for missing class or an assignment. As soon as you become aware you will be missing class or an assignment, contact me via email. Should you convince me that your absence was truly unavoidable, I will do my best to accommodate you. There may be a penalty for any accepted late work. If you know you will not be present on a particular day, please turn in the assignment prior to its due date.

Late Work

In order for each student to present, assigned speech presentations dates are not changeable.  Please see the TEAM SCHEDULE (available Week 4 of course) to see when your assigned speech days are scheduled for the semester so you can plan around these firm dates.

Late work will not be accepted (unless for reasons stated above).

Extra Credit

Extra Credit is an option (and can be fun!).

  • Email me a 'selfie' of your team practicing your speeches and I will give everyone on the team extra credit :-)
  • Watch a TEDTalk and come to class and share summary with at least two things you discovered about the speaker that relate to what we are learning in class.
  • Drop-in for office hours :-)


I believe that in order to learn, people need to take some necessary and appropriate risks. For example: learning to ride a bicycle. You cannot learn how to ride a bike simply by observation. You have to take the risk of falling and hurting yourself. You will not fall nor hurt yourself in this class, but will be expected to stretch your comfort zone and take risks in your communicative behavior. Each speech should be incrementally more "risky" than your first (ex. more controversial, more personal involvement).

Community Orientation

This class is a community because you are learning and engaging with other people who are striving for the same goals as you are, in a situation that involves challenge and choice-making. Because you will be working with this same community for the entire semester, it is important that we not only build community, but also learn about the community we will be speaking with. The class sessions are set up to help people learn from each other (through discussions, activities). Everyone has useful and insightful information to offer to the class. Additional information should be gathered about the group in order to sufficiently analyze your audience to build common ground and relate your own personal experience to them.

Though you will generally prepare for speeches alone, the class sessions are set up so that you learn from each other. You will be a part of a permanent team of 4 (described in more detail later). Because you will be working together for teamwork and speech preparation, you will be able to learn both from your team and from helping your team.


You are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect. Behavior that is disruptive to the learning environment will not be tolerated because it infringes on the rights of other students’ freedom to learn. You are responsible for knowing the policy regarding attendance and disruptive behavior: Class Attendance and Disruptive Behavior.

In addition, please re-read the Your Expectations section above that discusses respect of individual differences and perspectives.


I will be available outside of class for any of you who seek additional help or would like me to review your work and give you feedback before it is turned in. If you have comments or suggestions about the class or my teaching methods, please share them with me. I welcome the feedback and will try to improve the class in any way that I can as I am here for you to make your learning experience the best possible.

Please be sure to answer the regular, anonymous feedback surveys in Canvas to help me make the learning more relevant to you!


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

This course was developed with accessibility in mind. However, if you discover something in the course that is not as accessible, please let me know right away.  It is very important to me that all students have access to all information.

Add/Drop Policy

Monday of week 2 is the add/drop deadline without a serious and compelling reason.  Students are responsible for knowing the University policy, procedures, and schedule for dropping or adding classes. Schedule Adjustments (Adding or Dropping).

Final Exam Schedule

This class meets on the day/time specified in the final exam schedule.


Incompletes will be allowed only in extreme circumstances.

Emergency Evacuation

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

Laptops / Smartphones in the Classroom: I encourage the meaningful use of laptops and smartphones to support learning. If you have a laptop / smartphone you may use it during class to support activities directly related to learning in the course. Computing activities not directly related to learning in the course are discouraged during class time. NO device use on speaking days, please. This policy is designed to make the classroom environment as focused as possible for as many students as possible, so please respect them.


1. We will agree to focus our attention on communication and recognize that culture influences expectations for communication.

2. We will share information about our selves/groups with other members of the class and we will not demean, devalue, or in any way "put down" people for their experiences. Everyone has a right to their opinion. There's no right or wrong answer.

3. We want to create a safe environment for open discussion. Thus, at times, members of the class may wish to make a comment they do not want to be repeated outside the classroom. If so, the student will preface his or her remarks with a request and the class will agree not to repeat the remarks.

4. To create an egalitarian environment, each of us will take responsibility for talking and making a contribution while allowing others to contribute, also.

5. We will show respect for others.

6. We will avoid any unnecessary over-generalizations.

7. We will focus our attention on the course material and activity during class time.

8. No distracting behavior when someone is speaking.

9. Try to keep an open mind.

10.  Be engaged!

11. Be mindful with cell phones and step out if emergency.

12. Take into considerations others' perspectives.

13. Respect others' opinions.

14. If someone says something harmful, take correct steps peacefully.

15. What happens in COMM 100 stays in COMM 100.

16. Be empathetic.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due