Science Students’ Responses to an Oral Communication Skills Development Initiative: Attitude and Motivation

Ingrid McLaren
University of the West Indies

Situated within the CID (Communication in the Disciplines) theoretical framework that promotes the focus of communication instruction on the oral genre standards of effectiveness, and employing a transdisciplinary approach, the current study explores science students’ attitudes and motivation concerning an oral skills development (OSD) intervention. The cross-disciplinary based intervention involved the delivery of an oral skills development module over a ten-week period to thirty-four chemistry students in which staff from the English language section partnered with lecturers in chemistry to enhance these students’ oral presentation of chemistry-based content. The performance of students participating in the module was compared with that of non-OSD chemistry students to verify whether there was a significant difference in performance. Surveys were also undertaken on OSD Chemistry students to see whether or not there was a significant change in attitude after the intervention. Results revealed a significant difference between OSD and non OSD students on a similar oral presentation task with OSD students attaining a higher level of performance. OSD students also demonstrated a positive, significant change in attitude post intervention. Implications of the findings, as well as possible areas for further research, are discussed.

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