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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The State of Business Communication Course Development in the U.S.


Business and personal communication are seen as some of the fundamental cornerstones of developing a successful career. With proper communication it is possible to influence people, understand people, and share your views with others. Through communication we are able to understand and relate to each other in important ways that further not only our interests but the interests of others. Research helps colleges understand how current communication is being taught and the subject matter of those courses.

According to Du-Babcock (2006), “Business communication has established itself as an important subject area and has become an integral component of business and school curricula” (p. 254). Since communication is so important in life it has been adopted into university business curriculum and continues to evolve. Through the development of student’s communication abilities they are able to expand their horizons.

”The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” -Ludwig Wittgenstein

As a representation of life, the language we use determines how we see the world. To communicate that effectively in a business setting means to influence the perceptions and abilities of others. It provides future businessmen and businesswomen opportunities to influence their environment in unique ways. Seeking to create higher levels of communication is effective in everything from interpersonal relationships to the selling of products.

The teaching of communication is on a continuous growth pattern in universities. A number of audits over the past 30 years have examined the evolutionary pedagogical and programmatic developments of courses (Wardrope & Bayless, 1999). Modern courses may seek to include new forms of communication such as texting and videoconferencing as well as older forms such as face-to-face and formal letters.

The study conducted by Russ (2009) surveyed 505 faculty members from 321 U.S. colleges and universities to determine who the major departmental sponsors of communication courses are, the level that introductory courses are taught, the average size of the introductory course, the medium of such courses, the depth of topics covered, and the types of assignments. The study’s findings are as follows:

-The study found that the most common curriculum in business schools was written communication, public speaking, persuasive and ethical communication, employment communication and mediated communication (email).

-The least taught education communication included interpersonal communication, mediated communication (text and video conferencing), and communication theory.

-The business department has grown in terms of hosting communication courses.

-Juniors and sophomores are the target of most introductory communication courses.

-The majority of students were in larger classes (over 30 students).

-The majority of teachers facilitate the courses in a traditional classroom setting (73.5%), online (3%) and a hybrid format (23.6%).

Analysis:

A vast majority of schools focus on traditional communication mediums which help to prepare students for a wide variety of employment situations. In the future, schools can consider the faster incorporation of new communication tools to help students prepare for changing markets based upon emerging technologies. Theoretical understandings of communications are not being taught at a satisfactory level even though such understandings create a context for future communication method incorporation. However, such theoretical understandings are likely to be offered in graduate courses but should briefly be introduced in later year undergraduate courses. The mechanical bases of communication are heavier in freshman and sophomore years to foster the development of rudimentary writing skills and higher levels of college academic performance.

Author: Dr. Murad Abel

Du-Babcock, B. (2006). Teaching business communication: Past, present, and future. Journal
of Business Communication, 43, 253-264.

Wardrope, W. J., & Bayless, M. L. (1999). Content of the business communication course: An
analysis of the coverage. Business Communication Quarterly, 62, 33-40.

Russ, T. (2009). The Status of the business communication course at U.S. Colleges and Universities.
Business Communication Quarterly, 72 (4).

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