Thursday, August 11 2022

Mark Ward Sr., associate professor of communication at the University of Houston-Victoria, has written a new public speaking textbook that brings a different approach to a course millions of students take as part of their general education .

“Introduction to Public Speaking: An Inductive Approach” was published in December by FlatWorld, a Boston-based college textbook publisher. Four years into the making, the book represents a complete overhaul of the way public speaking is taught, Ward said.

In his book, Ward compares the traditional deductive approach of public speaking to a mystery murder.

“The process starts with the end result and then works backward from the clues to piece together the whole crime,” Ward said. “Likewise, the traditional method of teaching public speaking is for the instructor to describe all parts of an entire speech and then have students reproduce their entire speech. “

Yet in his own teaching, Ward found that the deductive method could be ineffective. Most first year college students only speak because the class is compulsory and are afraid to speak in public.

“When students are inexperienced, often demotivated – and scared – then demanding a full speech on their first attempt is a big question,” he said. Thus, Ward switched to an inductive approach.

“It’s like building a building one block at a time,” he said. “The inductive method breaks down the components of speech and teaches them one at a time. Students then gradually build toward full speech, mastering one skill at a time until they can put it all together.

By breaking down a speech into small, manageable chunks, Ward found that students could start with short segments – only an introduction to the speech at the start, then a conclusion to the speech, and so on. By starting with short segments of one or two minutes, students have had initial success and thus gain confidence and reduce anxiety. And because the skills were mastered one by one, the students retained what they had learned.

“I’ve never been comfortable with public speaking myself, so I really appreciate Mark Ward’s work in demystifying public speaking,” said Kyoko Amano, Dean of the College. liberal arts and social sciences from UHV. “I am so proud of the work he has done.”

Ward joined the faculty in 2010 when the UHV became a four-year institution and offered first-year and second-year courses for the first time. He was responsible for developing the general public speaking training course required for all UHV students.

“When I was teaching public speaking as a doctoral student at a selective university, most of the students came from privileged backgrounds,” Ward said. “UHV students are just as smart, but they often don’t have the same perks when it comes to preparing for college. Many are the first generation in their families to attend university. Then, too, most students today are used to oral communication in short bites and have not been exposed to much real speech.

To work with UHV students “where they are” in 2017 Ward piloted an inductive approach to teaching public speaking. Students have commented in surveys that the inductive method is “incredibly beneficial” and “a spectacular way to learn to speak in public”, is “easy to follow” and “made the course easier to understand”, and “a decreased my apprehension ”and“ helped me gain tremendous confidence.

Encouraged, Ward approached FlatWorld, editor of “Organizational Communication: Theory, Research and Practice,” an earlier textbook co-authored by Ward. The company was excited about “An Introduction to Public Speaking: An Inductive Approach” and is now marketing the volume as a “new and common sense strategy for teaching and learning public speaking”. A pioneer in digital textbooks, FlatWorld offered the book at an affordable price of $ 29.95 for online access and $ 54.95 for the print version.

“Over 2 million students enter college for the first time each fall, and most are required to take a general oral communication training course,” Ward said. “So the opportunity is great for a new public speaking textbook to impact a whole generation of students, equip them with a vital and marketable skill and catalyze a new approach to teaching public speaking. the speech. “


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