Possible future directions for such assessment programs may vary under the influence of new media and educational technologies. For example, the speech evaluation form and criteria described in this chapter already are being adapted to include a computerized speech evaluation system. That software system will include a database of speech criticism comments that can be accessed by the rater while the student is speaking. The use of such a database, which provides immediate feedback to the student, could enhance that feedback in terms of depth and breadth.
In addition to innovative feedback techniques, each of the eight competencies that comprise The Competent Speaker speech evaluation form could be developed into a computer-assisted instructional (CAI) component. Then, when students experience difficulty with one of the eight competencies, they could be directed to the appropriate CAI component. Obviously this approach to instruction is not as labor intensive as past pedagogies, but neither is it as personal. CAI components could be developed to assist the student in speech preparation activities such as organizing and outlining the speech. Several interactive video and multimedia instructional tools on similar topics already have been developed and are available through their developers ( Cronin, 1992). The computer also could be used to facilitate the pre- and postassessment program for public speaking courses. A variety of self-report instruments are amenable to non-labor-intensive computer administration.
The speech, the speech evaluation process, and the public speaking course are proudly grounded in a centuries-old rhetorical heritage. Yet that heritage is being interpreted in an era of new concerns -- accountability, accreditation, assessment. The choice of the speech teacher is how to respond appropriately to these new concerns that pose a challenge for the future. Such appropriate responses should honor the rhetorical heritage of the past, interpreted anew for students in the contemporary public speaking course.
Contributions and editorial support for this chapter were provided by David A. Aldrich, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Backlund, P. ( 1990). SCA Conference on Assessment of Communication Competency. Denver, CO: University of Denver.
Cooper, L. ( 1932). "The rhetoric of Aristotle: An expanded translation with supplementary" examples for students of composition and public speaking. New York: Appleton.