The R-MC Speaking Center is primarily a peer tutoring facility. Trained students
help other students with presentational or small group communication. These trained
students, however, are not experts. They can view oral communication objectively;
they have a higher level of sophistication with regards to presentations and group
work than the average student and, therefore, are peers who can offer generally
good advice. But their expertise is limited. They know that. Both their clients
and the faculty need to know that.
Peer tutoring is limited in what it can achieve. If a student is severely deficient
in oral communication skills, the Speaking Center can only help a bit. Such a student
should be advised to enroll in a speech communication class.
However, peer tutoring has a marked advantage over tutoring by experts. Students,
especially those who are highly oral communication apprehensive, can relax in the
less threatening atmosphere peer tutoring provides. They can approach a practice
without the fear of the expert’s evaluation. And, no matter how “nice” faculty are,
faculty have an aura that can transform a low-risk practice into what students perceive
as a high-risk one. So, we choose peer tutoring, not because it’s more economical,
but because it facilitates practice sessions that are beneficial.
The Speaking Center is located on the second floor of the Neville House on East
Patrick Street (across from the main entrance to Haley Hall). To reach the Center,
come up the main stairs and turn right. Services for students with disabilities
are also available by indicating the need at the time an appointment is requested.
The Speaking Center is staffed by a trained group of peer consultants. Hours are
announced at the start of each semester, and online appointments are available by
following the links on the HAC website.
The Center consists of three separate spaces:
Consulting Space where Speaking Center tutors/peer consultants can meet with
students who need help finding a topic, generating material, or organizing the material
they have. Resources—books, handouts, the SAC website, other schools’ SAC or Speaking
Center websites—are also available in this space.
An Individual Studio where students can practice high-tech and low-tech oral
presentations. Their practice run can be videotaped. They and peer consultants will
sit down together, view the tape, and discuss how the presentation might be improved.
A Group Studio where group communication activities, be they group presentations
or discussions or meetings—can be videotaped. Group members and peer consultants
can then view the tape and discuss how the presentation might be improved or how
the group might work better as a discussion group or a task group.
Tutors/consultants can help students with the following:
Finding a Topic for a Presentation
Practicing; Receiving Feedback
Practicing Group Work; Receiving Feedback
Most sessions will probably be practices. For these, whether they are for individual
presentations, group presentations, or group work, the student/s will be videotaped.
Then, the tutor/consultant and the student/s will watch the videotape together.
Just watching should alert the student/s to what he/she/they do well and do poorly.
That viewing will also serve as the springboard to the tutor/consultant’s critique
The Speaking Center is managed by Theodore F. Sheckels, Director of Speaking Across
the Curriculum. In this capacity, he is available to consult with faculty on any
aspect of oral communication instruction. Call him at 7288 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Sheckels can help faculty incorporate oral communication into their classes
in ways that meet their courses’ goals (in addition to improving communication skills).