Transition Planning
Email Communications
PowerPoint Slides
to be used in conjunction
with the
Facilitator’s Guide
Copyright © 2012, East Carolina University.
Recommended citation:
Williams, S., & Henderson, K. (2012). Transition planning
considerations: Email communication – A PowerPoint
presentation for professional development. Modules
Addressing Special Education and Teacher Education
(MAST). Greenville, NC: East Carolina University.
This resource includes contributions from the module
developer and MAST Module Project colleagues (in
alphabetical order) Kelly Henderson (Facilitator Guide
Editor), Tanner Jones (Web Designer), Diane Kester
(Editor), Sue Byrd Steinweg (Project Director), Bradley
Baggett (Graduate Assistant), and Sandra Hopfengardner
Warren (Principal Investigator).
Session Agenda
Session Goal and Objectives
Transition Planning
Written Communication
Session Agenda, continued
Pet Peeves
E-mail Tips
Lesson Plan
It is often only a matter of time before a college instructor
receives an e-mail similar to this one from a student.
Introduction, continued
• When students transition to the college
setting, even one right in their hometown,
they experience a culture change.
• College administrators, professors, and
advisors expect students to be
independently motivated, self advocates,
and able to interact professionally.
• Written communication is one way students
convey information about themselves to
these postsecondary professionals.
Introduction, continued
• Written communication, especially via email, is becoming one of the most
commonly used forms of communication
on college campuses between faculty/staff
and students.
• Students are expected to have this skill
internalized before coming to campus, but
direct instruction about how to
communicate effectively in writing will be
required for some students.
Introduction, continued
• It can’t be assumed that all students in
transition will develop this skill
• When students compose e-mails or other
forms of written correspondence, they
are communicating something about
themselves beyond the specific content
or question they want to share.
Introduction, continued
• This module is focused on helping
students ensure that they accomplish
what they intend to communicate.
Introduction, Activity
• Read over the email examples.
• Describe how you would react to
receiving it.
• Share your first impressions of the
writer and the scenario.
Session Goal
• Goal: to explore common uses for e-mail
communication in postsecondary
education settings (e.g. community
college, college, university) and to
share/provide ideas for helping students in
transition adjust effectively to this new use
of written communication.
Session Objectives
Participants will be able to:
1. Identify common uses of e-mail
communication in postsecondary
education settings;
2. Identify common pitfalls of new college
students in regard to effective e-mail
Session Objectives, continued
3. Identify 10 basic guidelines to teach to
students regarding e-mail
communication in the college setting;
4. Evaluate implementation of the
guidelines in sample e-mail scenarios; a
5. Demonstrate understanding of the
module content and its relation to
transition planning and cited research
Transition Planning
• Transition planning must begin to be
incorporated into a student’s
Individualized Education Program when
that student reaches 16 years of age
(Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act, IDEA 2004).
• However, states and school systems have
the option of beginning this process much
Transition Planning, continued
• A proactive process to transition
preparation is critical for most students –
especially students for whom postsecondary education is a consideration.
• Even as early as middle school some
students begin to participate in classes
and select programs of study that will have
a direct impact on if they have the
necessary coursework to apply for college.
Transition Planning, continued
• Key Transition Planning Considerations
include (but are not limited to):
– The development of appropriate and
measurable postsecondary goals in relation
to training, education, employment, and
(where appropriate) independent living
– Identification of transition services that will
be necessary for the student to reach the
selected goals.
Transition Planning, continued
– A statement, written no later than 1 year
before the child reaches the age of majority
under state law, that the child has been
informed of his or her rights, and that these
rights will transfer to the child on reaching the
age of majority.
– The articulation of a summary of the student’s
academic achievement and functional
performance [SOP], including
recommendations on how to assist the
student in meeting postsecondary goals.
Transition Planning, continued
• For a student with a transition goal in the
area of education and/or training to “go
to college”:
– Services to ensure that the student takes
the correct high school classes and help
the student to secure recent
evaluation/eligibility data are important, but
may not be sufficient.
Transition Planning, continued
– Other transition planning may involve helping
the student to understand the culture and
requirements specific to the postsecondary
environment - including attention to potential
changing communication needs in that
Transition Planning, continued
– Up to this point, communication regarding
the student’s academic needs and
questions may have been done for
– Opportunities for written and verbal
communication experienced may also
often have been informal in nature.
Transition Planning, continued
• Transition planning can include direct
instruction and practice opportunities for
students to build effective professional
communication skills that are appropriate
for postsecondary learning environments.
Transition Planning, continued
• We cannot assume that students will
automatically and effectively transfer
use of a technology that has previously
been used for social purposes to using
the same tool as a learning technology.
Transition Planning, Activity
• Watch the video at
4photos.html .
• In small groups, take the perspective of both
the email writer and the faculty member.
• What potentially-appropriate skills or
competencies did the writer demonstrate?
What skills were lacking? What dilemma does
the faculty member face?
Transition Planning, Activity,
• Regardless of the decision reached, this
might not be the sort of self-advocacy we
want our students to face right off the bat
when they enter college – or the type of
impression they will want to make.
• What could be done to help students in
transition avoid being the source of these
sorts of conversations between faculty
• Rather than having to wait for an
appointment or for posted office hours,
students on college campuses can now
communicate conveniently with
instructors via e-mail.
• Some have predicted that this tool will
actually increase the amount of
communication between students and
Research, continued
• For apprehensive students, this may
have the advantage of creating a
nonthreatening way to make initial and
ongoing connections with faculty (Duran,
Kelly, & Keaton, 2005).
• Although e-mail messages between
instructors and students have become a
common source of communication, using
an e-mail style that is overly casual may
do more harm than good (Russell, 2009).
Research, continued
• Overly casual student-generated e-mail
messages were found to cause
instructors to like the students less, view
them as less credible, determine the
message to be of lower quality, and be
less willing to comply with the requests
in the e-mail messages (Stephens, Houser, &
Cowan, 2009).
Research, continued
• Instructors may view casually written emails as careless and cocky, even if
students do not write with these
intentions (Duran, Kelly, & Keaton).
• Instructor impressions based on overly
casual e-mails also do not seem to be
nearly as related to generational issues
as some may think (Stephens, Houser, &
Research, continued
• But some research has demonstrated
that people who send grammatically
correct e-mails are viewed more
positively – even as being friendlier and
more likable (Stephens, Houser, & Cowan).
Research, continued
• Students will not only have the
opportunity to communicate with
instructors via e-mail, but will likely also
use this tool for communication with
other students, disability support service
providers, advisors, and administrators.
• Doing so effectively can make a positive
difference for students.
Research, continued
• Teachers supporting students in transition
can help students learn to “flip the switch”
(Turner, 2009) between text-talk and standard
English when sending e-mails to different
• If done as a part of transition planning,
students may be more likely to enter the
post-secondary campus more prepared for
different types of interaction and
Research, Activity
• Use to have small
groups of participants brainstorm as
many words that they can think of that
relate to the terms “communication”
and/or “e-mail”. Use the resulting visual
to frame the discussion for the rest of
the day.
Written Communication
Look at these definitions of
– “the imparting or interchange of thoughts,
opinions, or information by speech,
writing, or signs.” (; and
– “to convey knowledge of or information
about: make known: to reveal by clear
signs" (
Written Communication, continued
• Examples of Technology-based Written
Communication Frequently Used in
College Settings:
– Students frequently use technological tools
to communicate both formally and
informally in the college setting.
– The following graphic displays some of
these different uses of technology for
written dialogue and information sharing:
Written Communication, continued
Written Communication, continued
• Now more frequent than ever, written
communication in the college setting takes
many forms: e-mail accounts, discussion
boards, online classes, online advising
calendars, even online IM support from
university librarians.
• Students need to utilize professional
communication that falls somewhere
between the casual text lingo used with
friends and the formatting used in a
business letter.
Written Communication, continued
• E-mail communication remains one of
the most common forms of faculty-tostudent communication.
• College professionals still expect a
professional and respectful tone to be
maintained in these types of
correspondence – just as in face-to-face
Written Communication- Activity
• Listen to the audio at
4photos.html .
• Individually, list the various functions you
have facilitated by email communication in
the past week, both professionally and
• Share your results, recording on chart paper
or white board the many functions supported
by email correspondence.
Pet Peeves
• Instructor Pet Peeves: As part of the
development of this module, 15
instructors were informally polled to
share their “pet peeves” regarding emails they have received from students.
• These informal responses aligned
closely with the research literature.
Pet Peeves, continued
• If a student takes the time to contact a
faculty member, she or he generally
needs some support.
• Learning how to avoid some basic pitfalls
that frustrate faculty members may make
it more likely that the instructor responds
favorably. Giving students in transition a
heads-up about these instructor
preferences and the content of this
module will possibly help them avoid
some unnecessary bad impressions!
Pet Peeves, continued
• Many faculty members report receiving
emails with no more text than something
like, “hey I cant get into the test”.
• The faculty member recipient has no idea
who is having difficulty (no student
identification), what class the student is
in, or which test is being attempted.
• No capitalization or punctuation is used,
and a very informal “hey” begins the
Pet Peeves, continued
• This type of email exemplifies the most
common types of “pet peeves”
described in this informal survey.
• Teachers of students in transition to
postsecondary settings can turn these
“pet peeves” into instructional tips.
Many are addressed in the lesson plan
later in this module.
Pet Peeve
Possible Alternative/Solution
A student sending
an email and not
identifying himself.
When this occurs an instructor must take several extra
steps before being able to respond. In order to respond
an instructor must figure out who sent the email (if
possible), what class the student is in, and then try to
answer the question. Faculty members receive many
emails daily, and this makes it impossible to reply
quickly. It also does not usually facilitate a particularly
responsive mood on the part of the faculty member.
Always include your full name in the
text of an email. When appropriate,
identify what class you are in or
explain briefly your connection with
the person recipient.
Sending an email
that begins with
something like:
“Hi ya”, “What’s
up”, “Yo, prof!”,
Emails with this level of familiarity often come across
as disrespectful. Beginning an email with an extremely
informal tone may make even the most relaxed faculty
members less likely to reply. Some faculty members
also mentioned that using a first name (rather than title
and last name) in the greeting without being asked to
do so often conveys a tone of disrespect.
Dear Dr. ________,
Hi Dr. __________,
Good morning/afternoon_______
Pet Peeve
Possible Alternative/Solution
An email sent when
a student is angry,
and feelings are
inappropriately and
If you are sending an email about which you feel
strong emotion it is often best to wait 24 hours before
sending it. This wait-time may not always be possible,
but either way, have someone you trust read it before
clicking “send”.
Don’t put anything in writing to a
faculty or staff member that you
would not be willing to say face-toface.
A message typed as
if talking to your
best friend- all lower
case, no punctuation
and abbreviationslol, jk, idk, etc.
Even faculty members who text their friends and
family frequently will generally switch to a more
professional tone when corresponding with students.
Students will want to do the same. Other faculty
members may not be familiar with abbreviations used
when texting. In these situations, decoding your email
will be time consuming and frustrating.
Write full sentences. Use correct
punctuation. Run spell check..
Pet Peeve
Possible Alternative/Solution
Subject line text:
Rarely does a college question require so many
exclamation points, and seeing emotionally laden
language in a subject heading will more likely cause an
instructor to feel defensive than encourage him or her
to read the email right away.
The subject line should give the
instructor a head’s up about the focus
of your question, not the level of your
The student did not identify herself or tell which class
she is talking about. Remember, instructors can have
literally hundreds of students and numerous classes
within one semester. Also, the text of the email does
not give any indication that the student has made an
attempt to understand or try the Module 4 assignment.
Within the text of the email designate
which class you are asking about, and
ask a specific question. The question
will likely be better received if you
describe what you do understand
about what you think you are to do,
and ask if this is correct.
“I don't understand
what I need to do in
Module 4”
An alternative might be Internet
failure during on-line test.
Pet Peeve
Possible Alternative/Solution
“I'm sorry I missed
your class today.
Please tell me what I
This student did not identify himself or tell what class
he is in. The implied assumption is that the instructor
will re-teach the class to the student after being
First contact the instructor before
missing class and explain why you
will not be able to attend. If there is
not a legitimate reason – don’t miss
the class. Then, consult the course
calendar and contact another student
prior to sending the instructor an
email. In the text of the email identify
yourself, describe what you have
done to find out what you missed,
describe what you have learned about
the class you have missed, and ask if
there is anything else that your friend
forgot to share.
An email that does
not allow sufficient
turn-around time for
a response. An
example might be an
email written at
10:00 p.m. with a
question about an
assignment that is
due at midnight.
In this sort of situation, even if the instructor does
respond, you may be less likely to get the response
you would like.
The best approach would be to work
ahead enough on assignments to be
able to recognize if you have
questions far in advance of the due
date. College assignments are rarely
assigned one day and due the next. If
you are doing some last-minute work,
acknowledge responsibility for this
and your recognition that you may not
receive a response prior to the due
date in the context of the email.
Even if a due date is not involved, be sure to provide
plenty of time for an instructor to respond. It is
generally not a good idea to send follow up checkingin emails every few minutes or hours. That will be
less likely to help you receive a quick response and
more likely to simply annoy the faculty member.
Pet Peeve
Possible Alternative/Solution
Using the high
importance symbol
Rarely would something associated with a college
course require this. Most faculty members reserve this
for fairly urgent needs. It might be an especially poor
choice to use this symbol because you feel something is
urgent to you simply because of procrastination on an
assignment. The high importance symbol should
indicate something that would be urgent and/or time
sensitive to the recipient.
If you feel it is important to contact
the faculty member quickly you can
try different options such as
emailing, phoning, and stopping by
the office during office hours.
Using font that is
difficult to read
Fancy or interesting font has a purpose in many
different situations, but faculty-student email
correspondence is not generally one of them. Instead it
may simply make the text more difficult to read.
Use standard fonts and colors when
e-mailing and save the creativity
and attention to detail for
assignments and schoolwork.
Replying to old and
unrelated emails
without changing the
subject heading… or
starting a new email
each time in the
middle of an e-mail
Because faculty members communicate with hundreds
of students regularly, the text from previous emails can
be very helpful in a continuing conversation. If a
student pulls up an old unrelated e-mail dialogue and
uses it to start a new conversation without changing the
subject line, the faculty member does not have an
accurate context before opening the email.
Alternatively, if you are in the middle of an email
dialogue and start a fresh email each time, the faculty
member will have not point of reference when
responding. Instead s/he will have to hunt through old
emails to read what has already been typed.
Keep the subject heading current
based on the conversation, and keep
the email dialogue intact by
replying each time rather than
starting a new email or wiping out
the earlier part of the dialogue.
Pet Peeves- Activity
• Take a poll of “pet peeves” about email.
Add these to the list started in this
E-mail Tips
• Use the following tips to help students
think ahead about post-secondary email etiquette.
• Many of these tips have been provided
by first-year students with identified
learning disabilities.
• Some of these reminders and tips will
err on the side of formality.
E-mail Tips, continued
• Students should remember that although
many instructors will be technologically
savvy, most have not grown up with the
immersion in computer use that students
have experienced.
• They may be comfortable with a style
that feels a bit formal to students.
• However, it is most important for the
student to show respect and keep
communication open with instructors.
E-mail Tips, continued
1. Remember that e-mail, texts, and
online communication are forever.
Once you click send you can’t take it
back. Prevent sender’s remorse by
getting in the habit of pausing to think
and re-read before you click send.
E-mail Tips, continued
2. Now is a good time to take a serious look
at what your Facebook page (or MySpace,
Twitter, blog, etc) communicates to the
world. These social networking resources
can help you stay connected and share
information, careless use can lead to
making bad impressions, loss of
opportunities, penalties for rule violations,
and even very real danger depending on
the types of information you post.
E-mail Tips, continued
3. E-mail is usually a good way to contact
most professors, but it is not
necessarily always the best way. Pay
attention if your professor mentions that
a different method of contact is
preferred. Also, e-mail shouldn’t be the
only way you communicate with
professors. Face to face communication
is important, too.
E-mail Tips, continued
4. Have somebody look over your written
communication (especially e-mail) before
you send it. After a few reviews from
others who are a bit more experienced,
you will start to get a sense of how to
effectively communicate in writing on
E-mail Tips, continued
Also, when sending an e-mail remember
that you will also not have the advantage
of incorporating body language and voice
tone to communicate the intent of your
message. The text you choose to use will
need to accurately convey both the
content and the tone of your message.
E-mail Tips, continued
5. When you are corresponding by e-mail
with an instructor, you are
communicating professionally. The
casual style you use with a friend is
not appropriate here.
E-mail Tips, continued
6. Always include your name in the email, and do not assume the e-mail
system will provide that for the
instructor. This is especially true when
using e-mail addresses other than
those supported by the educational
institution. Professors don’t have time
to guess the identities of “bballdude22”
or “iheartpirates17”.
E-mail Tips, continued
7. E-mail with the same rules for polite
and respectful communication as you
would use in a face-to-face meeting.
Also, typing in all caps is often
interpreted as shouting. There are
seldom times when students would
use shouting with instructors, so be
careful with this type of emphasis.
E-mail Tips, continued
8. Check your e-mail daily and be very
prompt replying to e-mails. However,
do not expect instructors to be on call
to respond to e-mails around the
clock. If it is a critical situation send an
e-mail and make a phone call
E-mail Tips, continued
9. You may want to draft your e-mail, reread it, and spell check it before
putting the recipient’s name in the “To”
line. This will eliminate the worry of
accidentally clicking “send” before you
are ready for the person to see what
you’ve been writing.
E-mail Tips, continued
10. Feel free to use space between major
ideas (much as you would construct
paragraphs) so that important
information and questions do not get
“lost” in a large body of text. Be as
clear and concise when you compose
your message as possible. Many
faculty members receive a large
number of e-mails each day.
E-mail Tips, continued
11. Be careful with “reply to all” option.
Remember that you might not have
been the only one to receive the initial
e-mail. Notice who else received and
e-mail and respond accordingly.
E-mail Tips, continued
12. Do not ask the recipient to reply to
your e-mail unless there is a true need
for it. Also, do not use the feature to
see a note if the person has read the
e-mail unless that is necessary.
E-mail Tips, continued
13. While adding a “pretty” background or
fancy font to the e-mail may make
your personal style stand out, it also
may add a few extra clicks for the
recipient to even be able to read the email. This may be more annoying that
helpful. There may be other more
appropriate ways to add a colorful flair
to your communication than dressing
up the appearance of an e-mail.
E-mail Tips, continued
14. Identify yourself and your class in the
subject heading – make this a useful
“heads up” to the one who receives the
e-mail. Unless you already know the
addressee fairly well, always start by
introducing yourself and stating how the
person should know you. It’s common
for a professor who might recognize
your face not to be able to place you by
name unless you’ve met several times.
E-mail Tips, continued
15. Write in standard English, not as
though you are texting or posting
online. Maintain a professional tone
and don’t be overly familiar
E-mail Tips, Activity
• Individually construct an email that
when read with different facial
expressions and voice tones could
communicate very different meanings.
• Read the email to a small group several
times – each time using voice and body
language to communicate a very
different message (frustration, joking,
sarcasm, warmth, anger).
E-mail Tips, Activity continued
• In small groups, discuss how students
frequently write emails with one
intent/tone, but that an instructor may
read it in an entirely different way when
they only can see the text.
• Without careful attention to how an
email is composed, a person may
convey something unintentional beyond
the content of the message.
Lesson Plan
• Some students will benefit from direct
instruction regarding basic considerations
when emailing in a college setting.
• The sample lesson plan that follows could
be used with high school students
preparing to transition to college (for
example, in a Curriculum Assistance
classroom, an English classroom, a
resource classroom, or any number of
different environments).
Lesson Plan
• Lesson Objective: The student will
draft an e-mail using at least eight
effective writing conventions for
appropriate written correspondence with
post-secondary instructors.
• Note: the lesson plan at
6.3.10.pptx 6.3.10.pptx links directly to
supplementary materials
Focus student attention with “A Tale of Two E-mails” by showing the
following two e-mail samples:
can you send me the slides from class today b/c I was out and
missed it.
Dr. Smith,
Hello, this is Pete Pirate, and I am in your PSYC 1000 class (section 002).
I looked over the test we got back in class today, and I have a few
questions about things I got wrong. Can I come during your office hours at
10:00 a.m. tomorrow to discuss what I can do to improve my grade on the
next test? If another time would be better for you, just let me know and I
will schedule an appointment.
Thanks for your help,
Use a Venn Diagram to note student comments as they compare and
contrast the two different e-mails. Have them view the e-mails from the lens
of the instructor, decide which would be best received, and justify their
decision. List the elements of the 2nd e-mail that make it most effective for
this type of written communication.
Power Point
slides with
sample email.
E-mails on
handout if
Teacher Input
Use the information in the sample PowerPoint slides to:
1) Provide a rationale/context for the type of e-mail communication students
will want to use in college.
2) List guidelines for composing an e-mail that would be considered
appropriately written in a college setting. Although e-mail is not quite as
formal as traditional letter-writing, you can still use some of the features of the
more formal writing to structure your communication.
3) Help students understand that the nature of each written communication
will be different, but these tips are generic tips that could be considerations
for a variety of purposes.
Guidelines portrayed in the PowerPoint file (in a bit more detail in the Power
Point file) include:
Begin with a polite and respectful salutation.
Clearly communicate message, questions, or concerns.
Use proper punctuation.
Use complete sentences and professional language.
Use commonly accepted abbreviations only when helpful.
Use respectful language/tone.
Include both your first and last name in the e-mail.
Fill in the subject line.
Use spell check.
Proofread the e-mail before sending.
Take time to discuss each guideline, provide examples and explanation when
4) Provide a sample e-mail template that students can follow until they
become more comfortable with professional communication in
postsecondary education settings in this way.
5) Identify elements of the template that reflect the 10 guidelines
6) Present the students again with the two e-mails (from Cameron and
Pete) from the beginning of the lesson. Have them compare these emails with 10 guidelines discussed in this lesson.
Guided Practice:
Present the following scenario to the class.
You are registering for spring semester classes. Last week you met with
your academic advisor to discuss the courses you will need to take in
the spring and spent time developing your preferred schedule. One of
the classes you had planned to take is now full, and you are not sure if
you should ask for special permission to be added to that class or if you
should just select something else (but you are not sure what that would
be). Compose an e-mail to your advisor to ask for guidance with this
As a group, draft an e-mail to the academic advisor referenced in the
scenario using all of the tips discussed earlier.
1) Students draw a sample postsecondary scenario depicting a
situation when e-mail communication may be appropriate.
2) Each student should compose an e-mail to the instructor
addressing his/her scenario using at least 8 of the 10 guidelines
discussed in this lesson.
3) Students can exchange e-mails and use the guideline checklist
to provide feedback to one another – or the e-mails can be
collected for formative assessment and/or a classwork grade.
Discuss other potential uses of written communication in college
(library, thank you notes, requests for internships, online
discussions, blogs, etc)
Review 10 guidelines.
scenarios cut
and placed on
• This module was designed to generate
thinking about ways to help students be
strategic as they prepare to communicate in
the college setting – specifically via e-mail.
• Sharing practical tips and providing
meaningful practice opportunities may
increase a student’s ability to make a
positive impression on a college instructor
and/or convey e-mail messages accurately.
Summary, continued
• Do not assume students will naturally make
the leap from the casual electronic
communication used frequently and
effortlessly by many teenagers to the more
professional communication expected on a
postsecondary campus.
• Proactive supports and direct instruction for
students in transition can facilitate a
student’s effective adjustment to the college
Focus and Reflection Questions
1. Follow up on any questions raised during
the session.
2. Share personal experiences with
communication via email. Discuss any
changes you may make in your own
composition of emails.
3. How can the instructor model good email
Application & Extension activities
Activities to use as Attention-Grabbers/Ice
1. Describe a scenario, and have participants
compose an email that would be appropriate for that
scenario – but to three different audiences (e.g. best
friend, teacher, parent, employer).
2. Make a list of 10 – 20 texting abbreviations. See
how many the group can decipher. Time the group –
and introduce the idea of extra time involved if
reading an email from a student requires this type of
decoding. Discuss how this could be simulated with
students (e.g., email full of education-related
acronyms or fictitious texting abbreviations that
might be used in fields of education, business).
Application & Extension activities,
Activities to use to Extend Learning
Following review of the module, these activities
could be used to extend learning regarding how
to assist learners with written communications.
1.Include information and a template to teach
students how to construct well-written thank
you notes. This practice with writing to people
with whom a student may rarely correspond in
writing, may help students develop practice
writing to others in a polite, but informal style.
It will also help them when the graduation gifts
come in!
Application & Extension activities,
2.Develop role plays (simulated
student/faculty meeting) and e-mail samples
that communicate the same information.
Compare/contrast the effectiveness,
strengths, & limitations of each type of
communication for various purposes. Point
out similarities and differences of each.
Application & Extension activities,
Activities with a Broader Communication Scope
With sufficient time allotted the scope of the module
could be expanded beyond written communication.
For example, oral communication and body
language could also be included for a more broad
focus on communication in the college setting.
Application & Extension activities,
1. After working through the materials in this
module about one form of written
communication, have participants write a
similar lesson plan that applies to a form of
oral communication or body language.
2. Brainstorm different times/ways oral
communication or body language is used in
college, and the different audiences
students speak with for different purposes.
Application & Extension activities,
3. Discuss the impact body language can have
on impressions others have of you.
Students will need to decide what they want
to communicate with their body language
and deliberately work to ensure they
actually do so in different settings. Areas of
emphasis in the college setting can be class
participation; texting, checking email, web
surfing, etc during class lecture; sleeping;
making eye contact; monitoring facial
expressions, and nodding.
Application & Extension activities,
4. Teach SLANT: A Starter Strategy TM for
Class Participation developed by Edwin
Ellis (1991) and published by Edge
Enterprises. This strategy is part of the
many valuable resources provided by the
Kansas University Center for Research on
Learning. See their website ( for more information about training
and learning strategies or Content
Enhancement Routines.
Application & Extension activities,
5. Show a photograph of a classroom depicting
students with different postures. Have the
participants identify students that seem to be
“paying attention” and demonstrating respect.
Use as a foundation for a discussion about
faculty perceptions and the impact that may
have on learning and course performance.
Even if the student is effectively multitasking
and absorbing information being presented,
the student is making an impression on the
instructor. Instructors may perceive very
differently the impact of the student’s choices
regarding interaction with the class content.
Application & Extension activities,
6. Students with disabilities are responsible for
self-disclosing to an instructor information
about accommodations for which they would
be eligible. Especially if this is the first time
students have contact with the instructor;, it
can be a difficult and awkward conversation
for a student. Participants can develop
resources for teaching students to introduce
themselves, explain how their disability
impacts classroom learning, and break the
ice with an instructor.
Application & Extension activities,
7. Students in college rarely visit faculty
members during office hours or make
contact outside of class. At the end of the
semester faculty frequently receive several
student contacts asking for extensions, extra
credit, grading considerations, etc.
Participants can discuss how to impress on
potential students the impact of this
communication pattern and the benefits of a
more proactive approach to communicating
with faculty members.
Application & Extension activities,
However this understanding will not likely
be enough to ensure that students take
those first steps to get to know their
instructors. Participants of an extended
workshop can share ideas and develop
lesson plans designed to teach students
strategies for scheduling and following
through with that first meeting.
Application & Extension activities,
8. Some tips that can be shared with students
about body language and oral
communication (* indicates a tip from a
current college student) are:
• Look people in the eye when speaking and
• Try to replace some of the more casual words in
your vocabulary with their more professional
counterparts. For example, “yes” instead of
“yeah” or “uh-huh”.
• Remember your manners. Saying “please” and
thank you” and generally having a respectful and
positive attitude communicates more than almost
any other words you can say.
Application & Extension activities,
• Make a point of meeting your professors during the
first week of class and making a positive impression
by going to their office hours. Follow up with an email. *If you don’t have an unlimited plan, keep track
of your cell phone minutes and texts carefully. It’s
easy to run out because most college students call
and text their friends a lot! *
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions! *
• Sit and stand up straight. Don’t fidget with objects
(e.g., pen or pencil) in a distracting way.
Application & Extension activities,
• Listen actively.
• Consider the message you may convey if you
are not clean and appropriately groomed when
you leave the dorm. Do your clothes send the
message that you take your classes seriously
or that you just happened to drop in for class in
between other, more important activities?
• Consider the message it sends if you attend
class in the same clothes you wear to sleep?
Session Evaluation
• A form for participants to evaluate the
session is available in the Facilitator’s
• A self-assessment with response
feedback is available at .
Participants may take this assessment
online to evaluate their learning about
content presented in this module