Assess Yourself with a Communication Audit
I have a confession: I love things like communication audits.
I know it sounds about as much fun as a trip to the dentist, but hear me out.
So much of your students’ success and your success as an instructor is dependent on communication. It seems so basic, and yet there’s almost always room for improvement. And if you conduct your own audit, using this Communication Audit Worksheet I created or some other variation, you are almost guaranteed to identify areas for improvement.
I’ve done numerous communication audits in my day, but never one for a course, so I’ve been thinking about the best way to get the full picture. Here’s what I’ve concluded:
- Instructor communication (excluding your time actually instructing the course content) can be broken down into four categories: feedback, responses to inquiries, announcements and reminders.
- The only way to conduct a communication audit with any accuracy is to fill it in as you go along throughout the semester.
With so much communication happening in the form of feedback and response to inquiries, you kind of have to document it as you go along. But what better time to plan for a communication audit than right now as we get ready to start a new semester?
But just in case I still haven’t sold you on the need for a communication audit, here are a few more compelling reasons.
Good Communication Leads to Better Student Perceptions
Think about any good professor or mentor you’ve ever had. Chances are they were skilled communicators.
What does good communication convey?
- You are organized.
- You care about your students’ success.
- You are prepared for class and that this course is important to you.
Communication Mistakes Are Easy to Make
With four different types of communication — feedback, responses to inquiries, announcements and reminders —in any given course, mistakes can be plentiful. Here are a few examples I’ve seen:
- Cramming too much information into a single announcement
- Posting announcements too frequently
- Being inconsistent with the types of things you communicate about
- Not providing timely feedback for assessments and student inquiries
That last one if of particular importance. You may recall that the Office of Accountability’s Student Satisfaction Inventory survey results released this spring indicated that students only have a 59 percent satisfaction rate when asked about timely feedback from faculty regarding their progress in a course.
You may also have noted that student feedback is included as a Quality Matters standard (5.3 “The instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback on assignments is clearly stated) and is included on other similar course rating rubrics.
Have I convinced you yet? Or do you have other ideas about what should be included in a course communication audit? I would love to hear from you, and I’m happy to help you get started with your own audit.