Richard Slawsky

Richard Slawsky

Lecturer, A&S; Communication
COMM 111: Introduction to Public Speaking
COMM 112: Business and Professional Speaking

Richard Slawsky has two primary goals for students in both of his intro level courses in public speaking: the first is to assist his students in preparing a persuasive presentation, and the second is to help students “take what they have learned in class and apply it in the real world.”

For his project in this year’s Part-Time Faculty Learning Community, Slawsky decided to use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, a common technique in advertising, to provide his students with a tool they could use to both improve their persuasive presentations and better evaluate the ads they encounter in everyday life. Specifically, Slawsky built an assignment which incorporated two YouTube clips. The first clip clearly explains Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, and the second offers an example of a “pitchman” advertising a product. After viewing the clips, students were asked to identify elements from the product ad that match the steps in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. Slawsky reported that the students found both videos engaging and entertaining, and they were “easily able to identify the steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence as they were used in the video.” Having gained this practical experience of identifying these elements, students were then asked to outline their own persuasive presentations using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence as a model. This approach seemed to work well for students. Slawsky reported that “of the 23 submissions, I found only five that needed to be revised to meet the assignment.”

Beyond simply covering the necessary communication concepts as they relate to his courses, Slawsky intentionally incorporated a series of learning principles in this assignment. In the learning community’s primary text, How Learning Works, the authors discuss several concepts which Slawsky included in this assignment. For example, instructors need to find ways of breaking complex tasks down into component parts; students must be given opportunities to practice integrating skills and applying what they learn; and they also need to be able to transfer those skills from one assignment or context to another. Slawsky believes that the reconfigured Monroe’s Motivated Sequence assignment helped his students gain a better grasp of how to apply the motivated sequence to not just their classroom presentations, but also to better identifying and making persuasive arguments in their daily lives.

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