Background

MIT faculty and department members believe that students in any field should learn to write prose that is clear, organized, and eloquent, and to marshal facts and ideas into convincing written and oral presentations.

In response to MIT alumni/ae feedback, the Faculty initiated a multi-year process of collaboration and curricular pilots involving communication education. These initiatives included most undergraduate major programs, and resulted in the development of an instructionally-based Communication Requirement.

In Spring 2000, the CUP Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement submitted its report to the Faculty. The Communication Requirement (CR) was approved at the Faculty Meeting in March 2000. The Requirement went into effect in Fall 2001 with the Class of 2005, replacing the competency-based Writing Requirement. The Subcommittee continued to work on implementation issues and, in Spring 2001, submitted the Report to the Faculty on the Implementation of the Communication Requirement (this is a PDF file, which requires Acrobat Reader).

Hallmarks

The CR integrates substantial instruction and practice in writing and speaking into all four years and across all parts of MIT's undergraduate program. Students will participate regularly in activities designed to develop both general and technical or professional communication skills.

The Communication Requirement is the only "paced" General Institute Requirement. Undergraduates must pass at least one Communication Intensive (CI) subject by the end of freshman year, two CI subjects by the end of sophomore year, three CI subjects by the end of junior year, and four CI subjects before they graduate.

Normally, students take two CI subjects within the humanities, arts and social sciences (CI-H) during their first and second years. CI-H subjects provide a foundation in effective expository writing and speaking. In their junior and senior years, generally, students take subjects that are Communication Intensive in the Major (CI-M). These subjects are integral to each student's major program. CI-Ms involve instruction and practice in the forms of communication specific to the professional and academic culture of the discipline.

Oversight

Primary oversight of the Communication Requirement is provided by the Faculty Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR), a subcommittee of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP). SOCR is responsible for establishing policies related to the Communication Requirement, assessing the effectiveness of the CR, approving CI-H and CI-M subjects, and responding to petitions relating to the CR. SOCR works closely with the Office of the Communication Requirement, which administers the CR.

Assessment

SOCR is charged with periodically reviewing and assessing the effectiveness of specific CI subjects and the overall efficacy of the Communication Requirement and its administration.

In Spring 2008, SOCR completed the Report on the Assessment of the Implementation of the Undergraduate Communication Requirement (this is a PDF file, which requires MIT Certificates and Acrobat Reader).

The Executive Summary of the Report on the Assessment of the Implementation of the Undergraduate Communication Requirement is available without MIT Certificates.

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