Final Report of the CUP Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement

1. Introduction

    In March 1997, the Committee on the Writing Requirement (CWR) and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) brought to the Faculty a proposal for the development of a new requirement that would ensure instruction and practice in writing and speaking become a regular and substantial part of undergraduate education at MIT. On April 17, 1997, the Faculty responded affirmatively by stating its belief that:

    the ability to communicate clearly is fundamental; that students should receive instruction and feedback in writing and speaking during each undergraduate year; and that responsibility for teaching these abilities should be distributed across the entire MIT undergraduate curriculum.

    In addition, the Faculty directed the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP):

    to conduct a series of experiments and pilot programs to help in the design of a new Communication Requirement. These experiments should test different models for incorporating communication-intensive experiences into the first-year curriculum, the General Institute Requirements, and Departmental degree programs. These experiments should be evaluated by a subcommittee of the CUP appointed by the Chair of the CUP, in consultation with the Chair of the Faculty and the Chair of the Committee on the Writing Requirement. The CUP should report back to the Faculty with its recommendation for a new Communication Requirement not later than Spring of 2000.
    This action by the Faculty was the culmination of a three-year preliminary assessment process by the CUP and the CWR, and the beginning of a two-year pilot phase to inform the final design and implementation of a new undergraduate communication-intensive curriculum. (The full text of the motion is contained in Appendix A.) In September 1997, the CUP charged a subcommittee, co-chaired by Professors Gene Brown and Langley Keyes, to: 1) develop and publish guidelines for curricular experiments by academic units; 2) solicit and review these experiments and pilot programs; 3) report to the CUP by January 2000 on the conclusions it has reached about the efficacy of the activities it has sanctioned; and 4) recommend one or more possible designs of a new Communication Requirement. (The full text of the charge appears in Appendix B.)

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    Last modified: February 14, 2000