Wilkes University

OPO Committee

What is an OPO Designated Course?
An OPO (Oral Performance Option) designated course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to present information in the context of public speaking experiences. The completion of two OPO designated courses fulfills the Oral Communication skill requirement of the University's core. Students who complete two OPO classes need not complete COM 101, Introduction to Public Speaking.

In OPO designated courses, students do at least two different public speeches throughout the semester to help them achieve course objectives. Instructors provide ongoing feedback to the public speaking presentations to support students in their progress toward meeting course objectives and improving their oral communication skills. ("Public speaking assignments" are defined as substantial, prepared oral discourse delivered by a single speaker, or, a group presentation in which each speaker has a substantial individual role, before an audience of critical listeners for the purpose of informing, persuading or meeting the needs of a special occasion.)

Can Any Class Receive an OPO Designation?
Essentially, yes, as long as it meets the stated OPO guidelines and is approved by the OPO Committee.

What are the Guidelines for OPO Classes?
  1. The course syllabus should clearly state the nature of the public speaking assignments and their importance in meeting objectives of the course. The public speaking assignments will be graded and students will be told how they will be evaluated. Goals and objectives may include the following:
    1. to use public speaking as a tool that allows students to improve their level of self expression;
    2. to practice effectively getting their ideas across to others through planning, preparing and presenting speeches;
    3. to allow students to come face-to-face with audiences to reinforce their understanding that public speaking is audience centered;
    4. to afford students with the opportunity to assess their own speaking ability by learning from the feedback of others;
    5. to enable students to become better consumers of messages of others by developing their critical listening skills;
    6. to prepare students to participate more fully in communication interactions that are both ethical and responsible.
  2. In order to be meaningful learning experiences for students, OPO designated courses will require:
    1. that public speaking presentations be graded on both content and delivery;
    2. that students present at least two speeches of 8-10 minutes each, including
      1. written preparation, with full sentence outlines and bibliographies
      2. delivery from outline or limited notes, but not read from manuscripts
    3. speeches that focus on the content of the message and restrict the use of visual, audio and video to supporting materials to enhance but not be the content of presentations; and
    4. that the grading of the speech delivery should emphasize the effective use of gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and vocal interaction with the audience.
  3. Public speaking assignments may include a variety of individual oral presentations, including personal narratives, expository speeches, sales speeches, persuasive or problem-solution speeches, historical speeches, media critiques, debates, demonstrations, oral reports (that are not read from manuscripts), peer critiques or reviews, individual oral reports drawn from group projects or research assignments, teaching or instructional presentations, specialized and ceremonial speeches, etc.

How do I submit a proposal for an OPO Designated Course?
Faculty wishing to submit proposals for Oral Presentation Option (OPO) designated courses are required to attend an OPO workshop. After completion of the workshop faculty should electronically submit (via e-mail) the following to Mark Stine, OPO Committee Chair:
  1. A comprehensive course syllabus, linking the public speaking assignments to course objectives (see Guidelines for OPO Instructors, section A).
  2. At least one paragraph explaining specifically how the OPO guidelines will be met. This should include:
    • the specific type of speeches that will be presented (personal narrative, problem-solution, historical, etc.)
    • a brief description of each speech assignment (including length requirements)
    • details of the written preparation required of students
    • the criteria to be used for grading both content and delivery
    Hard copies of the above may also be forwarded to Mark Stine, Communications Studies.

If I already teach a course with an OPO designation, do I have to re-submit my syllabus for approval?
Since the OPO guidelines changed with the acceptance of the new Core, the answer is yes. Beginning in the spring of 2003, all OPO classes must be approved, or re-approved, by the OPO committee.