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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

Competent Communication in the First College Year: An Exploratory Study

Author(s): Morreale, S., Staley, C., & Campbell, T.

Citation: Morreale, S., Staley, C., & Campbell, T. (2015). Competent Communication in the First College Year: An Exploratory Study. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 27(1), 89-104.



First-year students' communication abilities are critical to succeeding in college and interacting professionally with faculty, student affairs staff, and administrators. The purpose of this exploratory study is to better understand how introductory-level college students, particularly those born since 1990, define competent communication in the computer-mediated, technology-rich 21st century. Three focus groups of students in introductory courses at a four-year university provide insight into this student population's actual and preferred communication practices and their perceptions of effective and appropriate communication in both informal and formal relationships. The results of this qualitative study should prove useful for enhancing communication with first-year students and guiding the design and implementation of campus activities and programs about competent communication.


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