CIVIL ENGINEERING 365 ALL ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING



AbstractThe competency and professional growth of the workforce in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is significantly impacted by the individuals’ ability to master oral communication skills as well as articulate opinions amid large audiences. However, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates spend approximately 4 years learning technical skills, with little to no time devoted to enhancing oral communication skills. Regrettably, minority STEM students usually face additional interpersonal barriers that require targeted training to foster their leadership and oral communication skills, which in turn reinforce their readiness for the competitive job markets. This research addressed such drawbacks by integrating innovative cocurricular communication skills activities with the aim of advancing minority students’ oral communication and presentation skills. The main objective of the study was to evaluate the growth in students’ oral communication and presentation skills within four construction management courses through the implementation of three cocurricular activities: (1) in-class expert training; (2) virtual reality presentation simulation training; and (3) social media–based communication activity. The research assessed the effectiveness of these activities in three ways. A benchmark survey recorded baseline data of 327 STEM students about their cognitive-communication skill knowledge and self-efficacy in presentation skills. Pre- and postcourse evaluation surveys of 102 of the 327 students highlighted overall skill growth compared with their performance at the beginning of the semester. An exit survey of 87 of the 102 students recorded their feedback about their social learning experiences and the effectiveness of each of the three implemented cocurricular activities. The results of the study indicated that minority STEM students benefited tremendously from the innovative oral communication skill training because the proposed three cocurricular activities promoted interpersonal growth and addressed some of their identified presentation skills deficiencies. The findings of this study contribute to the engineering and construction education bodies of knowledge by emphasizing the effectiveness of cocurricular communication training within formal and informal educational settings, which can help students to thrive in their future careers by developing and reinforcing their oral communication and presentation skills.



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