Not all business schools can fund a full-fledged center dedicated to oral and written presentation skills like the Kogod Center for Business Communications (see “Communication Channels
”). But any school can take a more coordinated approach to integrating oral and written assignments into its curriculum, says center director Bonnie Auslander. One effective strategy, she advises, can be to engage teaching assistants in a number of ways to improve students’ communication skills:
Select TAs who have demonstrated strong oral and written skills
by soliciting recommendations from professors or recruiting previous students.
Train TAs in skills that make great tutors
. These skills include “say-back” methods, in which TAs repeat what they hear the student saying to ensure understanding, and “wait times” after asking questions to give students time to think and respond.
Expand TA duties
. Don’t just have TAs grade final papers. Encourage them to hold regular small group meetings with students who are preparing oral and written assignments. Use these meetings to support students throughout the writing process, from brainstorming and draft preparation to revising and editing.