Communication Activities for College Students

Instructor: Kandi Young

Kandi has degrees in Communications, Human Services, Education and Computer Science. She is a Business, Marketing, and Technology instructor with a Master's degree in Education.

Communicating is one of the most important skills needed to successfully navigate through life, and young adults often get their first experience in professional communication in college. This lesson's activities are designed to help college students practice professional communication.

Communication for College

Do you teach young college students? Chances are they are feeling a bit overwhelmed by college life. Adapting to this new environment depends in large part on their ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of people for a variety of purposes. You can help your young students improve their chances for success in your class and in college life by providing some activities to practice adult, professional communication.

The activities in this lesson are designed to help college students master the world of professional communication, whether they are finding their way through the basics of registration, navigating the treacherous waters of conflict or collaborating with peers.

Finding Facts

This activity instructs students how to ask detail-oriented questions. Use this activity to teach students how to ask the right questions to get the answers they need.

  • On a blank sheet of paper, instruct students to write the words 'what,' 'when,' 'where,' 'why' and 'who' down the left side of the page, leaving space to the right of each word.
  • Instruct students to think of a topic they need information about, such as class registration.
  • Ask the students to write down the first sentence that comes into their mind concerning their topic, e.g., 'When do I register for classes?' and place it next to the corresponding label, in this case 'when.'
  • For each 'w' not covered, instruct students to create a pertinent question around the same topic.
  • Once students have completed each 'w', pair them with another student.
  • Ask the pairs to practice asking their questions with their partners.
  • Instruct the partners to give feedback on whether the questions are clear, concise and thorough, e.g., addressing all needed information.

Disagreeing Agreeably

This activity is designed to guide students through the process of disagreeing in a professional manner.

  • Divide students into pairs and provide each pair with a real-life conflict scenario, for example, they have received a low grade they disagree with and must discuss it with the professor.
  • Explain that each student will address the issue in a way that feels natural and the partner will play the role of the person the student has a conflict with, such as a professor.
  • Instruct the students to give their partners feedback at the end of the conversation. Direct students to notice and address the following:
    • Facial expressions: Does your partner look calm or angry? Is your partner making enough eye contact or too much eye contact?
    • Voice tone and level: Is your partner getting too loud, too quiet or sarcastic?
    • Language: Is your partner using facts and proper English that makes sense?
    • Terms and phrases to avoid: 'I demand, ' 'you must, ' 'what if,' 'but this other student did this and…'
  • Once feedback has been given, have the students switch roles and repeat the activity.

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