Family Communication
Prior Learning Competence

Subject Area: Communication
College: Arts and Sciences
Department: Communication

Prior Competence Information:

Competence Statement (suggested):*
    Knows the fundamental concepts, theories, and practices of family communication well enough to:
    1. assess the strengths and weaknesses of family interactions using concepts, theories, and best practices;
    2. explain key theories addressing relationship formation, maintenance, and development, stages of family life, power dynamics, decision making, parenting styles, dealing with unpredictable stresses;
    3. identify steps for improving skills family interaction and decision making.

*number of credits negotiated between evaluator and student.

Theoretical Components:

Lower Division:
    Introductory level knowledge of:
    1. key concepts and typologies in family communication (e.g., parenting styles, couple styles, methods of making decisions);
    2. key theories and theoretical approaches in family communication (e.g., stage theories; social exchange and equity theories; dialectical approaches; conflict resolution theories; emotional communication theories).
Upper Division:
    Advanced level knowledge of:
    1. theories and theoretical approaches in family communication (e.g., stage theories; social exchange and equity theories; dialectical approaches; conflict resolution theories; emotional communication theories);
    2. theoretical predictions and research findings for specific programs of research (e.g., Olson's Circumplex Model; Baxter's Dialectical Approach; Fitzpatrick's Marital Typology);
    3. recommendations for best practices as identified in empirical research on such topics as parenting communication and family decision making.

Practical Application Components:

Lower Division:
    Ability to reflect on and evaluate basic skill in:
    1. listening;
    2. participating in decision making;
    3. participating in problem solving;
    4. respectfully expressing thoughts and feelings to family members; and
    5. maintaining valued relationships.
Upper Division:
    Ability to demonstrate advanced skills and teach others to increase skill in:
    1. listening;
    2. participating in family decision making;
    3. participating in problem solving;
    4. respectfully expressing thoughts and feelings to family; and
    5. maintaining valued relationships.

Examples of Appropriate Prior Experience:

Typically students able to demonstrate prior knowledge have a combination of the following:

  1. Career, internship, or in-service involvement in such family focused venues/careers as:
    1. counseling
    2. adoption services
    3. family mediation
    4. social work
    5. medicine
    6. daycare
    7. education

  2. Attendance at training sessions on such topics as parenting skills, discipline, marital enrichment, etc.

  3. Reading of material written by scholars in the form of books for educated lay audiences.
    (e.g.: Mary Anne Fitzpatrick Between Husbands and Wives: Communicating in Marriage; John Gottman The Heart of Parenting; William Pollock Real Boys; Mary Pipher Reviving Ophelia).

Recommended readings/resources:


Steps in evaluation process:

  1. If you know the exact topic of the prior AND you are interested in completing a prior during the Fall or Spring semesters, check the course schedule for a list of faculty who evaluate different type of priors. If you need assistance figuring out the topic of the prior AND/OR you want to complete the prior during the Summer, contact the Chair of the Department of Communication.
  2. Once you know the topic and evaluator, contact the evaluator by telephone or email. Clearly explain:
    1. your interest in a exploring a prior;
    2. the topic of the prior;
    3. the work/volunteer/training experiences that prepared you for the prior; and
    4. when you would like to complete the prior. Please note: During this conversation the faculty member will be trying to help you assess whether you are ready to do a prior or whether you would be better served (and save money) by taking a regular course, taking a theory seminar, or working on a student designed independent study.
  3. If the faculty evaluator and you both conclude that you are ready to demonstrate prior knowledge of the specified subject, you will complete a prior form.
  4. The form requires the signature of the Department of Communication Chair. You then submit this form with all of the signatures required to the registrar at the time of registration.
  5. Once you are registered, the evaluator will receive a learning evaluation. You are responsible for submitting work or scheduling meetings for assessment with the evaluator. The evaluator completes the learning evaluation when all of the assessments are finished. (Learning evaluations have expiration dates. It is important to make every effort to complete the work in the semester in which registration occurred.)

Measurement techniques:

Prior competence is typically demonstrated through a minimum of two forms of assessment:

  1. an interview assessing how work and volunteer experiences have provided opportunities to master interpersonal communication skills with diverse individuals and
  2. an oral examination. Many students find it is to their advantage to include one additional form of assessment (e.g., training and development projects from work, examples of correspondence/feedback that displays effective interpersonal communication, etc.).
Measurement Techniques:
( ) Oral Interview ( ) Pre-evaluation tests
( ) Objective Test ( ) Diagnostic tests
(X) Other:  Syllabus  

Related materials available:
(X) Sample oral examination questions.  

Location of above related materials:
( ) Evaluation guidelines ( ) Pre-evaluation tests
( ) Group assessment information ( ) Diagnostic tests, Available in the Teaching Center 651-772-7733
(X) Other: See Faculty Evaluator: Contact
becky.omdahl@metrostate.edu