The WAC Clearinghouse

The Pearce Communication Center

Columbia College, Columbia, SC

by Dr. Nancy Lewis Tuten


The Tom and Anne Pearce Communication Center at Columbia College offers programs in both oral and written communication. Endowed by a substantial gift from a local business leader in our community, the Center seeks to improve the communication skills of Columbia College students by providing faculty development opportunities and direct support for students.

Oral Communication

The oral communication program provides a speech lab where individual students and groups can receive mentoring in oral composition and delivery of speeches and presentations. Students can address issues of communication confidence and speech anxiety at the lab, and they can get help with oral communication assignments in all of their classes. A faculty development-oriented speaking-across-the-curriculum program is another feature of the Pearce Communication Center.

Faculty can seek assistance and support with oral communication assignments in their courses, and recently the Center implemented a new Speaking Fellowship program Speaking Fellows work to incorporate oral communication activities into their courses by designing speaking assignments and learning to evaluate them. Faculty who complete one semester as a Speaking Fellow are invited to participate in a second-semester fellowship during which they work with their departments to develop discipline-specific speaking guidelines, goals, and objectives.

Dr. Charles Pearce is the director of oral communication at the Pearce Center. He can be reached at or at 803.786.3197.

Written Communication

Because Columbia College has had for many years an academic skills center where students can go for help writing papers, the written communication program provides instead writing-related support for students in general education courses. We provide lunchtime and evening workshops on how to write particular kinds of assignments students face in their required freshman sequence, Liberal Arts 101 and Liberal Arts 102, and we provide handouts for the students containing sample papers and guidelines.

Faculty development is a major component of the written-communication program. Pearce Writing Fellows work with a Pearce Partner from the Center to improve the design and assessment of writing assignments. Often the Pearce Partner will meet with classes to discuss particular assignments and will provide supplementary handouts to help prepare students for specific writing assignments. Second-semester fellows work with their departments to identify writing skill goals for their majors and to track the development of those skills throughout the major course of study. Since the program began two years ago, twelve fellows have hailed from nine different programs of study. In collaboration with the Communications-Across-the-Curriculum program at The Citadel (Charleston, SC), the Pearce Center is sponsoring in February a faculty development retreat focusing on the design and assessment of writing assignments.

Dr. Nancy Lewis Tuten is the director of written communication at the Pearce Center. She can be reached at or at 803.786.3706.

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