Perlich, student research team publish communication assessment study 

A scientific manuscript co-authored by Dr. John Perlich, professor of communication studies at Hastings College, was published by Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works in the journal “Speaker & Gavel.” The paper was co-authored by Justin Arends, Marissa Christiancy, Anna Griggs, Joe Kindig, Trischia Rueckert, Tyler Schuster and Mary Swift, who were students at the time but have since graduated from Hastings College. 

“The students took part in the project for my Research Methods class. I don’t believe they realized at the time how important this work would be for any department in our discipline that is interested in measuring student outcomes,” Perlich said. “We know that the method of instruction and teaching style will influence student outcomes — this project scientifically explains how much.”

The study, entitled “Using Assessment to Improve Teacher Efficacy in the Actualization of Student Outcomes: An Instrumental Case Study Approach,” examined the relationship between classroom facilitation and student outcomes. The PRCA-24, a highly regarded instrument in the field for evaluating communication apprehension, shows that Hastings College students develop a comfort in the public speaking process that is highly significant. This is important because skill in communicating is one of the most desirable abilities employers seek. 

The study employed a case study methodology, combining quantitative and qualitative data to determine the significance of gains in cognitive, behavioral and affective domain areas.  

“Our project is an internal assessment document that has been used to provide feedback regarding teaching efficacy within our department. More importantly, it provides a model of assessment for departments that are interested in doing the same thing,” Perlich said. “The really unique angle is the way we included students in the process. Our students didn’t circle numbers as a form of teaching evaluation. They worked collaboratively with us to make sure that the quality of education at Hastings College is exemplary.” 

The manuscript and research highlight the high level of student outcomes within the communication studies curriculum at Hastings College. Students were found to significantly improve in cognitive, behavioral and affective domains as a result of the instruction they received in the entry level course at Hastings College.  

“Using cognitive measures, we discerned how much students retained at the end of the semester. Using behavioral measures, we charted what they can do at the end of a class. Our affective measures track communication apprehension, or stage fright, and the impact that our curriculum has on lowering this type of fear,” Perlich said.

Perlich initially presented the findings at the National Communication Association Conference in Dallas, Texas, earlier this year. 

Hastings College is a private, four-year institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With 64 majors and 15 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review. For more, go to

Share this post