How the Program Works

After completing a rigorous, one-semester training course in the theory and practice of public speaking, Speaking Fellows work with students across the disciplines to coach them on how to craft, prepare, and deliver presentations and participate in class discussions.  Speaking Fellows do not grade students’ presentations, and are not TAs – they are undergraduate Barnard students who have been trained to help their peers build stronger, more nuanced arguments through reflective, critical thinking and collegial support.

Speaking Fellows work with students through three main venues: (1) directly with courses, at faculty request; (2) one-on-one in the Speaking Center; and (3) in small, one-hour group workshops open to the entire Barnard community.  To support and engage faculty, Daniela Kempf (Manager of the Speaking Program and Associate in Education) offers workshops just for faculty interested in thinking more about student speaking in the classroom.

“Attached” Courses

At faculty request, we “attach” a team of Speaking Fellows to a given course.  At the beginning of the semester, the instructor selects 2-3 workshops s/he would like students to take and when in the semester they will take place (usually instructors time workshops with relevant assignments or class activities).  By working with the same students several times throughout the semester, Speaking Fellows can develop a collaborative, peer-to-peer relationship with students while building on skills with every workshop.  To ensure participation and maximize student benefit, workshops must be mandatory for all students enrolled in the course.

Speaking Fellows can create workshops from scratch, or the instructor can choose from workshops we’ve already created.  All workshops run between 1 and 2 hours, but length and content can be adapted to meet the course's particular needs.  See our Faculty Guide for more specifics.  If you are a student currently enrolled in an attached course, learn more about what to expect.

The Speaking Center

Speaking Fellows staff the Speaking Center, where students can meet one-on-one to work on a particular aspect of public speaking or a specific presentation.  Speaking Fellows can work with students on a variety of skills, such as organizing ideas, using visual aids, delivery, speaking anxiety, or just for practice.  Any Barnard students interested in improving their speaking skills are welcome to sign up.  Columbia students may participate if enrolled in a Barnard course or if they have permission from their Columbia professors or TAs.

Group Workshops

A few times each semester, Speaking Fellows offer a series of one-hour, small group workshops called “Public Speaking and the Intellectual Voice,” which are open to any Barnard students looking to improve their speaking skills (Columbia students may participate if enrolled in a Barnard course, or if they have permission from their Columbia professors or TAs).  Topics draw on knowledge and activities from a variety of fields – feminist theory, debate, negotiation strategies, critical race theory, psychology, even stand-up comedy – to help students practice, improve, and experiment with their speaking styles.  In all workshops, students are on their feet, trying out activities and engaging in meaningful discussions with the support of a Speaking Fellow and a small group of peers.  Participants come to understand speaking as an integral part of self-expression and intellectual creativity.

> Find a list of current workshop topics and dates