DC Handbook

This DC Handbook is your main resource for all the requirements and components of the Distinguished Communicator certification process. If you have any questions regarding your path to completion, refer to your tracking sheet and/or email your CxC Rep.

Quick Links

Introduction

Courses, Workshops & Advising

Public Portfolio

Private Documents Submission

Certification Assessment

Additional Information

Certification Overview

Effective communication is critical to everything we do in life; it is the core of successful relationships. Whether you are working with your professors, classmates, friends, colleagues or family, being able to effectively communicate your thoughts and ideas is central to human nature.

Post-graduation, your ability to effectively communicate becomes even more important, particularly in today’s workplace. Employers are seeking individuals who are poised to become leaders in their field.  Above all else, employers are looking for graduates who can effectively communicate their ideas to others.

The LSU Distinguished Communicator program is for self-motivated LSU undergraduates who want to refine their communication skills and excel in their chosen professions. Students who successfully achieve this unique certification are recognized at graduation and receive a permanent commendation on their official transcripts, giving them significant leverage in today’s job market.

In order to earn certification, students must:

  • apply to the program prior to completing 80 hours of course work (Students with more than 80 hours, but at least 3 semesters remaining, are still eligible.)
  • contract with a faculty advisor at least 4 semesters prior to graduation and meet regularly to ensure timely submission of all components needed for certification
  • attend DC Housekeeping meeting once a year to check in about progress
  • earn a B- or higher in at least 4 C-I courses – minimum course mode credits: 3 written, 2 spoken, 1 visual & 1 tech (Approved individual C-I contract may be applied)
  • participate in a minimum of 3 approved workshops designed to improve communication skills
  • compile evidence of communication skills to demonstrate exceptional proficiencies in all four modes
  • reflect on your communication skills and experiences
  • participate in an experiential learning activity related to your field that enables you to practice effective communication skills
  • serve in a leadership role
  • complete an approved public portfolio showcasing your communication skills
  • unequivocally prove yourself as an effective communicator
  • be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university

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Timeline & Checklist

The Distinguished Communicator program is a progressive program with deadlines along the way. The personal tracking document can give you a better idea of when you should begin certain components and when your due dates are. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for a housekeeping meeting to meet and map out your personal plan toward certification.

 

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Communications Training & Skills Development

It takes continuous practice to build and improve your Communication Skills, which is why you will undergo a variety of learning experiences throughout your Distinguished Communicator journey, including class instruction, workshop training, and individual advising.

Communication-Intensive (C-I) Courses are discipline-specific courses that promote deeper learning of the content while also providing advanced instruction on effective communication in discipline-specific writing, speaking, visual and/or technological communication. These courses typically employ active, project-based learning, giving you ample opportunities to practice communicating disciplinary knowledge and to receive constructive feedback from your professors and peers.

Most C-I courses focus on two modes, which means you are able to earn two C-I credits per 3-hour course. Distinguished Communicator candidates are required to earn at least the following: 3 written, 2 spoken, 1 visual and 1 technological. You must earn a B- or higher in the course for you to receive C-I credit.  Certified C-I sections are marked in the LSU Course Offerings so you can easily identify them during registration. You can also find a comprehensive list of C-I Courses on the CxC website, and you can talk with your CxC Representative to help you locate C-I Courses with your degree path.  Once you complete a C-I course, it will display on your degree audit and transcript.

Each time you complete a C-I Course or complete an Independent C-I Contract, you must document it using the Course Credits Form. This will help you and your CxC Representative keep track of your courses and credits and give you an opportunity to briefly reflect on the advancement of your communication skills during your Distinguished Communicator journey.

In addition to earning the minimum C-I course credits, Distinguished Communicators are required to participate in at least three Communication Workshops. CxC offers a variety of workshops each semester focused on helping you further develop your skills. Each time you attend a workshop, you must complete the Workshop Participation Form. This will help you and your CxC Representative keep track of your workshop credits and give you an opportunity to briefly reflect on how your skills are improving.

Your experiences in C-I courses and workshops, combined with the one-on-one feedback provided by your CxC Representative and your Faculty Advisor, will help you to build exceptional writing, speaking, visual, and technological communication skills. The combination of these trainings will prepare you for success as an LSU Distinguished Communicator!

 

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Independent C-I Course Credit Contract

If C-I Courses are not available within your specific degree path, you may submit Independent C-I Contracts with your professors. When contracting a course, you and your professor will determine the appropriate communication activities for the course. You can only contract two courses per semester (Fall and Spring semesters), and may contract for a maximum of two mode credits per course. To receive C-I credit for the contracted course, you must earn a B- or higher in the course and on the C-I projects outlined in your contract. Signed C-I Contracts must be submitted to CxC by 4 p.m. on the Friday of the third week of the semester.

 

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Student-Faculty Advisor Contract

To ensure Distinguished Communicator candidates are mastering communication skills relevant to their disciplines students must work with a Faculty Advisor. The Faculty Advisor’s role is to provide support, resources, coaching, and valuable feedback that will enable the student to develop into a successful communicator within the student’s field of study or area of interest. Faculty Advisors should be selected and the signed contract should be submitted four semesters prior to the student’s graduation date. The Student-Faculty Advisor Contract must be completed four semesters prior to the student’s graduation date.

 

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Planning & Developing Your Public Portfolio

Your Public Portfolio is a public website that you will develop to further your post-graduation goals. It should be directed at a specific audience (e.g., employer or grad school admissions officer)—NOT your CxC Representative or your Faculty Advisor. It must showcase your knowledge of the field you are pursuing and your exceptional communication skills. Think of it as your online résumé and presentation of work samples. Identified in consultation with DC faculty advisor, DC candidates will be asked to include the following materials in their public portfolio in addition to any other materials the DC advisor identifies as important for the student’s professional trajectory:

  • Demonstration of exemplary multimodal communication skills within the discipline
  • Experiential Learning: incorporated narrative of practice and application of disciplinary communication skills outside of the classroom (e.g., internship, study abroad, service-learning, co-ops, research)
  • Leadership Communication: incorporated narrative of practice and application of leadership communication skills outside the classroom (must be different from you experiential learning narrative)
  • Well-developed LinkedIn profile
  • Downloadable, print-ready résumé

As you put together your portfolio, you should use the Final Assessment Rubric to critique the evolution of your portfolio. The goal is to receive a rating of ‘outstanding’ during the final certification review.

Building a Better Public Portfolio

While the design and content of your public portfolio is completely dictated by you and your intended audience, there are several things CxC encourages you to consider while planning and building your public portfolio. To see tips to build a better portfolio, click here.

The first step in developing your Public Portfolio is to draft a plan. You should do this by completing the Public Portfolio Plan with your faculty advisor. This is an electronic document allowing you to continue to review and edit your plan. After you have a solid plan, use that to work through the process of developing a great portfolio. Remember to consult your CxC Representative and Faculty Advisor throughout this process.

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Private Documents Submission

Your Private Documents will be used internally by your Faculty Advisor, Revision Board and your CxC Rep to assess your skills as a candidate for the Distinguished Communicator certification. This is your opportunity to reflect; looking back at your previous experiences, evaluating what you’ve done, learning from your actions, setting goals, and creating your own road-map for success. As you work toward the LSU Distinguished Communicator certification, reflections will be an integral part of your journey. 

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DC Candidates will be asked to email the following materials as private documents to their DC faculty advisor, CxC rep and cxc@lsu.edu for review: 

 

Dear Reviewer Letter

This letter to the panel should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The letter must be a formal letter addressed to the Review Board, not exceeding 3 pages using a reasonable font size and submitted as a PDF document.  If you aren’t certain how to properly format a formal letter, review this resource.
  • The letter must be attached as a pdf, using the following naming convention: [last name] DC Reviewer Letter.
  • A concise, critical explication of what’s inside your public portfolio, discussing your skills development as a communicator in written, spoken, technological and visual communication and how this is demonstrated in your portfolio. Identify specific aspects of your portfolio and critique them.
    • What about your public portfolio demonstrates your exceptional skill (as opposed to average skill) in written communication? How does this demonstrate your growth in this communication mode?
    • What about your public portfolio demonstrates your exceptional skill (as opposed to average skill) in visual communication? How does this demonstrate your growth in this communication mode?
    • What about your public portfolio demonstrates your exceptional skill (as opposed to average skill) in technological communication? How does this demonstrate your growth in this communication mode?
    • What about your public portfolio and/or your private spoken sample demonstrates your exceptional skill (as opposed to average skill) in spoken communication? How does this demonstrate your growth in this communication mode?
  • How, specifically, will your public portfolio enhance your post-LSU professional development?
  • What specific communication skills have you developed as a result of your time in the Distinguished Communicator program, and how will you apply them to your post-LSU professional development?

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Link to your Spoken Sample

  • Your Spoken Sample must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and shared as a link viewable online
  • It is acceptable to have the link password-protected or unlisted but you are responsible for providing the password and direct link
  • No video (.mov, .mp4, etc.) files for download will be accepted

Final Assessment Rubric

The Final Assessment Rubric is used by your Faculty Advisor and the Faculty Review Panel to evaluate your LSU Distinguished Communicator materials. The rubric can be used as a guide to assess the quality of your work during the creation process.

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CxC Advisory Council Membership Commitment

The goal of the CxC Advisory Council is to assist in the process of advancing the CxC program at all levels, including C-I courses, CxC studios, student workshops, the LSU DC program and CxC hosted events, including TEDxLSU.  While applying to be a member of the council is voluntary, once a membership position has been accepted, the member must complete and honor the commitments below.

The CxC Advisory Board will consist of 13-15 members who, collectively, vary in discipline and skill sets and represent all CxC constituency groups (faculty, students, community, alumni and industry professionals).

  • All Board members must demonstrate a strong commitment to student advancement, faculty development and community collaboration.
  • Members will serve a 2 year term (with some flexibility to establish efficient rotation within the first few years of the Board's creation).
  • When opportunities or challenges arise that require in-depth feedback and suggestions from the CxC community, Board members will lead working groups to engage critical stakeholders outside of the Board in conversations and decisions (i.e., a faculty member on the Board may be asked to lead a working roup of non-Board C-I faculty members in considering revisions to the C-I course evaluations).
  • Board members will participate in face-to-face board meetings that will be held quarterly, with additional meetings held via video or audio conference as needed throughout the year.

In addition to advising CxC, Board members will

  • publicly support the need for, and value of, advancing LSU undergraduates' communication skills. 
  • continuously champion CxC and its programming initiatives, such as TEDxLSU.
  • energetically support initiatives between LSU and private, public, and nonprofit organizations in the best interest of student and faculty success.

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FAQ: Distinguished Communicator Certificate

  • Must I apply as a freshman to the Distinguished Communicator program? 

No, you can be a sophomore or junior. You can apply as long as you have not completed more than 80 hours of course work. If you have more than 80 hours, you must have at least 3 or more semesters remaining before you graduate.

  • I am not a Communication major. Am I still eligible for the certification?

Yes! The Distinguished Communicator certification is open to undergraduates in ALL majors at LSU. Good communication skills are important no matter which field you are studying or what job you plan to pursue post-graduation.

  • What are the minimum requirements for entry into Distinguished Communicators?

We look for a current and overall GPA of 3.0 or higher; however, since GPA isn’t always representative of your full potential to become a strong communicator, we do accept students with lower GPAs. In the application we ask everyone for two of their strongest communication samples, so be sure to include your best work

  • I just completed the Distinguished Communicator application. How do I begin? What should I do next?

Start by signing up and attending an applicant housekeeping meeting

  • Are there specific faculty members who can serve as my Faculty Advisor?

No, all LSU professors are eligible to serve as Advisors to Distinguished Communicator candidates; however, you must make sure the faculty member you select is willing to assist you through the certification process. You must complete a Student-Faculty Advisor contract and submit it to the CxC office no later than 4 semesters prior to your graduation.

  • How should I select my Faculty Advisor?

Because the Distinguished Communicator program focuses on mastering discipline-specific communication skills, you should select a Faculty Advisor who specializes in the field you are interested in pursuing after graduation. For example, if you want to be an engineer when you graduate, your Faculty Advisor should be well versed in engineering. You also want to find someone with whom you will work well and who is committed to helping you complete this certification.

  • What if the Faculty Advisor I approach doesn’t know much about the Distinguished Communicator program?

CxC has several programs in place to orient Faculty Advisors. Once you submit your Student-Faculty Advisor contract, CxC will invite your Advisor to an Advisor Training session. If your selected Advisor has questions before signing your contract, CxC is available to discuss the program’s requirements.

  •  Are my C-I courses extra course hours on top of what my major requires?

No, most students are able to find courses that are required courses in their degree programs and certified as Communication-Intensive (C-I). Find a listing of all C-I courses here. Also, when you’re browsing myLSU Course Offerings, C-I courses will be denoted as such. If you cannot find enough C-I courses within your planned course path, there are opportunities for you to do Independent C-I Course Contracts.

  • What should I do if I’m having trouble finding C-I courses within my major?

You can do Independent C-I Course Contracts on any course, as long as the instructor is willing to work with you. Sometimes, you are doing communication-intensive work within the class, but for one reason or another, the class is not certified. Other times, by simply doing an additional project in the course, you can make it C-I. Either way, you can use C-I Contracts to earn needed credits.

  • If my schedule doesn’t enable me to make the CxC workshops, how can I fulfill the 3 workshop requirement

You can get credit for other relevant activities to fulfill this requirement, but substitutions must be approved by your CxC Rep. In order to receive credit you must submit a Workshop Reflection Form.

  • Do I have to submit drafts?

You will submit your Public Portfolio Final Draft to CxC the semester before you graduate for an assessment. After receiving feedback, you will make final edits to your portfolio, turn in the final version of your portfolio, and turn in additional Private Documents at the beginning of your last semester for a final assessment.

  • What is the deadline for all of my final materials?

This is a progressive program, and you should meet a variety of milestones each year to stay on track.  There are deadlines for various components your last four semesters. Refer to the Personal Tracking Form individual requirements section for more info. 

  • How often should I meet with my Faculty Advisor regarding my certification?

You should meet with your Faculty Advisor at least once a semester to make sure you are on the path for being certified.  To meet with your CxC representative, you should sign up for 1 housekeeping meeting per year. 

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FAQ: Public Portfolio & Private Documents

 
  • How do I begin my Public Portfolio?
Work through the Public Portfolio Plan Form. It will walk you through the steps to planning and organizing a good Public Portfolio. Once you’ve drafted your plan, meet with your Faculty Advisor to discuss your plan and ideas. Also, carefully review the “Tips for Building a Better Portfolio” to help you avoid common mistakes. As you begin building your website, visit with your CxC Rep to help you achieve your vision.
 
  • What if I don’t know anything about creating websites?
It is okay; most students don’t. Learning to build a website is a skill you will be able to put on your resume, but don’t get caught up in the technology. Like past Distinguished Communicators, you will learn quickly. The overarching purpose is to get you to think critically about the work you produce, the skills you need to showcase to accomplish your post-college goals, and how you can best communicate all of this to your intended audience (e.g., employer, grad admissions officer, etc.).
 
  • Do I have to use specific software to build my Public Portfolio?
CxC suggests that you use Weebly, Wix or WordPress to build your Public Portfolio. Keep in mind that some of these tools are easier to use than others, so select the one that is most fitting for your level of technical expertise. Also, each tool comes with different templates and site styles, so you’ll want to select the one that is most complementary to you post-graduation goals and intended audience.
 
  • Where can I get help with building my Public Portfolio?
The CxC Studios can help you with any Distinguished Communicator requirements, including building your website. Your CxC Rep can help you plan your website, talk with you about visual design, and assist you with technical issues.
 
  • Will my Public Portfolio be a real, live website that anyone can see?
Yes, your Public Portfolio must be a working site published live to the Internet. 
 
  • What do you do with all of my documents after I graduate?
CxC may use your Private Documents and Public Portfolios to help LSU faculty become better teachers. Additionally, your materials serve to demonstrate the quality of skill LSU students possess. Anytime your Private documents are used in this manner, all private identifiers will be removed so as to not disclose your identity.
 
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