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Hauser Communication Research Lab grand opening set for Feb. 11
Posted: 01/28/2010
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The University of Texas-Pan American will celebrate the grand opening of the Hauser Communication Research Lab Thursday, Feb. 11 at noon. The lab, which is housed in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building, Room 172, was created to enhance student's oral competencies, including developing and assessing students' speaking and presentation skills.

Graduate teaching assistant and trained speech coach Gil Castillo assesses a student's presentation in the observation room of the Hauser Communication Research Lab.

"A lot of first impressions are based on your abilities to speak and speak well. Speech determines perceptions of intelligence, credibility and confidence, which is why this lab is so important," said Dr. Timothy Mottet, Henry W. and Margaret Hauser Endowed Chair in Communication.

In keeping with the wishes of the late Hauser's, Winter Texans who were Mottet's endowed chair benefactors, the funds from the endowment were to be used to help students graduate with excellent oral proficiency.

The 625-square-foot lab is comprised of three areas - one a suite of offices for graduate assistants, one a speaking/research lab, and one an observation room. The lab is equipped with two remote controlled cameras and six ceiling microphones that have the ability to capture naturally occurring conversations. The observation room contains transcription software, videotaping equipment, and one-way mirrors for use in experimental trials.

The lab is currently open to all students in the College of Arts and Humanities and can help students prepare for presentations and speeches, or address their anxiety about public speaking.

"Everyone experiences some form of communication apprehension," said Marisa L. Saavedra-Flores, director of the lab. "Having confidence in how you communicate is so important to being a confident individual and a confident citizen of the world. We want to show students that anyone can improve with practice."

Saavedra-Flores said trained speech coaches are available to help students develop their presentational speaking skills. Students will present their speech to a coach and their speech will be digitally recorded and then played back to the student while in the lab so the coach and student can discuss ways that students can enhance their delivery. The recording of the student's presentation will be transferred to a student's thumb drive or DVD for later reference.

"We want to provide students with a safe and private opportunity where they can refine their work before they present it publically," Saavedra-Flores said.

The lab will also be available for faculty and graduate students to conduct communication research.

"I hope this lab serves to stimulate research productivity of the faculty," Mottet said. "The lab has the equipment that enables faculty to do the types of research that they currently want to do."

Mottet said he hopes this lab will reintroduce the importance of speaking and listening across the curriculum on the campus because it is very important in today's workforce.

"Human resource directors across the United States often cite communication skills, specifically speaking and listening skills, as the top skills they are looking for in applicants," Mottet said. "The lab will help students find their voice, defend their ideas and see themselves speak. My hope is that they will claim their voice and learn how to use it well and ethically."

The lab hours are Mondays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursdays 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Appointments to use the lab can be made in person at COAS 172.

For more information about the lab and its services, contact Saavedra-Flores at mlsaavedra@utpa.edu.

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