Communication Skills

Communication Skills

LaGuardia Community College embodies New York City's guarantee that all its citizens have the opportunity to get a college education. LaGuardia, begun with only a handful of students and faculty in 1971, was named for a mayor who cared about all New Yorkers, whatever their station in life. The college is another in a long tradition of original educational experiments in the United States, a world leader in public education.

To help fulfill the promise of Open Admissions and to serve all New Yorkers, LaGuardia accepted the challenge of teaching language skills, not only to the large numbers of high schoolgraduates who did not possess college-level reading skills, but to a large foreign language population. The Communication Skills courses were created to serve these students and our central goal has always been to prepare students for the challenges of academic reading.

It should be obvious that reading is fundamental to education; it should also be clear that college students do an enormous amount of reading, and that reading is, for lack of a better word, a "skill" that requires constant reinforcement and refinement. Higher education demands differing levels of reading proficiency. A 50-page paper in graduate school requires reading hundreds of pages of text; a dissertation, thousands of pages. Experienced readers recognize degrees of difficulty and levels of comprehension; they recognize that reading is referential, that reading is always grounded in content. And, despite the wonders of technology, reading is still fundamental, literacy still required.

The Communication Skills courses are at the heart of LaGuardia's mission - to give New York City's citizens access to higher education. Our mission within the college is to insure that once students have been admitted, they succeed.

The mission of the Communication Skills courses is to help students acquire the necessary cognitive tools to read, comprehend, and retain the wide variety of college-level materials necessary to succeed in LaGuardia's degree programs, and/or to move on to four-year schools. We are committed to providing students with the background knowledge and critical reading and thinking skills necessary to become an educated person.

The focus of a CSE course is exposition though we incorporate other forms as well. Our courses prepare students for their introductory courses in the majors. Thus students engage with content, vocabulary, and study skills that they use to read their textbooks, to listen to class lectures, and write class assignments. Our classes consist of lively discussions, arguments, careful listening and thinking.

Our reading courses are theme-centered. They focus on one or two themes per term; the readings, writing assignments, projects, and research are all related to the topic; students are held responsible for the content of their reading. Class and home assignments are geared to all levels of cognitive activity - starting with simple comprehension and moving up the ladder to sophisticated thinking tasks such as analyzing arguments, synthesizing multiple ideas, and evaluating claims. Theme-centered instruction gives the students a solid background, allowing them to gain in-depth knowledge and a firm grasp of complex topics and arguments. Moreover, we are aware that writing is the other side of reading, and crucial to success in college. Therefore, our students are asked to respond to what they read by writing response papers, summaries, and essays; they use the library; they research their papers.

Many students' reading competence needs to be reinforced after exiting from compulsory basic skills courses. To prepare truly college-ready readers, we offer students a range of electives that are designed to refine their skills. Our aim is to produce critical, flexible, and fluent readers.

The CSE courses participate in community projects, high school-college collaborations, learning communities, conferences, scholarly research, grants, and events throughout the college, CUNY and the community. The faculty is innovative and includes nationally recognized experts in the field. If CUNY is the gateway to a wider world for our students, the Communication Skills Program is the threshold.

Communication Skills: Curriculum and Pedagogy

Over the years, we have refined our philosophy and pedagogy, moving away from skills-based methods to content-rich, theme-based approaches.

Given the diverse nature of the non-traditional population that we serve here at LaGuardia, there is no denying that we need to devote a considerable portion of our energy to polishing up the skills of incoming students who are academically underprepared. This segment of our duties has taken on various labels, e.g. basic skills instruction, developmental education, remedial teaching.

Unfortunately, most college reading programs around the nation are cast in a negative light. Remediation seems to be the single and ultimate reason that college reading courses exist - to repair whatever is deficient. However, we see our role differently. We believe that there is life after remediation. Our students' reading competence needs to be reinforced after exiting from compulsory basic skills courses. To prepare truly college-ready readers, we offer students a range of electives that are designed to refine their skills. Our aim is to produce critical, flexible and fluent readers who appreciate the value of reading, and see the connection between reading and learning.


This page answers some frequently asked questions about the COMPASS/ACT Reading Test and other requirements for college reading courses at LaGuardia (Mr. Joseph Evering & the Reading Lab staff).

Communication Skills Courses


Contact the Program Coordinator at the contact information page.