Document 11903851

Upper-division Writing Requirement Review Form (5/4/09)
I. General Education Review – Upper-division Writing Requirement
Communication Studies
Course # (i.e. ANTH COMM 395
455) or sequence
Course(s) Title
Communication and Conflict-Writing
Description of the requirement if it is not a single course
Communication Studies has several writing-intensive courses that may be used by
Communication Studies majors to fulfill the Upper-Division Writing Requirement. We are
requesting one-time approval for COMM 395 (Communication and Conflict-Writing) to be
included in the list of COMM courses that satisfy Upper-Division Writing. COMM 395 will be
taught Spring, 2011. We are submitting separate requests to make this a permanent course
(COMM 413) that satisfies Upper-division Writing as of the 2011 catalog.
II. Endorsement/Approvals
Complete the form and obtain signatures before submitting to Faculty Senate Office.
Please type / print name Signature
Alan Sillars
Phone / Email
[email protected]
Program Chair
Steven Schwarze
III Overview of the Course Purpose/ Description
This course examines the nature of human conflict with special attention to communication
processes that escalate, manage, and mediate disputes. The course addresses such topics as the
basic elements and nature of conflict, conflict styles, strategies, and patterns, subjective and
discursive framing of conflict, power and resistance, interest-based negotiation, and conflict
mediation. The concepts and theories discussed in the course are broadly applicable to different
types of conflict, including interpersonal, political, environmental, organizational, and family
The content of COMM 395 (Communication and Conflict-Writing) is equivalent to COMM 412
(Communication and Conflict); however, COMM 395 is a writing intensive class designed to
fulfill the Upper Division Writing Requirement of UM’s general education requirements. Credit
is not allowed for both COMM 395 and COMM 412.
IV Learning Outcomes: Explain how each of the following learning outcomes will be achieved.
Students generate their own questions for
Student learning outcomes :
investigation in the conflict case study by
Identify and pursue more sophisticated
applying and extending theoretical material
questions for academic inquiry
covered in the class. The questions are
synthesized in the central thesis for the case
study, justified by the report’s rationale, and
developed through the observations and
conclusions in the report.
Students conduct a conflict case study in which
Find, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize
they locate documents describing conflict from
information effectively from diverse sources
(see the perspective of the principal parties and
analyze these texts based on theoretical
concepts in the conflict literature. The research
paper integrates research involving academic
books and journals with students’ own
structured observations.
The research paper requires that students
Manage multiple perspectives as appropriate
manage and clearly distinguish multiple
perspectives, including contrasting perspectives
of principal parties in conflict, third-party
perspectives (e.g., news reports, historical
accounts), theoretical perspectives, and the
students’ own observations, inferences, and
Instructions for the paper specify that it should
Recognize the purposes and needs of
be written in a voice appropriate to a report of a
discipline-specific audiences and adopt the
research project directed to those who study
academic voice necessary for the chosen
conflict management (students, professors,
practitioners). The qualities of appropriate
voice will be reinforced through in-class
writing workshops and writing critiques.
The major research paper will be submitted in
Use multiple drafts, revision, and editing in
conducting inquiry and preparing written work stages, with instructor and peer critiques on
initial drafts. The final paper requires revision
based on instructor critiques.
The paper requires citation of sources and other
Follow the conventions of citation,
formatting in APA style.
documentation, and formal presentation
appropriate to that discipline
Students will be required to utilize UM library
Develop competence in information
data bases, such as ComAbstracts and
technology and digital literacy (link)
Communication and Mass Media Complete,
when conducting their literature review. They
will also be introduced to Web resources for the
study of conflict and alternative dispute
resolution (e.g., Conflict Research
Consortium, Campus Conflict Resolution
Resource Project).
V. Writing Course Requirements Check list
Is enrollment capped at 25 students?
If not, list maximum course enrollment.
Explain how outcomes will be adequately met
for this number of students. Justify the request
for variance.
Are outcomes listed in the course syllabus? If
not, how will students be informed of course
X Yes  No
X Yes  No
X Yes  No
There is a detailed description of the major
research paper in the syllabus. Additional detail
is provided in a separate handout (attached).
Guidelines for the paper will be reinforced in
class throughout the semester. Other writing
assignments (reaction papers, writing selfassessment and peer critiques) will be explained
in class.
Briefly explain how students are provided with
Students will read and apply sections of Lunsford
tools and strategies for effective writing and editing (2005), The everyday writer. In-class writing
in the major.
workshops will be used to indentify principles of
effective writing and common writing errors.
Students will conduct a writing self-assessment
and perform peer critiques. The instructor will
critique drafts of the major research paper,
applying writing principles discussed in class and
in the writing textbook.
Which written assignments include revision in
Students are required to revise the major research
response to instructor’s feedback?
paper (a conflict case study) based on instructor
Are expectations for Information Literacy listed in
 Yes X No
the course syllabus? If not, how will students be
Written guidelines for the conflict case study
informed of course expectations?
indicate that students should review relevant
background literature, relying on academic books
and articles. During class, the instructor will
discuss differences between research literature
written for an academic audience versus popular
literature targeted to a mass audience. The
instructor will reinforce this distinction by
discussing examples of sources and their
appropriate uses and limitations. The instructor
will also demonstrate library data bases that are
most useful for accessing academic research on
communication and conflict. The major research
paper will develop students’ skill at integrating
outside sources with the students’ own
observations and analysis, based on an original
case study.
VI. Writing Assignments: Please describe course assignments. Students should be required to
individually compose at least 20 pages of writing for assessment. At least 50% of the course grade
should be based on students’ performance on writing assignments. Clear expression, quality, and
accuracy of content are considered an integral part of the grade on any writing assignment.
Conflict case study drafts (8-12 pages)
Formal Graded Assignments
Conflict case study revision (8-12 pages)
Reaction papers (4 papers, each 2-3 pages)
Writing self-assessment (4-6 pages)
Peer critiques – students will use a template to
Informal Ungraded Assignments
critique drafts submitted by other students
Are detailed requirements for all written
assignments including criteria for evaluation in the
course syllabus? If not how and when will students
be informed of written assignments? Please attach
one example of instructions for written assignment.
VII. Syllabus: Paste syllabus below or attach and send digital copy with form.  The syllabus
should clearly describe how the above criteria are satisfied. For assistance on syllabus preparation
Paste syllabus here.
PROFESSOR: Alan Sillars
Office: LA 345
Office hours:
email: [email protected]
Conflict is a common feature of personal, professional and public life that has a variety
of potential consequences. Although conflict can be a disruptive force, it can also lead to
innovation, improved adjustment, and better decisions. By studying conflict, we hope to
gain competency at managing conflicts and to move them in a productive direction.
This course examines the intricacies of human conflict with special attention to
communication processes that escalate, manage, and mediate disputes. We will cover such
topics as the basic elements and nature of conflict, conflict styles, strategies, and patterns,
subjective and discursive framing of conflict, power and resistance, interest-based
negotiation, and conflict mediation. The concepts and theories discussed in the course are
broadly applicable to different types of conflict. We will analyze examples of
interpersonal, political, environmental, organizational, and family conflicts. Both theory
and application are stressed, with an emphasis on their inter-relationship.
The content of COMM 395 (Communication and Conflict-Writing) is equivalent to
COMM 412 (Communication and Conflict); however, COMM 395 is a writing intensive
class designed to fulfill the Upper Division Writing Requirement of UM’s general
education requirements. Credit is not allowed for both COMM 395 and COMM 412. If
you have already taken COMM 412 or are now taking that class, you are not eligible to
enroll in COMM 395.
We will work to enhance writing proficiency through in-class workshops focused
on principles of effective writing and identification of common writing errors. Peer
critiques and a writing self-assessment will help students identify writing strengths and
areas for improvement. You will submit five papers for the course, including four short
reaction papers that respond to assigned readings and a major research paper consisting of a
conflict case study. You will submit portions of the case study in stages over the course of
the semester and revise the paper based on instructor and peer feedback. Papers will be
graded based on writing as well as content.
By the end of the semester, students should achieve the following learning outcomes for
upper-division writing courses:
Identify and pursue more sophisticated questions for academic inquiry
Find, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize information effectively from diverse sources
Manage multiple perspectives as appropriate
Recognize the purposes and needs of discipline-specific audiences and adopt the
academic voice necessary for the chosen discipline
Use multiple drafts, revision, and editing in conducting inquiry and preparing
written work
Follow the conventions of citation, documentation, and formal presentation
appropriate to that discipline
Develop competence in information technology and digital literacy
Wilmot, W.W. & Hocker, J.L. (2005). Interpersonal conflict (7th ed.). New York:
Fisher, E., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement
without giving in (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
Lunsford, A. A. (2005). The Everyday Writer, (3rd Edition). Boston: Bedford/St.
Electronic Reserve (Mansfield Library)
Sillars, A. Roberts, L., Dun, T., & Leonard, K. (2001). Stepping into the stream of
thought: Cognition during marital conflict. In V. Manusov & J. H. Harvey (Eds.),
Attribution, communication behavior, and close relationships (pp. 193-210).
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rogan, R.G. (forthcoming). A terrorist’s messages to the world: A frame analysis
of Osama bin Laden’s fatwas. In Donohue, W.A., Kauffman, S.,& Rogan, R.G.
(Eds), Framing in Negotiation: State of the art. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Lutgen-Sandvik, P. (2006). Take this job and…: Quitting and other forms of
resistance to workplace bullying. Communication Monographs, 73, 406-433.
Web Readings
Rosenberg, S. Face. Beyond intractability. G. Burgess & H. Burgess (Eds.),
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted February,
2004 to
There will be two exams over the lectures and readings. The exams will be a
combination of objective and short essay questions. The second exam will be
Conflict case study
You will write a paper analyzing a conflict that is in the public domain, for
example, a conflict that is portrayed in the news, on the internet, in historical documents, or
in literature. The conflict can be real or fictional and either historical or contemporary,
provided that you can locate sufficient material to conduct an in-depth analysis. To
conduct the analysis, you will need written texts (for example, letters, blog posts, speeches,
news reports) that give background on the conflict and also provide first person accounts of
the conflict from the perspective of the principal parties. One of the goals of the paper is to
analyze how people subjectively and discursively frame conflict, so you need statements
from parties who are directly involved in the conflict describing the situation in their own
words. Third party analysis (such as news reports, historical analysis, or editorials by third
parties) may be useful as background but you will also need first person accounts to
conduct the analysis.
The paper may take the form of either: 1) a frame analysis in which you identify
subjective and discursive frames in a conflict and analyze their implications (see the Rogan
reading as a model), or 2) a conflict assessment focusing on particular aspects of conflict
(e.g., power, goals, culture) that seem important to the case that you are analyzing (see
Wilmot and Hocker’s Conflict Assessment Guide for ideas). Some examples of suitable
material for either analysis include: 1) documents or web pages produced by organizations
involved in a local environmental conflict; 2) speeches, interviews, and other public
statements by political figures involved in international disputes; 3) a novel that provides a
complex account of family conflict, 4) counter-institutional web sites that vent employee
(e.g.,,,; 5) public testimony at meetings (such as City Council meetings) that
involve conflicts over land use or neighborhood planning; 6) blogs and other web posts that
air conflicts involving celebrities, sports figures and/or their fans; or 7) news stories that
reveal differences in media framing of conflict (e.g., stories about Middle East conflicts by
U.S. vs. Middle Eastern news sources).
There are other possibilities and I will consider creative ideas but keep in mind that
this is not a self-analysis paper, so the conflict should not be one that you have personally
experienced or that involves your own circle of acquaintances. In addition, you must work
from written texts. Movies and television shows do not provide sufficient material, unless
supplanted with transcripts and other documents. In most cases, you cannot conduct your
own interviews with disputing parties without first obtaining approval from UM’s
Institutional Review Board.
Other ideas and guidelines for the research paper will be covered in class.
Attendance, participation, and class preparation
Class attendance and participation are essential because much of the course content
will be presented through class discussions and activities, including writing workshops.
More than three absences will result in a grade reduction, with the number of points
deducted based on the number of absences over three. In addition, you have to be in class
on days when reaction papers are due to get credit, since the reaction papers are designed to
stimulate class discussion of the readings. Of course, I will show flexibility toward
someone who misses days for reasons that are truly unavoidable, such as an extended
illness or family emergency. Please email me if such a situation arises.
Before reaction papers are due, I will distribute a set of questions about the reading
that you might consider and write about. Please come to class prepared to discuss the
questions and the content of your reaction paper. There will also be a few mini-assignments
(peer critiques and a writing self assessment) that require some out-of-class preparation.
Grades will be assigned using the +/- system on the following basis:
Exam 1
Exam 2
Conflict case study – draft intro. and background
Conflict case study – draft analysis, results, conclusion
Conflict case study -- completed, revised
Reaction papers (4)
Peer critiques and writing self-assessment
100 points
100 points
50 points
75 points
75 points
60 points
40 points
500 total possible
Submit a brief description of your plans for the conflict
case study, including the texts that you plan to analyze.
Submit draft of conflict case study, initial sections
(introduction and background).
Exam 1
Submit draft of case study, remaining sections (analysis,
results, conclusion).
Completed, revised conflict case study paper due
Exam 2
Exam 1:
Wilmot & Hocker, chapters 1-3,5,7,10
Exam 2:
Wilmot & Hocker, chapters 4,8,9
Fisher, Ury, & Patton, chapters 1-5
I will notify you in advance and give you questions to consider before the days when we
will discuss specific readings and when reaction papers are due.
Academic Misconduct:
Academic misconduct includes cheating on exams, plagiarism, interfering with the work
of another student, and fabrication of research. Plagiarism entails using the words or
ideas of another source without giving appropriate credit to the source. See Lunsford’s
The Everyday Writer for guidelines about plagiarism and ways to avoid it. Depending on
the severity of the violation, plagiarism or other misconduct will result in an “F” on the
assignment, failure of the course, and/or recommendation of a University sanction.
Analysis Guidelines
1. Text
a. Your “texts” consist of written material that you analyze for the case study (a
play, web blog, personal or organizational web pages, etc.).
b. The texts should be of sufficient length and complexity to allow you to
analyze the conflict in depth.
c. The texts should provide first-person accounts of conflict. This means that the
texts include statements by people who are directly involved in the conflict
(e.g., employees protesting the actions of their employer, representatives of
organizations involved in environmental disputes, political figures involved in
national or international conflicts, individuals expressing conflict on the web,
literary figures embroiled in conflict).
d. Good texts for analysis should reveal the perspectives of disputing parties
about: 1) their own role in the conflict; 2) the role played by the other party or
parties to the dispute; 3) the relationship between the conflicting parties; and
3) how they view the conflict as a whole – what the issues are and what the
overall story (history of events) looks like.
e. It is generally best to have texts that portray multiple sides to a dispute (e.g.,
what employees say about a contentious policy versus what the company
2. To conduct the analysis:
a. Start with a set of general “codes” (categories) that represent important basic
distinctions that you will use in your analysis.
i. For a frame analysis, use the frame categories from the Rogan reading
– whole story frames, identity/self-presentation frames,
characterization frames, conflict management frames, relationship
frames, moral judgment frames. If some of these categories are more
important than others in your text, then narrow it down (e.g., focus
only on whole story frames, self frames, characterization frames, and
relationship frames).
ii. For a conflict assessment, your codes should reflect concepts that are
the central focus of the paper. For example, if you wish to analyze
types and levels of conflict, you might distinguish content,
relationship, identity, and process goals, using Wilmot and Hocker’s
Conflict Assessment Guide, or act-based issues, value-based issues,
interest-based issues, and nonrealistic issues, based on Wehr’s
Conflict Map.
b. Read through your texts and mark examples where the text reveals something
about any of the codes that you began with. For example, if a particular
statement suggests a whole story frame, underline the passage and write “HS”
(or another abbreviation) in the margin. If you doing a conflict assessment
and one of your codes is power assertion, mark “PA” next to any passage that
you think reveals something relevant to the code.
c. Also record short phrases (secondary codes) that reveal more specifically the
content of the text that you have marked. These phrases should identify
specific frames or themes under the general categories. For example, if you
were analyzing employee complaints about Radio Shack for power relations,
you might write “RS is a bully” or “bully” next to any “PA” code that
suggests that Radio Shack bullies its employees.
i. You can start assigning secondary codes either when you first mark
the original codes or later as you go back through the text.
ii. You can also review and revise these secondary codes as you code
more of the text. For example, perhaps the “bully” theme noted above
did not occur to you initially but as you code the text you find several
similar examples. At this point, you can go back and remark any
examples that suggest the “bully” theme. (This is easier to do if you
code the texts electronically using a word processing program.)
iii. Look for secondary codes (specific frames or themes) that represent a
cluster of similar examples from the text; for example, several
statements about the organization bullying its employees.
d. Once you have finished coding your text, look for overall trends in the kinds
of examples you have identified and begin to summarize these trends.
e. Think about the implications suggested by your analysis: What is the overall
story of this conflict from the perspective of the different parties? How does
the perceived imbalance of power contribute to the conflict? What does your
analysis suggest about the depth of the conflict and potential for constructive
management? Note that these questions are just examples. There is no set of
stock questions here you should address about the implications. Talk about
the implications that are important given the focus of your analysis.
The paper should include the following sections:
1. Introduction
a. The introduction should consist of a few paragraphs at the beginning that draw
attention to the topic, explain your focus, state your thesis, preview the paper
as a whole, and provide a transition to the next section. By a thesis I mean
one sentence that summarizes the main conclusions of your analysis – what it
reveals (or is designed to reveal) about conflict. Although you may be fuzzy
about your thesis when you begin the analysis, you should try to develop a
specific thesis by the time you have completed the paper. A good thesis is a
kind of theoretical statement explaining the way conflict works, as illustrated
by the analysis. The thesis could be based on an idea from the course, the
literature, or your own insights.
2. Background
a. Discuss the background and history of the conflict, such as the parties
involved, the events that have transpired, the main issues that have been
identified, and so forth.
b. Review literature on important concepts that are the focus of your analysis
(e.g., research and theory on conflict frames, hidden power in organizations,
or marital conflict). The review should draw upon academic books and
articles (minimum four sources beyond assigned readings) and use APA style
for citations.
3. Analysis
a. Describe the textual material analyzed in the paper and how it was accessed
(if applicable).
b. Describe coding methods
4. Results
a. Describe, document, and summarize the observations of your analysis (e.g.,
instances of particular conflict frames or relationship and identity issues).
b. Interpret the significance of the observations (e.g., how contrasting conflict
frames revealed political or cultural differences; how communication about
relational or identity issues escalated conflict).
c. This section should be the longest and most detailed part of the paper.
5. Conclusion
a. Summarize the main observations and implications of the analysis while
reinforcing and expanding on the paper’s central thesis. Emphasize the
broader implications of your case study for understanding conflict generally.
6. Appendix
a. Include a copy of your textual materials marked in a fashion that shows how
they were coded. If the texts are extensive (e.g., a complete book), include
representative portions of the texts or the most important sections.
Style and Format
1. Use subheadings before each main section of the paper (i.e., “Background,”
“Analysis,” “Results,” “Conclusion,” “Appendix”). You might also break up the
results section into subsections with subordinate subheadings, like this (following
APA style):
Identity/Self Presentation Frames
[Paragraph begins here.]
2. Double space throughout.
3. The paper should read like the report of a research project, which means that you
describe your methods and document your observations and conclusions carefully (by
citing examples from the text) and use appropriate style. Appropriate style in this
case means an objective and descriptive tone and moderate formality. For example,
avoid excessive self reference (e.g., “At first I thought about doing…but then I
decided to…), slang, and so forth. Consider your audience to be the general
readership composed of people who study conflict management (students, professors,
4. The paper should be 8-12 pages, not counting the appendix, with standard font,
margins, spacing.
1. Subject material
a. Rich, interesting texts with appropriate length, detail, and complexity
b. First person accounts that reveal multiple perspectives of disputing parties
c. Background material sufficient to clarify the context of the conflict
2. Analysis
a. Systematic coding of texts
b. Methods are clearly described
c. Observations are well documented
d. Inferences and speculations are appropriately qualified and linked to
3. Application of Conflict Theory
a. Uses concepts from the conflict literature and class appropriately
b. Literature review integrates academic literature with case study observations
tied to a central thesis
c. Literature review has sufficient depth and uses appropriate sources
d. Interesting/non-obvious observations, implications, and conclusions tied to a
central thesis
4. Organization and Style
a. Clear central thesis
b. Well organized sections (introduction, background, analysis, results,
conclusion) that systematically develop and reinforce the central thesis
c. Appropriate style/voice
d. Well edited for spelling and grammar
e. Follows APA and other style guidelines
f. Revisions utilize instructor and peer feedback to improve the paper