COMM 250- Communication Theory and Research Methods

COMM 250- Communication Theory and Research Methods
Section A- TR 12:45-2:00; Section B- TR 2:10-3:25 CMB 108
Fall 2006
Susan Dummer
Office: 20A Anderson Hall Phone: Ext. 7958
Office Hours: Mon & Wed 1-3 Or by appt. E-mail:
Course Description: This course examines the role of research methodologies used to
generate and test contemporary communication in social environments. Specifically, this
course examines current trends in communication research along with various fundamental
 Miller, K. I. (2005). Communication Theories: Perspectives, Processes and Contexts,
2nd. Ed. Boston: McGraw Hill
 Other supplemental readings as assigned by professor available on Course Reserve in
the LRC or on Blackboard
Attendance Policy: You are allowed two weeks worth of unexcused absences (4 classes).
After that, your final grade will be deducted by 3 points for each unexcused absence.
Assignments and presentation are due on the date assigned in the syllabus. If you miss an
assignment (with the exception of a quiz) you may make it up only at the professor's
discretion. There are NO make-ups for quizzes.
Note: By Communication Department policy, a student missing 25% or more of the total
class days available fails the class automatically. For this class, this means you fail if you
have 7 absences.
Students with disabilities: Please see me if you require additional accommodations.
Plagiarism: Don't do it. Period. Plagiarism means that you have used ideas or information
from another source and either credited the information as your own or have neglected to
give credit to the proper source. Although it can be done unintentionally, it is still an
offense. Plagiarism is punishable by an F on the assignment, an F for the course, or
disciplinary action by the College. Don't risk it. For specifics, please refer to student
handbook or honor code.
Respect: Please show respect to your fellow classmates by being on time to class, paying
attention while you are in class, not talking unless it is topic-related and addressed to the
whole class, silencing phones, refraining from text-messaging in class, completing other
class work, etc. You may not be interested in what we are discussing, but someone is.
Please allow them the opportunity to learn uninterrupted. I am very serious about
respecting the people around you. If you can not or do not want to participate in class on a
particular day, use one of your absences and give yourself and everyone else a break.
We may discuss issues and concepts you do not agree with. That's fine. I encourage you to
express your opinion in an eloquent and respectful way. Remember that your other
classmates may agree with you, but they may not. The only way for us to learn from one
another is to be able to engage in respectful discussion and debate. Along that vein, do not
hesitate to ask questions, request clarification, or ask that something be repeated.
Assignments and Grading
Research Article Abstract
Midterm Exam
Research Project Proposal
End of term Exam
Theory Application Paper
Theory App. Presentation
30 points
100 points
75 points
100 points
100 points
45 points
50 points
Sept. 19
Oct. 17
Oct. 31
Nov. 21
Nov. 28
Nov. 28-Dec. 7
Grading Schedule
500 points-461 points=A
414 points-390 points=B/C
460 points-440 points=A/B
389 points-350 points=C
Less than 300 points=F
439 points-415 points=B
349 points-300 points=D
Research Article Abstract
You will find a research article about a communication subject that interests you. You will
then write a 1-2 page summary of this article. What research questions were the authors
attempting to answer? What methods did they use? What did they find?
Research Project Proposal
Find a concept that interests you and write a 3-5 page proposal for how you would go about
conducting research about a specific question. This will consist of several steps--finding a
research question, doing a short literature review to find out what has been done on this
subject already, and deciding what methodology would best help you to find your answers.
Theory Application Paper and Presentation
Pick one of the theories we have discussed in class (or speak with me if you want to do one
we haven't covered) and apply that theory to a "real-life" construct. For example, you
might find a movie that illustrates a particular theory well. You would first describe the
theory you chose; then, summarize the movie. Finally, you would show how different parts
of the theory apply to parts of the movie. We will discuss this thoroughly throughout the
semester, and I will have additional handouts as the project gets closer. You will then give a
10 minute presentation summarizing your paper for the class.
Periodically I will give you unannounced quizzes over the reading material that was assigned
for that day's class and over the topics we discussed in the previous class. There will be 12
quizzes throughout the semester. Each quiz is worth 5 points. You will be able to drop your
lowest 2 quiz grades. Therefore, there will be no make-ups for missed quizzes.
Exams can cover any material covered in class or in readings. They may contain multiple
choice, true/false, matching, short answer, or essay questions. I will give you a review sheet
at least one week prior to the exam.
Please bring your text/materials to class and be prepared to discuss that day's topic and
readings. This calendar is tentative and may be modified as need be. Notice of changes will
be given with sufficient warning.
Please come by my office to see me early in the semester so that I can help you.
August 2931
Introduction to the course, Communication defined
Foundations of theory
Ch. 1
Ch. 2
Sept. 57
What is communication theory?
Post-Positivist perspectives
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
No Class----Use this time for researching abstract
Interpretive perspectives
Ch. 4
Critical perspectives
Ch. 5
Quantitative methodologies
Qualitative methodologies
Theories of symbolic organization
Theories of message production
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Theories of message processing
Theories of discourse
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Midterm Exam
Theories of developing relationships
Ch. 10
Theories of ongoing relationships
Organizational theories Project Proposals due
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Group comm. theories
Media processing
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Media and society
Ch. 15
Ch. 16
Catch-up day/Review
NCA Conference--No class
End of Term Exam
Thanksgiving--No class
Abstracts due