Syllabus
Communication Theory - COMM 221-002, 40789
Spring 2020
Tuesdays, 11:15am - 12:30am, Ely 348

=============================================

Professor Nigel Dobereiner
Office: Ely 321
Office Hours:
Monday 1:30-2:00
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30-2:00
Office Phone: (413) 572-5743
E-mail: ndobereiner@westfield.ma.edu

This course will introduce you to a variety of perspectives from which to study communication theories. We will examine different models that have been developed to explain communication processes. Through readings, class discussions and writing, we will analyze the assumptions underlying various theories and examine their strengths and weaknesses. Areas of study will include interpersonal, organizational, gender and mass communication, among others.

OBJECTIVES:

Among other things, when you finish this course you will be able to:

ATTENDANCE:

Students are expected to get to every class. I will take attendance at every class and excessive missed classes will lower your final grade. (I define “excessive” as being in the bottom 10% -20% of the class in attendance.) Being in that group will most likely take you down one full letter grade. Missing classes will almost certainly affect your final grade also in that much of the material on the exams will come from class lectures and participations, in addition to the readings. Anyone with borderline scores at the end of the semester will benefit from a good attendance record, and vice versa.

If you expect to be absent, please notify me as soon as possible. Except in exceptional circumstances, I will not provide copies of my lecture slides.

Class work will generally be structured as follows:

REQUIRED MATERIALS:
A first Look at Communication Theory (10th edition) by Em Griffin
McGraw Hill, ISBN: 978-1-25991378-5- available at the bookstore

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GET AWAY WITH NOT BUYING THE TEXT. MOST OF THE INFORMATION WILL COME FROM YOUR READING AND LECTURES. IF YOU DON’T READ THE TEXT, IT WILL BE OBVIOUS TO ME WHEN I READ YOUR POSTS. I KNOW TEXTS ARE CRAZY EXPENSIVE BUT FOR THIS HYBRID COURSE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE ONE.

Using PLATO:

If you are new to online courses, you may need a brief tutorial. You can find it here:

http://www.westfield.ma.edu/plato/student-resources/students-getting-started/

The course will be divided into weeks, which you will see on the left side. Assignments will be in their corresponding weeks. For instance, instructions for and discussion groups about topics in week 5 will be in the Week 5 folder. if you have trouble with online access or other issues in PLATO, please contact CIT for assistance. I AM NOT the best resource to trouble-shoot the many different issues that can arise with different browsers, operating systems, etc. They are. They can be reached at:

CIT Plato Support: Student Login Issues Help Desk
413-572-8130

Or you can access the Help Desk here https://cit.westfield.ma.edu/support/

GRADING:
This is a hybrid course. That means that we meet one day a week in class, and have an online component in Plato.

Your online component is writing assignments due weekly (to be completed in Plato) which will contribute another (65%) to your grade. There are twelve of these weekly assignments, including one due during finals period.

There will be 5 random chapter reading quizzes designed to make sure that you read the chapter before you come to class. There are NO makeup quizzes. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped. They will be spread throughout the semester. The quizzes are (15%) of your grade.

A cumulative multiple-choice final exam will make up (20%) of your grade.

Remember, attendance counts. Be in class.

Writing assignment grading:

Initial post.

Each week, you will be given a new writing assignment to be completed in a discussion group in Plato. The assignments will be made on Tuesday and are due before noon on Thursday. Each assignment will list more specific requirements, but in general they will involve an assessment of one theory or a comparison of several similar theories in the same category (i.e., Cross Cultural Communication). The posting should be around 200-300 words long and make reference to facts from the text as well as your own experiences. Make sure you demonstrate a reading of the text in your writing. Spelling and grammar matter so, if you wish, write the post in a Word Processor and copy/paste it into the discussion. DO NOT post attachments or PDF files. Submissions must be text-based and readable in the discussion groups.

Observation post.

You will also comment on at least two or three other people's writing assignments. These comments should be thoughtful and supportive and don't have to be long - a few sentences is fine. Comments on others' writing are due between noon on Thursday and before midnight Friday. Barring exceptional and documented circumstances, late writing assignments will not be accepted and will be graded as zeros. If there are already 4 or more posts, choose another Initial post.

Response post.

Finally, if someone has written a response to your post, you should respond to at least one of those comments between midnight Friday and Sunday at midnight. (If no one has commented on your post, you are exempted from this requirement.)

Your week might look something like this:

Grading for writing assignments will be simple.

What to name your post: Anything relevant, but put your name in the subject of your original post.

GRADING STRUCTURE:

It is my view that students, in effect, grade themselves. That is, I will make every effort to assist you and give you all the information you need to succeed. However, the ultimate responsibility for success (or failure) is your own. Below you will find the Grading Structure.

Grading Structure
Score Letter Equivilant

97-100

A

93-96

A-

89-92

B+

85-88

B

81-84

B-

77-80

C+

73-76

C

69-72

C-

65-68

D+

61-64

D

57-60

D-

56 or below

F

If you are having trouble, please arrange to meet with me during office hours.  I will be happy to assist you in any way I can.  Anyone whose final grade is close to a borderline status between two letter grades will receive the benefit of the doubt (or vice versa) by a consideration of class attendance and participation records.  Again, it’s all up to you.

A NOTE ABOUT PLAGIARISM AND CHEATING:

Creating your own work is how you will get ahead your career, no matter what you choose to do. Using anyone else’s work; using a project that was submitted in another class; or having someone else write your assignment, are examples of plagiarism. I caught two students recently and followed procedure to sanction them both. In the real world, plagiarism is often simply called theft and will not be tolerated by companies who may be sued for having employees who steal. I know most people would never commit this crime. But you should know that plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated. Committing plagiarism also means you are not developing skills you will need in the marketplace. You can read more about what constitutes plagiarism here. http://catalog.westfield.ma.edu/content.php?catoid=8&navoid=356&hl=%22%26quot%3Bacademic+honesty%26quot%3B%22&returnto=search#Academic_Honesty_Policy

This policy may be updated this year so check for the latest version, if needed. If you have any doubts about whether something is considered plagiarism or not, please check with me.

CELL PHONES AND COURTESY:

I expect all cell phones to be turned off and not sitting in your desktop awaiting the next message. Messaging of any type in class is not allowed. It is considered rude, shows you don't care about the content of the class, and can have you ejected from the class. Don't let me tell you about this if I see a violation. I will work hard to embarrass you.

Respect other students. When someone is speaking or presenting, be quite and listen to them. They have the floor. They are not just speaking for my benefit. Always give others the respect you'd like to be shown. (See the Golden Rule.)

ONLINE RESOURCE:

All assignments and study guides will be available online on the Plato course site. 

CLASSES AND TOPICS:

The following Classes and Topics listing is subject to change as our/your interests and progress dictate. However, barring instructions to the contrary, reading assignments should be listed in advance of the day of lecture on that topic. We'll use the lectures, movies and current events as talking points, and I don't just call on people who raise their hands; so be prepared to discuss the material.

 

Classes and Topics

#

Date

Topic

Assigned Reading

1 1/21 Course introduction, review of syllabus  
  1/21-1/27    
2 1/28 Talk About Theory
Weighing the Words
Keirsey Personality Types assignment
Chap. 2
Chap. 3
  1/28-2/3    
3 2/4 Keirsey Personality Types Videos: Self-analysis using the online analyzer Interpersonal Messages
Symbolic Interactionism
Expectancy Violations Theory



Chap. 5
Chap. 7
  2/4-2/10   Online writing assignments #1:
Interpersonal Messages
4 2/11 Relationship Development
Social Penetration Theory
Uncertainty Reduction Theory

Chap. 8
Chap. 9
  2/11-2/17   Online writing assignments #2:
Relationship Development
  2/18 Monday schedule - no class meeting
 
  2/18-2/24 no writing requirement for this week  
5 2/25 Relationship Maintenance
Relational Dialectics
Communication Privacy Management

Chap. 11
Chap. 12
  2/25-3/2   Online writing assignments #3:
Relationship Maintenance
6 3/3 Influence
Social Judgment Theory
Elaboration Likelihood Model
Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Chap. 14
Chap. 15

Chap. 16
  3/3-3/9   Online writing assignments #4:
Influence
7 3/10 Spring break, no class meeting
 
  3/10-3/16 no writing requirement for this week  
8 3/17 no class due to pandemic

 

 

  3/17-2/23 no writing requirement for this week  
9 3/24 Group Communication
Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making
Chap. 17
  3/24-3/30   Online writing assignments #5: Group Communication
10 3/31 Public Rhetoric
The Rhetoric of Aristotle
Dramatism

Chap. 22
Chap. 23
  3/31-4/6   Online writing assignments #6:
Public Rhetoric
11 4/7 Media and Culture
Semiotics
Cultural Studies

Chap. 26
Chap. 27
  4/7-4/13  

Online writing assignments #7:
Media and Culture

12 4/14

Media Effects
Cultivation Theory
Agenda Setting Theory


Chap. 29
Chap. 30
  1/14-4/20   Online writing assignments #8:
Media Effects
13 4/21

Intercultural Communication
Communication Accommodation Theory
Face Negotiation Theory


Chap. 34
Chap. 35
  4/21-4/27   Online writing assignments #9:
Intercultural Communication
14 4/28 Gender and Communication
Genderlect Styles
Muted Group Theory
 
  4/28-5/4
Online writing assignments #10:
Gender and Communication
15 5/5 Final Exam  
  5/5-5/8 Final Initial post only, no Observation or Reponse posts required - ~500-750 words Online writing assignments #11:
Final Thoughts on Theory