Course Outline

Unit reading assignment responses should be completed (400 word minimum) and turned in, via email (, by the beginning of class. In-class exercises will be held periodically. In-class exercises count towards participation. Failure to complete in-class exercises will result in “0” credit.

Midterm and Final essay due by midnight US EST/EDT on the date scheduled below. Submit as attachment (Microsoft Word, or Rich Text Format) to me by email at: Follow Essay Grading Criteria.

Unit Quizzes are due on the date scheduled below, US EST/EDT via D2L. You will have a 24 hour window to access the Quizzes, starting at midnight the day before the quiz is due. Quizzes are timed (1 hour). Access Quizzes via the Assessment line in D2L.

Week 1 (08/18 & 20)
Chapter 1: Introduction(s)

Students familiarize themselves with course web site, textbooks and requirements. Introduction to communication and history. A look into human communication, definitions, models (particularly the “transactional model”), and career opportunities.

In-class discussion:

  • Discuss “communication.” What does each of the three communication models listed in Chapter One highlight and obscure? Which model best describes and explains communication in your class?

Homework (due via email attachment before class on 08/20):

  • Read Chapter 2.
  • Discuss in writing Ch. 2, Reflect, Discuss, Apply, question #1.

Week 2 (08/25 & 27)
Chapter 2: Careers, Foundations, History

Lecture, discussion, exercises about the early history and foundations of communication studies and the possible career opportunities in the field.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 09/01:

  • Read Chapter 3
  • Discuss in writing Ch. 3, Reflect, Discuss, Apply, question #2.

Week 3 (09/01 & 03)
Chapter 3: Perceiving and Understanding

Discuss perception: selecting, organizing, and interpreting experiences. What we selectively notice affects how we organize and interpret the phenomenon and what we notice in the world around us. Skillful perceiving enhances communication. Four guidelines for enhancing your skills in perceiving: avoid mind reading, check perceptions, distinguish facts from inferences, monitor self-serving bias.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 09/10:

  • Read Chapter 4
  • To appreciate the importance of symbolic capacities, imagine the following: living only in the present without memories or hopes and plans; thinking only in terms of literal reality, not what might be; and having no broad classifications to organize experience. Discuss in writing how your life would be different without the symbolic abilities discussed in Chapter 4.

Week 4 (09/09 & 10)
Chapter 4: Engaging in Verbal Communication

The power of verbal communication. Verbal symbols: arbitrary, ambiguous, and abstract—words do not have objective concrete meanings. To create meaning, we follow rules of communication. Punctuate beginnings and endings of interactions. By defining, evaluating and classifying phenomena, language allows us to order our experiences and feelings, to think hypothetically, self-reflect, and define relationships and interactions. We increase the effectiveness of our verbal communication when we strive for accuracy and clarity in language, own our thoughts and feelings, and qualify language appropriately.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 09/15:

  • Read Chapter 5
  • Describe the spatial arrangement in the home of your family of origin. Was there a room in which family members interacted a good deal? How was furniture arranged in that room? Who had separate space and personal chairs in your family? What do the nonverbal patterns reflect about your family’s communication style? Answer/discuss in writing.
    Quiz 1: Chapter 1-4 (due 09/14 by 11:59 pm)

Week 5 (09/15 & 17)
Chapter 5 : Engaging in Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is symbolic and functions to supplement or replace verbal messages, regulate interaction, reflect and establish relationship-level meaning, and express cultural membership. Types of nonverbal communication reflects cultural rules and expresses our personal identities and feelings toward others. Effectiveness requires that we learn to monitor our nonverbal communication and to exercise caution in interpreting that of others.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 09/22:

  • Read Chapter 6
  • Discuss in writing Ch. 6, For Further Reflection and Discussion, #2.

Week 6 (09/22 & 24)
Chapter 6: Listening and Responding to Others

The demanding and complex process of listening. Hearing: a straight-forward physiological process that doesn’t take effort on our part. Listening, in contrast, is a complicated process involving being mindful, hearing, selecting and organizing, interpreting, responding, and remembering. Message overload, complexity of material, and external noise are external obstacles to listening. Also, our pre-occupation and prejudgments, lack of effort, and not recognizing differences in listening styles can hamper listening. What are the purposes for listening. What are the skills and attitudes that advance each purpose.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 09/29.

Week 7 (09/29 & 10/1)
Chapter 7: Creating and Sustaining Communication Climates

A basic requirement for healthy communication climate is confirmation. Each of us wants to feel valued. Communication that fosters supportive climates also helps us manage conflict constructively. Lose-lose, win-lose, win-win approaches to conflict. People respond by exiting, neglecting, being loyal, or giving voice to tensions. Voice is the preferred response: allows people to deal with conflict actively and constructively. Five guidelines for building healthy communication climates.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 10/06:

  • Read Chapter 8
  • Discuss the tension between recognizing individuality and noting patterns common in specific social groups. Is it possible to recognize both that people have standpoints in social groups and that members of any group vary? You might recall the concept of totalizing from Chapter 4 to assist your consideration of this issue. Answer/discuss in writing.

Week 8 (10/06 & 08)
Chapter 8: Adapting Communication to Cultural Contexts

Communication exists within and is influenced by multiple contexts, like social communities and cultures. Five principles summarize the relationships between culture and communication: learning culture; primary indicator that culture exists (multiple social communities may co-exist within a single culture, and people may belong to multiple cultures and social communities); communication both reflects and sustains cultures; communication is a potent force for changing cultural life. Four guidelines for communicating effectively in a socially diverse world.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 10/13:

  • Read Chapter 9 and discuss in class society’s views (the generalized other) of women and men. What are current social expectations for each sex? What behaviors, appearances, and attitudes violate social prescriptions for gender. Do you agree or disagree with these social expectations.
  • Quiz 2, Chapters 5, 6, 7 & 8 (due on 10/13 by 11:59 pm)

Week 9 (10/13 & 15)
Chapter 9: Communication and Self-Concept

Self as a process that evolves over the course of our lives. Reflected appraisals, direct definitions, and social comparisons further shape how we see ourselves and how we change over time. The basic communication processes foster a healthy society and personal growth. Communication for fostering personal growth.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 10/20:

  • Read Chapter 10
  • Discuss in writing Ch. 10, For Further Reflection and Discussion, question #1.

Week 10 (10/20 & 22)
Chapter 10: Interaction With Friends and Romantic Partners

Communications in personal relationships are defined by commitment, uniqueness, relationship dialectics, relationship rules, and interaction with surrounding contexts. Communication is a primary dynamic in intimacy, influencing how we meet and get to know others. Four important challenges that friends and romantic partners face today.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 10/27:

  • Read and be ready to discuss in class Chapter 11
  • Discuss, in writing, Ch. 11, For Further Reflection and Discussion, question #2.

Week 11 (10/27 & 29)
Chapter 11: Communicating on Groups and Teams

Small groups defined. Group members must recognize and manage the potential weaknesses of group discussion, notably conformity pressures and time, to realize the important advantages of group decision making. Task teams produce creative, high-quality decisions and securing members’ commitment. Factors that influence communication in task groups and teams include: cohesion, size, power, norms, and interaction patterns.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 11/03):

  • Rules for Brainstorming
  • Read and be ready to discuss Chapter 12
  • Choose three organizational home pages (e.g.,;;;; Describe the organization’s vocabulary stories, rites and rituals, and structures. What does each of these tell you about the organization’s culture?

Week 12 (11/03 & 05)
Chapter 12: Communication in Organizations

Importance of daily performances in upholding an organization’s identity and a shared set of meanings for members of the organization. Organizations, like other contexts of communication, involve a number of challenges: to develop a large repertoire of communication skills so that you can adapt effectively to diverse people, situations, and needs in the workplace; become effective in teamwork; manage personal relationships in the workplace.

Homework due via email attachment before class on 11/10:

  • Read and be ready to discuss Chapter 13
  • Discuss in writing Ch. 13, For Further Reflection and Discussion, question #1.
  • Quiz 3 – Chapters 9, 10, 11 & 12 (due by 11:59 pm on 11/09)

Week 13 (11/10 & 12)
Chapter 13: Public Communication

To what extent do ordinary people engage in public speaking? How do speakers earn credibility? How do credible speakers organize and support their ideas? How many people experience speaking anxiety? How can you listen more critically to public communication?

Homework due via email attachment before class on 11/17:

  • Read and be ready to discuss Chapter 14
  • Discuss in writing Ch. 14, For Further Reflection and Discussion, question #1.

Week 14 (11/17 & 19)
Chapter 14: Mass Communication

Media epochs. Five views of the functions and effects of mass communication. Media literacy. Active voice responding to mass communication. Speaking out to make a difference. Power relationships and social perspectives are always open to change and negotiations between voices that offer rival views of reality. Without our consent and support, mass communication cannot exist.


  • Quiz 4, Chapters 13 – 15 (due by 11:59 p.m. on 11/23)
  • Work on Final Essay (due by 11:59 p.m.12/06). Grading Criteria.
    You can also use the movies I have listed for the Midterm, if you prefer. A good place to get these films, most of them instant streamed for $2.99, is

Week 15 – 16 (11/24 – 12/03) Thanksgiving Break and Work on Final Research Essay.

  • Homework:
    Final Essay, due in on Sunday, 12/06, by midnight. Email to