Communication and Media Studies 230

COMS 230: Communication Theory

Credit Hours: (3) Three hours lecture/discussion

A survey of communication theories in a variety of contexts.  Includes study of interpersonal, group, persuasive, organizational, rhetorical, mass media, and intercultural theory.  This is a core course required of all students majoring in the School of Communication.

Contemporary theories and practices in oral communication; examines wide range of behaviorally oriented theories and studies of oral communication. Speaking (sending) and listening (receiving) emphasized.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course is an overview of the field of communication as a social science. It begins by briefly outlining the history and development of the field and distinguishes social scientific study of communication from humanistic approaches. It then proceeds to highlight methods of inquiry from which theories emerge. Included in this discussion is the identification of metatheoretical issues such as epistemology, ontology and other often unstated assumptions made by the theorist. With the above as a foundation, the bulk of the semester focuses on exposing the student to a wide variety of communication theories. An attempt is made to include theories from a variety of contexts; intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, public speaking, mass communication, etc. Theories discussed are significant because of their historical value in shaping the field, their present value in generating research or insights into human communication or their value in illustrating where the field may be headed as it continues to explore human communication. Examples of theories which could be covered include: Mediational Theory of Meaning (Osgood), Symbolic Interactionism (Mead), Social Penetration Theory (Altman and Taylor), etc.


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

The course includes lecture/discussions, group work, outside reading/research, and peer presentations. There are also numerous exercises graded only in the aggregate that encourage personal application of the material being covered.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

At the end of this course students should be able to:

1. have a basic understanding of the history and evolution of the field of communication
2. identify a wide variety of theories within the field and associate them with the appropriate theorist
3. apply these theories to "real life" situations when appropriate
4. present their own opinions, reactions, and theoretical concepts in a clear, confident manner


Assessment Measures

Students' mastery of the course objectives will be assessed as follows:

1. A mid-term and final exam will be used to assess student understanding of various theories covered in the course.
2. A group project will be used to assess students' ability to express their understanding of a particular theory and how it applies to their world.
3. A reaction paper to an outside reading will be used to assess students' ability to express their own opinions and reactions to theoretical concepts.
4. Ungraded writing assignments will be used to assess students' abilities to understand and react to theories and apply theories to "real life" situations.


Other Course Information

Occasional use of video equipment may be encouraged (recorder and playback), depending on nature of lecture material or group presentations by students.


Review and Approval

September, 2001 Bill Kennan, Chair