Approved by Faculty Senate
University Studies Course Approval
Department or Program: Communication Studies
Course Number: 282
Semester Hours: 3
Frequency of Offering: Every Semester
Course Study: Introduction to Communication Studies
Catalogue Description: Provides an overview of the basic communication theories
to a number of communication contexts (including small groups, interpersonal,
This course moves beyond CMST 191 by emphasizing theories instead of skills. Offered every
This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2: Yes
This is a new course proposal: No
University Studies Approval is requested in: The Arts and Sciences Core: Social
As required in points 1 and 2 of the approval process the following address the seven
listed for Social Science courses and documents course content and learning activities
to the course outcomes.
a. Understand humans as individuals and parts of larger social systems.
Communication Studies as a discipline is grounded, but is not limited to the study of
as a symbolic, social, and negotiated process. We also recognize and study how the
process is impacted by the message construction of individuals and the negotiated shared
meanings interlocutors realize through their social interaction while recognizing the
influence of the context in which
the communication occurs.
Our discipline recognizes that human interaction does not occur in a vacuum. One tenet
of our field is
that human communication is not retrievable, has consequences and is significantly
larger social systems. Communication Studies addresses the understanding of individual
interaction as a component of the larger social context or system from which we operate.
social influence from perspectives such as; reduction of uncertainty, organizational
symbolic convergence, expectancy violation, interpersonal deception, relational
adaptation, face negotiation and anxiety/uncertainty management among others.
Specific course outcomes: Students demonstrate understanding of humans as
members of a larger social system through tests and an APA style research paper examining
quizzes, tests, class exercises and lecture.
b. understand the historical context of the social sciences
a. The field of communication has a rich intellectual history. Our roots range from the
Plato and Aristotle to significant research conducted immediately after World War I.
technologies and literacy made the study of human communication significant and a means to
advance society and evoke social change. Intense interests in human communication
following yet another World War as our disciplines research grew exponentially. The
in our courses include but are not limited to message influence, communication
communication education strategies, public communication and persuasion, and interpersonal
relational development. From these rich experiences current topics that are covered in our
discipline include but are not limited to communication competence, relational maintenance
strategies, conflict management, teacher student affinity, functionalistic group
and intercultural face-saving communication strategies. It is clear that understanding the
evolution of the social sciences contributes to the increasing importance and strength of
the field of communication.
As Littlejohn (1992) concluded, "The study of human communication is a social
science. It involves understanding how people behave in creating, exchanging and
interpreting messages." p. 10.
Specific Course outcome: The students come to understand the historical context of
science through lectures, quizzes, tests, and group activities aimed at educating students
the historical grounding and basic understanding of different types of research
c. identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their
The study of Communication Studies necessitates the understanding of a multitude of
order to have any significant impact on ones communication competence. Communication
has demonstrated that without a theoretical knowledge base sequential effectual skills
negligible. For example, before a student considers impact of disability disclosure by a
a visible disability, they should ask what is the intention of the message? By
understanding Uncertainty Reduction Theory, Privacy Boundaries Theorette , or Predicted
Outcomes Values Theory the student
would better be able to form a research question that gets at the motivation for the
message construction. Armed with this knowledge the student could more effectively answer
whether the disclosure was
created with the purpose of reducing uncertainty, managing interpersonal privacy
perhaps influenced by the predicted outcome value.
In sum, we help students recognize that research questions include identifiable
variables to improve
the construction of their investigation and eventual understanding of human communication.
Specific course outcome: Besides lectures, class-discussion, quizzes, and tests
expected to understand communication problems by reading communication research journals
and to construct a research question that has identifiable variables. These variables are
developed in a 3-5 page paper that is geared toward their research question.
d. become familiar with the process of theory building and theoretical frameworks
used by the social sciences
Typically this course presents the functions of theory and the process of theory
examining several theoretical perspectives including; traits approaches, persuasion
verbal approaches, and nonverbal approaches to understanding human communication. They
are presented in the contexts of interpersonal, group, organizational, intercultural, and
Theory building is based on knowing the four functions of theory, which are, 1) to
experience, 2) extend knowledge, 3) stimulate further research and 4) serve an
function. This course contributes to the students understanding of theory building
them examine theory development and consider how theories are tested and improved. Their
understanding is enhanced by developing an understanding of what are the desirable
for comparing and contrasting theories. We believe this contributes to the students
evaluate what constitutes good communication theory.
Specific course outcome: In this course students are exposed to the four functions
criteria for testing theory, and the basic components of theory building through class
lecture, readings in communication based research journals, quizzes, tests and their
e. understand the research methods used in social sciences
Several research methods are introduced in this course including; experimental, survey
questionnaire, interview, textual analysis, and ethnography. Methodological discussion is
presented concurrently with the particular theory, and the strengths and the weaknesses o
each research methodology is also covered. Basic statistical analysis along with the
of variables, definitions, hypothesis, research questions and sampling are examined.
Specific course outcome: Students are evaluated regarding this material on quizzes,
and their research paper.
f. describe discipline specific knowledge and its applications
The core of the discipline of communication studies is to focus on the intentional
process of generating and attributing shared meaning. From that point this course examines
several specific knowledge areas including but not limited to; communication trait
style influences, constructionism, message design logics, language and power,
styles, intention and violation of nonverbal behavior.
In addition, depending on the expertise of the instructor, health communication,
communication, computer mediated communication, political communication, marriage
couple typologies, argumentative skill deficiency may be covered in the course. For
on the 10th anniversary of the passage of the ADA law the instructor might allocate time
discuss communication strategies for persons with disabilities in regard to relationship
development, or in the pursuit of employment. Or another expert might examine the three l
levels of uncertainty a patient experiences when visiting their physician, and explain why
effective medical treatment is directly correlated to the effectiveness of the
competence of both the care provider and the recipient of the care. In our discipline the
communication theorists primary mission is to conduct research and build basic
that can be tested in applied natural settings.
Specific course outcomes: In this class attention is paid to the students
theory. By this we encourage students to examine several theories, but to focus on a core
set of theories that are of special interest or are most applicable to their lives. We
that students specific theory knowledge is best understood when applying theory to
lives and future careers. To do this we strongly encourage the students to develop a
research question that encourages them to how this knowledge might be applied to their
future careers. The end result we hope is a paper that examines communication theory,
research methodology and applicability of the theory. Questions regarding this connection
are also asked in quizzes, exams and throughout class discussion.