Approved by Faculty Senate October 6, 2003

Per WSU Regulation 3-4 (“Departments are required to submit information to the USS specifying how [the] flagged course addresses the outcomes for each flag”), the following material addresses points 1-5 under the Writing Flag section of the 3/20/00 “University Studies at WSU” document with regard to USS approval of MCOM 400 Mass Communication Theory as a USS writing flag course.


1.      “...practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields.”


      This course is designed to emphasize the scientific research associated with Mass Communication theory and effects.  The research project and synopses of journal articles are aimed at creating an awareness of the procedures and practices utilized to report on academic and scientific research in the Mass Communication field.


2.      “...understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields.”


      The main features of research writing covered in this course include the content, structure and style of journal articles.  These include the development of a research question and associated hypotheses, the construction of a literature review, the reporting of the methodology utilized, the results of the research and the conclusion that can be drawn from the data.


3.   “...adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields.”


      Considerable time is spent in class and through feedback on assignments from the instructor on how the writing must be aimed at the academic reader of research reports.


4.   “...make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields.”


      Students are expected to develop a working knowledge of searching through both electronic databases and through more traditional sources of research journals.


5.   “...learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.”


      Students learn to compare research results and to provide the necessary documentation for research in Mass Communication.




MCOM 400 Mass Communication Theory


Spring 2002      Mon-Wed-Fri  10:00am – 10:50 am  PAC 224

Instructor:  Ron Elcombe  Office:   Phelps 113B

Phone:  457-5239     email:


COURSE DESCRIPTION:  In this course you will study the major theories of mass communication processes and the effects of mass mediated messages on our society.  You will also conduct a formal research project.


PREREQUISITE: MC 100 Media and Society, English 111


COURSE OBJECTIVES:   Students who successfully complete this course will:

1)      Understand the role of scientific research as the basis for the development of Mass Communication theories

2)      Understand the principle models that illustrate the transportation and processing of mass mediated messages

3)      Understand the theoretical and research foundations for the primary effects of Mass Communication messages


TEXT:  Fundamentals of Media Effects by Jennings Bryant and Susan Thompson, McGraw Hill: NY, 2002




Research Paper – 30% of the final grade


As indicated on the course schedule below, this research paper will be a major focus of our work throughout the semester.  You will begin work on the research paper during the second week of class with your topic proposal; in week four you’ll turn in your first literature review; in week five you’ll turn in your hypothesis; in week six literature review #2 is due, and so on throughout the semester until the due date for the final paper at the end of the semester.


Chapter Tests – 25% of final grade

Final Exam – 25% of final grade


Note: exams are essay exams.


Miscellaneous Assignments – 10% of final grade

Attendance and Participation – 10% of final grade



                        A = 94 – 100%

                        B = 83 – 93%

                        C = 70 – 82%

                        D = 60 – 69%

                        F = Less than 59%




MCOM 400 Mass Communication Theory fulfills the University Studies writing flag requirement.  Remember that you need 6 semester hours of writing flag courses in order to complete your University Studies requirements.  The research paper (30% of your grade) and the exams (total of 50% of your grade) all require significant writing and thus contribute to the writing flag requirements.


As mandated by the University Studies program, here are the writing flag objectives and the assignments that  fulfill them::


a.     Practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in [your] fields. (Topic Proposal, Methodology, Draft Research Paper)

b.     Understand the main features and uses of writing in [your] fields.  (Tests 1, 2,  3, Final Exam, Final Research Paper)

c.     Adapt [your] writing to the general expectations of readers in [your] fields. (Literature Review #1, #2.)

d.     Make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in [your] fields.  (Literature Review #1, #2.)

e.     Learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in [your] fields. (Tests 1, 2,  3, Final Exam, Draft Research Paper, Final Research Paper)



NOTE: Course content and scheduling is subject to change based on the needs of the class.  This syllabus is intended to be an outline of the class objectives and assignments.  It is subject to change depending upon the needs of the class.   Assignments may be added or deleted.


Attendance is expected in class.  Assignments will not be accepted nor make-up exams given after the last day of class.  Exams must be taken the day they are scheduled.  They may be made up only in instances of documented illness, family or personal emergency, or previously excused absence.  Points are deducted from the total for assignments handed in late.


If you have questions about anything relating to this course, please come talk to me.