CA516 Qual Meth of Comm Research

for S2P 2010

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Mission Statement: The mission of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Park University is to provide leadership and directions to Park University's graduate and professional programs to assure that they are specialized, scholarly, innovative, and designed to educate students to be creative, independent, and lifelong learners within the context of a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University's School of Graduate and Professional Studies will be an international leader in providing innovative graduate and professional educational opportunities to learners within a global society.


CA 516 Qual Meth of Comm Research


S2P 2010 DL


Cohn, Lora


Assistant Professor of Communication Arts


B.S. Ed. (Mass Communication) Truman State University
M.A. (Communication Studies) University of Kansas
Ph.D. (Communication Studies) University of Kansas

Office Location

9N Copley Hall

Office Hours

10-11 am MWF; 2-4 pm Monday; 1-4 pm Tuesday;  and by appointment

Daytime Phone

816-584-6311 (fax 816-741-4371)

Other Phone

816-741-8443 (calls between 9am and 9pm CST welcome)


Semester Dates

March 15- May 9

Class Time


Credit Hours



Lindlof, T. & Taylor, B. (2002). Qualitative communication research methods (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-2494-9
American Psychological Association (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

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Course Description:
CA 516 Qualitative Methods of Communication Research: A study of the processes used by social researchers to describe human communication. The class will emphasize ethnography, field research and interviewing for data gathering and analysis.

Educational Philosophy:
When I went to graduate school, we read books and articles, discussed them in class, and wrote papers. Through my teaching I have discovered that not everyone learns all they can in that type of system. I believe even graduate education must address different learning styles and intelligences. To that end, my class features activities, presentations, discussion, reflection, reading, and writing—I will try to balance activities meeting the needs of different learners with old graduate school standbys like reading and writing. I will grade based on a balance of participation, writing, and testing so that all students have a chance to succeed. 

I am guided by this quote from Ayn Rand: The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life - by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort-- Ayn Rand, "The Anti-Industrial Revolution"

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Examine the philosophical assumptions that inform the naturalistic/qualitative research methods used in the communication field.
  2. Identify the rationales for selecting naturalistic/qualitative research methods to study communication.
  3. List and explain the steps involved in the planning and designing of naturalistic/qualitative communication research.
  4. Compare the strengths and limitations of various qualitative methods.
  5. Describe strategies for recording and managing data and analyzing qualitative data.
  6. Design a study using naturalistic/qualitative methods.
  7. Use focus groups, interviewing, and observation in a simple research study.
  8. Assess the importance of the ethical considerations in naturalistic/qualitative research.
  9. Evaluate naturalistic/qualitative research studies.
  10. Compose a report of your study.
Class Assessment:
Course assessment: You will demonstrate that you have mastered the learner outcomes through: oral presentations, discussion, homework, examinations, and writing. 


Grading scale:
450-500 points = A; 400-449 points = B; 350-399 points = C; 300- 349 points D; below 300 points = failing
Points in class:  500 possible
Papers/Presentations 200 points
Method presentation 100 points
Article reviews 100 points

Participation/Homework 200 points
Activities worth 10 points each and discussions worth 10 points each.

Core Assessment 100 points
A prospectus including a literature review, well developed method section, and timeline.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
 I expect all course work to be done on time. If you know you will be absent during a particular class period, talk to me. Illness, sudden or otherwise, is no excuse for missing a due date. You must contact me and make arrangements before the due date.  All late work will be penalized 10%. All late work must be completed within two weeks of the original assignment unless special permission is granted. Work is considered late if it is not in my possession by midnight on the date due. Plan ahead and start early. It has been my experience that the night before an assignment is due, all the books in the library on the topic have been checked out and the computer systems will be down.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
 Writing: All work must be typed or word-processed. Make sure all written work has been proof read and spell checked. Spelling and grammatical errors hurt your credibility and reduce the possibility of effective communication. I believe that writing is a means to learning; that there is a correlation between reading and writing; and that writing helps one discover, clarify, examine, and synthesize information. Writing is, therefore, integral to this course and will be evaluated on its form as well as its content. All papers should be typed, double-spaced, left justified, and use a 10-12 pt font. Margins should be no larger than one inch. NOTE: While computers make writing easier, you must realize that technology can cause problems. Keep hard copies of papers you have submitted and save work in multiple places should we experience computer failure.

 The 24-hour Rule: Anytime you need to schedule an alternative day to turn in an assignment, you must contact me 24 hours prior to the assignment deadline you are trying to avoid. Additionally, if you are dissatisfied with a grade on an assignment, you must wait 24 hours to talk to me about it. There are no exceptions

Office Hours: Please feel free to come to my office, email, or call to discuss papers, presentations, and any problems you are having. If my office hours conflict with your schedule, we can arrange another time to meet.

Student/Teacher Responsibilities: As a graduate student you must accept responsibility for your own actions. Reading for class, preparing for tests, completing assignments on time, and contributing to class discussions are the major responsibilities I expect from you as your part of the learning process. My responsibility is to give you my best teaching effort, to create a positive learning climate, and to challenge you. It takes work from both of us to make this a worthwhile experience. Additionally, at times we will discuss controversial topics and have people who disagree with each other. You and I both must remember that while each of us has a right to our own opinion, we must respect the right of others to have differing opinions. Calling someone or some idea "stupid" creates a defensive communication climate and hampers the ability of all of us to learn. Think before you criticize.   If anyone in class makes a comment you are uncomfortable with, please contact me immediately and first. Apologies and policy changes are best handled in the classroom. Finally, come talk to me when you have questions, concerns, or suggestions about the class. It is less frustrating for both of us if you ask questions before the assignment is due, rather than after it has affected your performance. 
Study Time:  The academic rule of thumb is that for every hour you spend in class, spend a minimum of two and more likely three  hours preparing for that class.  Thus, because CA516 is a three credit hour class in the accelerated format, you should spend at least twelve hours preparing for class each week.  Putting in less time is your choice, but you need to understand that your course grade will reflect performance (not potential, not effort, not good intention). Accelerated classes take a lot out of everyone-- make it easy on yourself and avoid scheduling vacations during class. 

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:




Week one

Intro to course/qualitative methods
Justifying qualitative methods
Evaluating research

Lindlof & Taylor, Chaps. 1-2 Evaluation of research article
Study topic paper

Week two

Designing qualitative inquiry
Getting started

Lindlof & Taylor, Chaps. 3-4
Ethics paper
Researcher certification
Getting started on your research

Week three

Participant observation
Interviewing/Focus groups
Handling data

Lindlof & Taylor, Chaps. 5-6
Interviewing article review
Focus Group article review
Participant observation article review

Week four

Other methods:  case study research, document and artifact analysis, action research

Method presentations
Interview/focus group questions
Participant observation activity

Week five

Other methods: narrative analysis, conversation and discourse analysis, autoethnography and critical ethnography

Method presentations
Your methods
Interview transcription completed

Week six

Analysis and interpretation of data

Lindlof & Taylor, Chap. 7
Analysis activity
Article review—your topic

Week seven


Lindlof & Taylor, Chap. 9
Writing up the analysis activity
Prospectus draft due

Week eight

Wrapping up the semester

Peer Editing
Final Prospectus due


Academic Honesty:
As a learning community, the University upholds the highest standards of academic integrity in all its academic activities, by faculty, staff, administrators and students. Academic integrity involves much more than respecting intellectual property rights. It lies at the heart of learning, creativity, and the core values of the University. Those who learn, teach, write, publish, present, or exhibit creative works are advised to familiarize themselves with the requirements of academic integrity and make every effort to avoid possible offenses against it, knowingly or unknowingly. Park University 2009-2010 Graduate Catalog Page 31


Plagiarism involves the appropriation of another person's ideas, interpretation, words (even a few), data, statements, illustration or creative work and their presentation as one's own. An offense against plagiarism constitutes a serious academic misconduct.  Although offenses against academic integrity can manifest themselves in various ways, the most common forms of offenses are plagiarism and cheating. Plagiarism goes beyond the copying of an entire article. It may include, but is not limited to: copying a section of an article or a chapter from a book, reproduction of an art work, illustration, cartoon, photograph and the like and passing them off as one's own. Copying from the Internet is no less serious an offense than copying from a book or printed article, even when the material is not copyrighted.

Plagiarism also includes borrowing ideas and phrases from, or paraphrasing, someone else's work, published or unpublished, without acknowledging and documenting the source. Acknowledging and documenting the source of an idea or phrase, at the point where it is utilized, is necessary even when the idea or phrase is taken from a speech or conversation with another person.

Park University 2009-2010 Graduate Catalog Page 31-32

Attendance Policy:

Professors are required to maintain attendance records and report absences. Excused absences can be granted by the instructor, for medical reasons, school sponsored activities, and employment-related demands, including temporary duty. Students are responsible for any missed work. Absences for two successive weeks, without approved excuse, will be reported to the Director of the individual graduate program, or to the Executive Director for the Graduate School, for appropriate action. Students with such a record of absences, without an approved excuse, may be administratively withdrawn from the class and notified that an "F" will be recorded, unless the student initiates official withdrawal from the class(es).Park University 2009-2010 Graduate Catalog Page 35

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


This does not represent a contract.  I reserve the right to make alterations in the syllabus during the semester. This material is copyright and cannot be reused without author permission.

© Lora Cohn, 2009

Last Updated:3/8/2010 1:28:59 PM