CA516 Qual Meth of Comm Research

for S1P 2008

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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


S1P 2008 MC


Cohn, Lora


Assistant Professor of Communication


B.S. Ed. Mass Communication, Truman State
M.A. Communication Studies, KU
Ph.D. Communication Studies, KU

Office Location

9N Copley Hall

Office Hours

M 1-3pm; W 4:30-5:30 pm, Tu/Th 10-11:30 am, and by appointment

Daytime Phone

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

Other Phone



Semester Dates

Monday Jan. 14 through Sunday, March 9

Class Days


Class Time

5:30 - 9:50 PM

Credit Hours


Lindlof, T. & Taylor, B. (2002). Qualitative communication research methods (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-2494-9

Corbin, J. & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN 978-1-4129-0644-9.

American Psychological Association (2005). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. (ISBN 1557987912)

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
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. 3:0:3

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. Writing is the most visible product of graduate education and the ability to clearly communicate via writing is a key skill for graduate students. This course, therefore, will focus on writing skill. Discussion and debate helps refine and justify ideas as well as enhancing critical thinking and communication skills which are also key outcomes of graduate education. In this class, expect to defend your ideas and interpretations to develop these skills. 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. Identify different ways to determine categories for content analysis.
  5. Explain key concerns for those doing participant observation.
  6. Develop a set of questions for an interview.
  7. Develop a set of questions for a focus group.
  8. Compare the strengths and limitations of various qualitative methods.
  9. Describe strategies for recording and managing data for a variety of methods.
  10. Explain the different strategies for analyzing and interpreting qualitative data.
  11. Design a study using naturalistic/qualitative methods.
  12. Assess the importance of the ethical considerations in naturalistic/qualitative research.
  13. Explain how reliability and validity work in naturalistic/qualitative research.
  14. Evaluate naturalistic/qualitative research studies.
  15. Explain the research process.
Class Assessment:
You will demonstrate that you have mastered the learner outcomes through: discussion, homework, examinations, and writing. You will collect your work and turn in a portfolio of much of the original work for the core assessment of the class.

 500 points roughly divided into the following areas:

Method Presentation 100 points (roughly 20%)

 Participation/Homework 150 points (roughly 30%)
Weekly assignments worth 10 points each, discussions/activities worth 10 points each, article reviews worth 10 points each.

Core Assessment 150 points (roughly 50%)
Communicating Common Ground Project---Throughout the semester we will explore diversity in the Northland—the part of Kansas City and its suburbs that are north of the river. As a class, we will develop and carry out a research project that will analyze diversity through a minimum of interviews, focus groups, and observation. The final product will be a research report of the type published in communication journals. Students will work in groups of two to analyze the data and write the report.


Grading scale:

450-500 points = A; 400-449 points = B; 350-399 points = C; 300- 349 points D; below 300 points = failing

Late Submission of Course Materials:
I expect all course work to be done on time. If you know you will be out of computer contact for an extended period of time, please warn me. You must contact me and make arrangements to turn work in late--before the due date--- not after the due date.  All late work will be penalized 10%. All late work must be completed within one week of the original assignment unless special permission is granted. Work is considered late if it is not in my possession by midnight on Sunday. 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 is 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. Do not assume you can print the document off a disk two minutes before class. Bring copies of papers you have printed well in advance of the due date. It is wise to save work in multiple places and to keep paper copies as backups.


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. In case of sudden illness on a day a major assignment is due, you must contact me, or at least leave a message, BEFORE the class meets-- not the next class period. Be sure to have a doctor's note or receipt to substantiate your illness.

Class Cancellations: If class is canceled for any reason, the class period following the canceled class will cover the material that should have been covered on the canceled day. This means if we do not have class on the Monday on which you were supposed to give a presentation, be ready to give it the next Monday! There will be no exceptions. If class is cancelled, we will schedule a date to meet to replace the missed class.

Office Hours: Please feel free to come to my office 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. 

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:




Week one

Intro to course/qualitative methods

Justifying qualitative methods

Reading qualitative research

Evaluating research

Picking a method to present

The Communicating Common Ground project

Lindlof & Taylor, Chaps. 1-2

Corbin & Strauss, Chaps. 1-2, 14



Week two

Setting up your study

Doing the IRB application

Lindlof & Taylor, Chaps. 3-4

Corbin & Strauss, Chap. 7

Study topic paper due

Evaluating a research article Ethics paper due

Week three

Methods of research

Developing interviewing and focus group questions

Lindlof & Taylor, Chaps. 5, 6

Method presentations due

Developing your study

Week four

Focus groups

Corbin & Strauss, Chap. 3

Content analysis article review due

Interview and Focus group article reviews due

Participant observation article review due

Week five

Handling data

Lindlof & Taylor, pp. 209-232

Corbin & Strauss, Chaps. 4-6

Methods in your research due

Week six

Interpreting data

Lindlof & Taylor, pp. 232-246

Corbin & Strauss, Chaps. 8-12

Week seven


Lindlof & Taylor, Chap. 9

Corbin & Strauss, Chap. 13

Research proposal due, draft

Week eight

Wrapping up the semester

Research report due final,

Final exam

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2007-2008 Graduate Catalog Page 24-26


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 2007-2008 Graduate Catalog Page 24-26

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 in excess of four (4) class periods, in a 16-week semester (or 2, in an 8-week term) will be reported to the Director of the individual graduate program, or to the Dean, for appropriate action. Students with such a record of absences, without an approved excuse, may be administratively withdrawn from the class and notified by mail that an "F" will be recorded, unless the student initiates official withdrawal from the class(es).Park University 2007-2008 Graduate Catalog Page 28
Note: Graduate students do not miss class.  Anyone missing class for any reason should expect to do significant work to make up the learning experiences missed.

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: .


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Last Updated:1/13/2008 4:43:45 PM