CA382 Communication Research Methods

for FA 2010

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Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


CA 382 Communication Research Methods


FA 2010 HO


Cohn, Lora


Assistant Professor of Communication Arts


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

Office Location

9N Copley

Office Hours

9:30-11:30 am W; 2-5pm T; 1:30-3pm M; 4:15-5pm MW; 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

Aug. 16-Dec. 3

Class Days


Class Time

3:00 - 4:15 PM

Credit Hours


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:
CA382 Communication Research Methods - This course focuses on the most frequently used communicationresearch methods in the areas of journalism, communication studies, and public relations. Students will be introduced to the qualitative and quantitative communication ressearch methods including content analysis, participant observation, interviewing, textual analysis and experimental research.It will emphasize understanding communication research reports and developing research and writing skills appropriate for both communication professionals and students seeking advanced degrees. The coursemay utilize service learning. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
When I went to college, 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 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 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. Evaluate the ethical issues involved in a research proposal.
  2. Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative research questions, methods, and reports.
  3. Develop a research proposal appropriate to their major.
  4. Collect, analyze, and interpret data using multiple methods.
  5. Write effective research questions/hypotheses.
  6. Select the method best suited to research methods/goals.
  7. Write an effective research report in formats appropriate to their major.
  8. Evaluate communication research in terms of validity and reliability.
  9. Apply appropriate statistical tests to specific communication research questions.
  10. Evaluate how service learning has affected their understanding of communication, communication research, and their community.
  11. Effectively uses APA style.
  12. Demonstrates library research ability.
Class Assessment:
You will be graded on a variety of activities, including papers, projects, drafts, and peer editing.
1000 points possible in the class.
900-1,000 points = A; 800-899 points = B; 700-699 points = C; 600- 699 points D; below 500 points = failing


Journal article summaries: 8 total summaries at 25 points each for total of 200 points.

Summarize journal article reporting on 1) survey research, 2) content analysis 3) experimental research, 4) focus groups, 5) interviews, 6) participant observation, 7) rhetorical criticism and 8) either critical studies or conversation and discourse analysis--- minimum one page long (two is better).

Community Project: 100 points for steps in process, 200 points for individual final project
  • Includes survey, focus groups, and interviews,
  • Involves community
  • Product per person--- turn findings of research into something—series of press releases, white papers, teaching unit for school, training program for business, etc.

Prospectus for Senior Project: 100 points for drafts; 200 points for final

  • Literature review
  • Justify problem
  • Method/data gathering description
  • Method/data analysis description
  • Timeline for completion

Participation: (200 points) which can include:

  • Exams
  • Additional article summaries
  • SPSS practice
  • Readings
  • Reports to the class

Late Submission of Course Materials:
I expect all course work to be done on time. If you know you will be absent a particular class period, come 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. Roommates and spouses can call even if you have a sore throat and are unable to. 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 5:30pm 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:

 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.

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.

Student/Teacher Responsibilities: As a 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:

Oct. 18

Content analysis

M&H Chapt. 9

Oct. 20

Ethnographic research

M&H Chapt. 13

Rough draft lit review due

Peer edit in class

Oct. 25


Article review


Oct. 27

Focus groups

Article review

(focus groups)

Community project interview schedule developed

Nov. 1

Participant observation/observation

Article review


Community project focus group schedule developed

Nov. 3

Statistics—descriptive stats and hypothesis testing

M&H Chapt. 10

Revised literature review due—SR Project

Nov. 8

Statistics—inferential statistics

M&H Chapt. 11

Method section draft due—SR Project

Nov. 10

Stats practice

Nov. 15

Community project work day

Timeline due—SR project

Nov. 17

Community project work day

Nov. 22

Review statistics

Revised SR project due

Nov. 24

Community project survey analysis complete

Nov. 29

Community project focus group analysis complete

Dec. 1

Critical Studies

M&H Chapt. 15

Draft of community project due

Monday, Dec. 6 3:15-5:15

Present SR projects

Present Community Project

Final drafts SR project and Community project


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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

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:10/18/2010 1:29:46 PM