CA348 Theories of Communication

for FA 2012

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CA 348 Theories of Communication


FA 2012 HO


Cohn, Lora


Associate 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

211 Copley Hall

Office Hours

M/W/F 10-11am; M/W 2:00-300; T 2-5pm; and by appointment

Daytime Phone

816-584-6311 (fax 816-505-5454)

Other Phone

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


Semester Dates

Aug. 20- Dec. 14

Class Days


Class Time

11:00 - 11:50 AM

Credit Hours



Dainton, M. & Zelley, E. (2011).  Applying communication theory for professional life: A practical introduction (2nd ed.).  Los Angeles, CA: Sage. ISBN 9781412976916
American Psychological Association (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).  Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. (ISBN 978-1-4338-0562-2)

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:
CA348 Theories of Communication - The study of communication theories with emphasis on peoples interactions with the media and one another. The course focuses on how communication affects human attitudes and behavior. Includes a review of media influence in the individual, social and political arenas. 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.  Writing is the most visible product of education and the ability to clearly communicate via writing is a key skill for students.  This course, therefore, will emphasize writing along with speaking.  Discussion and debate helps refine and justify ideas as well as enhancing critical thinking and communication skills which are key outcomes of liberal education.  In this class, expect to defend your ideas and interpretations to develop these skills.   

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. Explain the basic elements of a theory.
  2. Evaluate theories based on the standards developed in class.
  3. Contrast the seven traditions of communication theory.
  4. Identify, explain, and give a real-world example of the key theories from the following communication contexts/areas of study: intrapersonal communication, interpersonal communication, group communication, organizational communication, intercultural communication, mass communication, persuasion, and leadership.
  5. Demonstrate ability to use library resources for research.
  6. Synthesize information from a variety of sources.
  7. Demonstrate correct APA style.
  8. Write an organized, insightful, literature review .
  9. Demonstrate the ability to use PowerPoint or Demo Builder to create effective presentations.
  10. Translate theoretical research into layperson terms
Class Assessment:

Core Assessment: Literature review and application. Write a 10-15 page review of the literature on a theory. Organizational Communication students include an “application” section discussing how you can use this theory to improve your communication in organizations. Journalism students include an “application” section discussing how this theory applies to life as a journalist. PR students include an “application” section discussing how this theory applies to public relations. Topic selection, source lists,  and drafts will be worth 100 points; final draft worth 150 points.

Article reviews: Write a summary of a journal article to develop an understanding of how communication theorists communicate. Write a summary of an article that develops a theory presented in class—do this for at least two different chapters of the text. Summaries should be two pages. 20 points per summary (total of 60 points)

Translation papers—Take a communication journal article that relates to one of the theories discussed in class and write an article for newsletter or newspaper or a brief broadcast report translating the theory into layperson’s terms for a general audience. Do this five times. Articles/reports should be two pages. 20 points per report (total of 100 points)

International leadership case study-- As a group, select an international leader and develop a two-page case study and 7 questions linking communication theory to the leader’s efforts (cultural, media, organizational, persuasion, or leadership). 100 points

Theory presentation: As a group, select a theory and develop a 10-minute presentation, based on published reports of incidents in organizations, illustrating how it applies in the workplace--include at least two settings/incidents (PR/Journalism/Broadcasting/Organizational/Non-profit, etc.). The presentation should be PowerPoint based.Your group will  present and allow at least five minutes for questions.  250 points

Participation—Fourteen times in the semester, you will receive points for participating in class activities. 140 points.

Theory exam—100 points.


Grading scale
900-1000 A
800-899 B
700-799 C
600-699 D
below 600 F

Late Submission of Course Materials:
All course work is expected to be done on time. If you know you will be absent a particular class period, come talk to me and you will be allowed to complete non-discussion class work prior to that absence. Illness, sudden or otherwise, is no excuse for missing a due date. You must contact me and make arrangements before the due date-- at least leave a note before class. Roommates, spouses, or parents can call even if you have a sore throat and are unable to talk--- better yet, come to class, I'll actually believe you then. A doctor's note, hospital bill, or funeral program will be required to avoid a lateness penalty for any assignment. For unexpected absences, you can complete non-discussion class work later but late work will be penalized 10%. Additionally, my personal policy on late speeches is that they will be made up at my discretion and will be penalized two letter grades. If you have a good excuse you can avoid the two-letter grade penalty if you complete a five-page paper analyzing a recorded speech. All late work must be completed within two weeks of the original due date unless special permission is granted. It's best to plan ahead and start early. It's 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 library computer system will be down.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

1. Attendance: In speech communication classes, regular attendance is a necessity if the student expects to master the course content. Participation in class exercises, listening, contributing to discussion, and analyzing the communication efforts of other students are primary means of learning. Good attendance is a vital ingredient of success in any speech class. Absence from class has a direct bearing on performance quality and final grade. Absence on the day of a participation activity means you will not receive points for that activity. Further, when you are absent it is your responsibility to get the assignments and notes you missed. It is not the responsibility of the instructor to see that you are caught up.  Absences on days when speech sign-up sheets are available may result in the instructor randomly assigning your speech presentation date--OFTEN ON THE FIRST DAY SPEECHES ARE GIVEN. For some reason those time slots are always available. If you anticipate missing a number of classes because you will be attending college-related functions or religious holidays, please provide me with a list of the days you will be absent at least a week prior to the absences.

2. Writing in the Communication Program:  All work must be typed or word-processed. This instructor believes 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 any course and should be evaluated on its form as well as its content. In the Communication Program, students will be required to write and be evaluated from reaction papers, final reports, self-evaluations, written exams, journals, speech outlines, peer critiques, etc. Students are encouraged to use the services of the Writing Center to improve their writing.

 3. Group Work: Often during the semester we will be working in groups. Get your group's phone numbers and call them when you are absent to get notes, assignments, etc. When an activity or assignment is designated as a group activity, collaboration is expected. When an activity is not specifically designated as a group activity you are to be the only individual to work on that assignment. If you collaborate on an activity not designated as a group activity and there is enough evidence of that collaboration to catch my attention you and your collaborators will receive a 0 for that assignment. I will neither ask for, nor accept, any explanations.

 4. 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.

5. 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 your speech, be ready to give it on Wednesday! There will be no exceptions.

6. 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.

 7. Extra Credit: At various times during the semester, extra credit opportunities will be given. You must have at least a C grade at the time the extra credit is recorded to be able to attempt the extra credit assignment. No extra credit will be allowed during the last two weeks of class.

Student/Teacher Responsibilities

As a college 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.   Additionally, if I or a classmate make a comment you are uncomfortable with, please contact me immediately and first. Apologies and policy changes are best handled in the classroom not the administrative offices. 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 1

Aug. 20

Intro to the course

Aug. 22

What is theory?

Chap. 1

Aug. 24

What is theory, cont.

Week 2

Aug. 27

How is theory developed?

Chap. 2

Aug. 29

Reading journals


Aug. 31

Translating theory


Article Review

Week 3

Sept. 5

Cognitive and Intrapersonal theory

Chap. 3, Handout

Sept. 7

Cognitive and Intrapersonal theory, cont.

Week 4

Sept. 10

Cognitive and Intrapersonal theory, cont.

Sept. 12

Cognitive and Intrapersonal theory, cont.

Lit review topic due

Sept. 14

Interpersonal theory

Chap. 4

Week 5

Sept. 17

Interpersonal theory, cont.

Sept. 19

Interpersonal theory, cont.

Sept. 21

Cultural theory, cont.

Chap. 10

Week 6

Sept. 24

Cultural theory, cont.

Sept. 26

Cultural theory, cont.

Sept. 28

Cultural theory, cont.


Week 7

Oct. 1

Cultural theory, cont.

Article review 2 due

Oct. 3

Group theory

Chap. 5

Oct. 5

Group theory, cont.

Lit review source list due

Week 8

Oct. 8

Group theory, cont.

Translation paper 1 due

Oct. 10

Group theory, cont.

Oct. 12

Organizational theory

Chap. 6, Handout
Lit review grid due

Fall Break

Oct. 15-19

Week 9

Oct. 22

Organizational theory, cont.

Translation paper 2 due


Oct. 24

Organizational theory, cont.


Oct. 26

Organizational theory, cont.

Lit review rough draft due

Week 10



Chap. 8


Leadership, cont.


Nov. 2

Leadership, cont.

Translation paper 3 due

Week 11

Nov. 5

Leadership, cont.


Nov. 7


Chap. 7

Nov. 9

Persuasion, cont

Translation paper 4 due

Week 12

Nov. 14

Persuasion, cont.


Nov. 16

Persuasion, cont


Week 13

Nov. 19

International leadership case studies

International leadership  case study due

Nov. 21

Persuasion/leadership wrap up


Week 14

Nov. 26

Media theory

Chap. 9, handout

Nov. 28

Media theory, cont.

Translation paper 5 due

Nov. 30

Media theory, cont.

Article review 3 due

Week 15

Dec. 3

Media theory, cont.


Dec. 5

Group theory reports

Group theory report due

Dec. 7

Wrap up

Chap. 11
Final draft lit review due

Week 16

Dec. 12

Final Exam 10:15-12:15 am

Theory 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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98

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:9/25/2012 12:27:51 PM