CA382 Communication Research Methods

for SP 2013

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Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


CA 382 Communication Research Methods


SP 2013 HO


Cohn, Lora


Associate professor of Communication


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

Office Hours

M/W 11am-noon; M/W/Th 2-3 pm; T 4-5 pm; Th 9-11 am; 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

Jan 14 through May 8

Class Days


Class Time

9:00 - 9:50 AM

Credit Hours


Treadwell, D. (2011).  Introducing Communication Research: Paths of Inquiry.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISN 9781412944571

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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 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 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. 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 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. Explain how the research process reflects the scientific method.
  2. Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative research paradigms, questions, methods, and reports
  3. Write effective research questions/hypotheses.
  4. Collect, analyze, and interpret data using multiple methods.
  5. Apply appropriate statistical tests to specific communication research questions/data
  6. Evaluate the ethical issues involved in a research proposal
  7. Effectively use APA style.
  8. Demonstrate library research skills.
  9. Develop a research proposal appropriate to their major
  10. Select the method best suited to their research question/goals.
  11. Discuss research findings in formats appropriate to their major.
  12. Evaluate communication research.
  13. 13. Identify differences between American and international research on communication.
Class Assessment:
I will grade based on group work, individual work, article reviews/translation papers, and the final prospectus.

500 points

Breakdown of assignments:
2 group projects     (200 points)

Group project 1 –100 points (survey research) Develop a survey for an organization, gather data, analyze it and present it to the organization.

Group project 2—100 points (focus group research) Develop questions for two focus groups for an organization, hold the focus groups, analyze the data and present it to the organization.

Individual project   (100 points)  Develop a prospectus for a research study.

Participation           (100 points)
   In-class work plus Experiment write up (30 points)

Article Reviews       (100 points)  Summarize journal articles using each method

 Judging paper (100 points)  Judge 2 rounds of debate or individual events at area high schools and develop a research study based on that experience.
540-600 points = A; 480-539 points = B; 420-479 points = C; 360- 419 points D; below 360 points = failing

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 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:

 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 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:






Jan. 14

Intro to course



Jan. 16

The assignments



Jan. 18

Intro to research methods

Chapter s 1 and 2


Jan. 23


Individual project topic due


Jan. 25

Group project 1—survey research

Individual project assignment



Jan. 28

Finding prior research

Chapter 4


Jan. 30

Reading research

12-step form due


Feb. 1

Library day



Feb.  4

Article discussion

12-step form due


Feb. 6

Basics of Quantitative research

Chapter 5;
Sources list –individual project due;
Sources list –group project due;


Feb. 8




Feb. 11

Survey research

Chapter 8;


Feb. 13


12-step form due


Feb. 15


Chapter 7;
Individual project article notes due


Feb. 20


Group lit review due


Feb. 22

Project work



Feb. 25

Research ethics

Chapter 3;


Feb. 27


Individual project lit review map due


March 1


IRB training certificate due


March 4


Group “method” section due;
12-step form due


March 6

Using SPSS

Individual Project Lit review draft due


March 8

Project work



March 18

Writing up research

Chapter 12;
 Group “analysis” section due


March 20

Qualitative basics
Group project 2—focus groups

Chapter 10;


March 22


Group project  1 due


March 25


12-step form due


March 27

Focus groups

Group project 2 source list due


April 1


12-step form due


April 3


Group project  2 lit review due


April 5

Project work

12-step form due;


April 8

Project work

Group project 2 method section due


April 10

Rhetorical research

 Individual Project Method section draft due


April 12


12-step form due


April 15

Analyzing qualitative data activity



April 17




April 19

Content analysis

Chapter 11;
12-step form due


April 22


Group project 2 analysis section due


April 24

Experiment activity

Group project 2 due


April 26


Chapter 9;
Individual Project Method section final draft due


April 29


12-step form due


May 1


Experiment write-up due


May 3

Peer editing

 Individual  project draft due






May 8,
8-10 am

Final exam time
Individual project due


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:1/16/2013 10:44:32 AM