Communication Studies 101LA

Introduction to

Communication Studies

Fall 2001

Instructor: Brian Steffen

Seminar Assistant: Brianne Trease

Telephone: 961-1650

Office & Hours: MW 10-12 and F 10-11 in 24 McNeill Hall.

Brian's e-mail:

Brianne's e-mail:

Introduction | Course Format | Readings and Other Materials | Examinations and Quizzes |

Written Component | Academic Dishonesty | Grading Breakdown | Tentative Schedule |


Communication Studies 101 provides an introductory examination of the practices and theories that inform the study of human communication as a social and cultural phenomenon. The course also provides students with a first look at the variety of opportunities awaiting communication studies graduates. As a Simpson liberal arts seminar, the course will provide students with an important introduction to the liberal arts mission of the College.

Introduction to Communication Studies is a required course for all communication studies majors and minors at Simpson College. Other students may enroll for elective credit.

Course Format

As is the instructor's typical philosophy, students will play a large role in conducting classes. While there will be some lecture materials, students should come to class prepared and ready to contribute to our class sessions. Contributions can come in oral, written, or electronic form.

We will begin the term by trying to come to grips with the meaning of the term communication and to appreciate the complexity and richness embraced by the process of human communication in interpersonal, organizational and mediated contexts. We will move on to discuss some of the history of the discipline and considering how the study of communication moves in a line from Aristotle to the Internet. Students will be introduced to some of the important theories of communication. Then we will see how communication professionals put these ideas into practice in everyday life.

In addition to the communications-related content of the course, this liberal arts seminar will provide you with important tips on how to navigate your way through the next four years of your life at Simpson. Some of the liberal arts components of this seminar include:

Readings and Other Materials

Two textbooks are required purchases for students enrolled in Introduction to Communication Studies this term:

Students will find that reading assignments and questions to ponder while completing readings will be distributed to them via electronic mail several days before they are due to be completed for classroom discussion. By the assigned dates, students should be prepared to discuss readings and their assessments of the readings.

Examinations and Quizzes

There will be two 50-question multiple choice examinations in the course, one at midterm and the other at final examination week. Additionally, there will be a series of 8- to 9-point quizzes administered at regular intervals throughout the term. Quizzes will cover readings and materials handled in class during the previous two weeks. See the schedule distributed by the instructor for more information as to dates.

Written Component

You will write frequently in this course, and your work will be for varying purposes and be of varying legnths during the term. Some writings will be discussion starters that may or may not form the basis for later written essays and projects. Others will ask you to explore specific issues and concerns within the three forms of communication studies taught at Simpson — speech and rhetoric, journalism and mass communication, and corporate communication. Some written work will ask you to consider the applicability of communication theory in the "real" world of communication practice.

Additionally, you will gather with other students to discuss your written ideas both inside and outside of class. Finally, you will work within small groups of students to produce panel discussions and write team papers on current issues within specific communication industries.

Academic Dishonesty

Honesty is a must in this course. The College's policies regarding academic dishonesty are outlined on Page 66-67 of the 2001-03 Simpson College General Catalog. With regard to this course, acts of dishonesty include, but are not necessarily limited to, cheating on examinations, plagiarizing material from other sources, making up material or sources of information, and/or submitting work for this course originally completed for other courses without the permissions of the instructors involved.

The penalty for any form of substantiated academic dishonesty (that in which the instructor has firm evidence) is:

Students wishing to appeal charges of substantiated academic dishonesty may request a hearing before an academic appeals committee of the College.

Grading Breakdown

Students will be eligible to receive up to 350 points for their work in Introduction to Communication Studies. The points will be awarded as follows:

 Criteria Points
 Examinations 100
Quizzes 50
 Short Papers 100
 Panels and Team Papers 100
 Total 350

Attendance and participation also play a factor in the determination of final course grades. Students with no unexcused absences on their records and superior classroom participation will be rewarded with an increase of up to 1/3 of a letter grade in determination of final grade. Students in will be penalized 1% (or 3 points) of the total possible number of points in the course for each unexcused absence. Students with excused reasons for missing class must alert me. Otherwise, absences will be considered unexcused.

At the end of the course, final grades will be determined either by straight-percentage scale or by curve, depending on the method which benefits the largest number of students in the course.

Tentative Schedule for Introduction to Communication Studies

See the attached sheet for more information.