Communication Studies 220

Mass Communication

and Society

Spring 2003

Instructor: Brian Steffen

Telephone: 961-1650

Office and Hours: Daily 9-10 and by appointment


Course Format | Readings and Other Materials | Quizzes and Examinations

Written Component | Academic Dishonesty | Grading Criteria | Tentative Schedule

Course Format

The course will be operated primarily as a lecture-discussion, meaning I will lecture somewhat but that students are expected to have read assigned materials before class and be prepared to contribute to our discussions.

Our course will provide us with excellent opportunities to learn about media by consuming it in class through the reading and viewing of cultural "texts": Newspapers, magazines, music, television and video. I would be happy to accept suggestions for other readings and viewings that make an intellectual contribution to our course. I believe strongly in student ownership of the course as the best means of illustrating the role of mass communication in everyday life. This philosophy necessarily assumes an intellectual interest on the parts of students and their active participation in classroom discussions and debates.

Readings and Other Materials

There are four required texts for students enrolled this term in Mass Communication and Society:

Precise reading schedules will be distributed to students via email updates. Each reading assignment will be accompanied with discussion and reflection questions designed to help guide your reading for each evening's class session.

Quizzes and Examinations

Students in the course will complete a series of 7- to 8-point quizzes every other Thursday. The dates for these quizzes shall be Jan. 16 and 30, Feb. 13 and 27, March 20, and April 3 and 17. The mini-quizzes will cover classroom and reading materials assigned since the previous quiz. Additionally, 50-point multiple-choice examinations will be administered at classtime on Feb. 18 and during our final-examination meeting period at 8:30 a.m. on April 22.

Written Component

The written component of the course is designed to help students develop their own critical perspectives regarding the American mass communication system. Click here for more details.

Academic Dishonesty

Honesty is a must in this course. The College's policies regarding academic dishonesty are outlined on pages 66-67 of the 2001-2003 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 academic dishonesty shall be failure of the course.

Grading Criteria

Students will be eligible to receive up to 200 points for their work in Mass Communication and Society. The points will be awarded as follows:

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 on their final grade. Students will be penalized 1.5% of the course point total for each unexcused absence. Special Note: All absences on Thursday, March 6, and Tuesday, March 18, will be deemed unexcused unless they are part of an official Simpson College travel activity. 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

The course will be subdivided into the follwing topics:

Precise dates during which topics will be under consideration, along with reading assignments to accompany the topics, will be distributed to students electronically.