COM 452, Building Communication Theory
Spring 2008

Professor Tom Kelleher, Ph.D.
Meeting Times and Place Tuesday and Thursday, 9-10:15 a.m.
George Hall 215
Office Crawford Hall 314, 956-9944
Office Hours

Monday, 8:00 a.m-12:00 p.m.
Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
By appointment.

Required Text

Strongly Recommended Text (if you don't buy/own this, make sure you have access for reference)

Other Assigned Readings
Outside readings and research may be assigned from the Web, library resources and handouts throughout the semester. 

Course Overview
General Description
As described in the UH Manoa course catalog, we will cover "major theories of communication in terms of requirements for a theory, theory development, associated research, and application." COM 201 is a prerequisite, as is junior standing as a COM major.

You might be familiar with a handful of broad communication theories from COM 201 (for example, agenda setting or cultivation) or theories from other communication courses you have taken in interpersonal, organizational, intercultural, or international communication. In this class we will study communication theories in greater depth. We will look at how people have developed and tested these theories over the years, and how the theories can be applied to real work in communication careers such as public relations, journalism, multimedia design, video production, and organizational communication training. Of course, the theories we discuss also will apply in your life as a student, scholar and member of a wide range of organizations and communities.

We will study the process of theory-building and the reasons for doing so. We will study communication theories, and we will work to apply them in class activities and projects. If things go really well, we will help develop some theory ourselves.

Upon completion of this course you should be able to: 

Your final grade will be based on exams, presentations, written assignments, participation and attendance.

Two exams will cover material from class lectures, class discussion, activities, handouts and assigned readings. Exams may include multiple-choice, short-answer and essay questions. THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO MAKE-UP EXAMS without proper documentation for your absence, which must be provided before the absence if at all possible. A missed exam will count as a zero.

Written Assignments
Written assignments -- mainly the literature review and pilot study report -- must be typed and double-spaced using APA style.  Effective scholarly writing requires careful attention to editing, so refine your writing through several drafts. Check spelling and punctuation. One letter grade (or 10%) will be deducted for each day an assignment is late.

The participation portion of your grade will include scheduled activities as well as unannounced opportunities and day-to-day, in-class discussion. Your participation in class discussions should reflect your reading and preparation. From time to time, short homework assignments might be required. For example, I might ask you to bring an article to discuss, to complete a brief survey, or to bring a typed outline of one of your assignments. Though these assignments won't be graded on an A-F scale, missing the assignment will result in at least a one-point deduction from your participation score at the end of the semester.

Attendance and Punctuality
I also will consider class attendance and punctuality when I assign your class participation grade. Failure to attend class will result in a zero for any assignments collected that day. In case of absence due to emergencies (e.g., death in family or serious illness), you must notify me and provide appropriate documentation within a week after first missing class. Excuses for planned absences must be given to me in writing and must be approved one week in advance of the missed class period. 

Come to class on time and meet deadlines. If you miss an in-class assignment because you are late or absent, you will not be given the opportunity to make it up without a documented, university-approved excuse. 

Respecting Your Fellow Students
You and your fellow students will have many opportunities to contribute to this class. Information provided by students may be used as material for assignments and exams. Contributions to in-class activities and discussions will be considered favorably in participation grading. "Negative" contributions such as arriving late and engaging in distracting side-conversations (especially e-mail, texting etc.) will hurt your participation grade. 

Grading Weight

Exam 1
Exam 2
Term paper (see timeline for elements)
In-class activities and participation

Final Grade Requirements
A = 90-100% 
B = 80-89%
C = 70-79%
D = 60-69%
F = Below 60%

There will be absolutely no adjustment of grades on an individual basis (e.g., "I'm only one point away from a B, and I must get a B because I'm on probation.") Any requests to do so will be seen as an attempted breach of fairness to the rest of the class.

Special Accommodations
Students requiring special accommodations must notify the instructor and present appropriate supporting documentation by the end of the second week of class.

Seeking Help
This course should provide a great learning experience for all of us. The success of the course depends largely on effective student-teacher interaction. Don't feel like you have to have a pressing problem to talk to me. I look forward to hearing your input. I'll be available during my office hours unless announced otherwise, and I'm also willing to set up an appointment if the office hours don't fit your schedule.

The phone number for the School of Communications is 956-8715. The school chair is Professor Dan Wedemeyer.

Academic Honesty
Academic dishonesty of any sort will not be tolerated. I take cheating issues very seriously, and I've had some unpleasant experiences dealing with cases of plagiarism recently. Please see me if you have any questions about academic honesty, and I'll be more than happy to discuss such issues before you complete your work.

Preliminary Class Timeline
Please make a careful note of the exam and assignment dates. Make sure that you do not have any scheduling conflicts.  The exam dates are very unlikely to change. Other topics and readings are subject to change by the professor. Additional readings and assignments may be added as we go.

Class Days General Topics Assignments Due
Jan. 15, 17
  • Introduction to the course
  • Expectations and syllabus review
  • Description of course projects, self-introductions, personal goals for course
Read syllabus and introduction to "Part I" (pp. 1-2) by 1/17
Jan. 22, 24
  • Introduction to studying communication
Read Chapter 1 by 1/22
Jan. 29, 31
  • Points of view about theory
Read Chapter 2 by 1/29
Feb. 5, 7
  • Paradigms and communication theory
Read Chapter 3 by 2/5
Feb. 12, 14
  • Contexts, traits and states
Read Chapter 4 by 2/12
Feb. 19, 21
  • Persuasion
Read Chapter 5 by 2/19
Feb. 26, 28
  • Review and Exam 1
Exam 1 on February 28
March 4, 6

Class meets Tuesday (3/4) at Hamilton Library, ROOM 156A; Read "handouts" by Thursday (3/6)

March 11, 13
  • Group contexts
Read Chapter 9 by 3/11
March 18, 20
  • Organizational contexts
  • Bibliography for pilot study
Read Chapter 10 by 3/18
Draft bibliography due 3/20
Spring Break, March 24-28    
April 1, 3
  • Mass media contexts
  • Lit review outlining

Read Chapter 11 by 4/1

April 8, 10
  • Applied contexts
  • Discuss project progress

Read Chapter 12 by 4/8
Outline and RQs/hypotheses due 4/10

April 15, 17
  • Review and Exam 2
Exam 2 on April 17
April 22, 24
  • Supervised work on literature review, re-outlining if necessary, pilot study

Lit review draft due 4/22
Methods for pilot study due 4/24

April 29, May 1
  • Conduct pilot studies, individual meetings as needed
Draft "discussion" section due 5/1
May 6
  • Discuss pilot studies
Complete written paper due 5/6
Thursday, May 15 (9:45 - 11:45 a.m.)
  • Final exam period - Poster session