Communication and Media Studies 330

COMS 330: Communication Theory

Prerequisites: COMS 130 and junior standing, or permission of the instructor

Credit hours (3)

A survey of communication theories in a variety of contexts.  Includes study of interpersonal, group, persuasive, organizational, rhetorical, mass media, and intercultural theory.  This is a core course required of all students majoring in the School of Communication.

Contemporary theories and practices in oral communication; examines wide range of behaviorally oriented theories and studies of oral communication. Speaking (sending) and listening (receiving) emphasized.

Detailed Description of Course

The course is an overview of the field of communication research.  It begins by briefly outlining the history and development of the field and distinguishes social scientific study of communication from humanistic approaches.  It then proceeds to highlight methods of inquiry from which theories emerge.  Included in this discussion is the identification of meta-theoretical issues such as epistemology, ontology and other often unstated assumptions made by the theorist.  With the above as a foundation, the bulk of the course focuses on exposing the student to a wide variety of communication theories.  An attempt is made to include theories from a wide variety of contexts; intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, public speaking, and mass communication, etc.  Theories discussed are significant because of their historical value in shaping the field, their present value in generating research or insights into human communication or their value in illustrating where the field may be headed as it continues to explore human communication.  Examples of theories which could be covered include: Mediational Theory of Meaning (Osgood), Symbolic Interactionism (Mead), Social Penetration Theory (Altman and Taylor), etc.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course includes lectures/discussion, group exercises, and outside reading/research.  There are also numerous exercises graded only in the aggregate that encourage personal application of the material being covered.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

At the end of the course students should be able to:
    1) Have a basic understanding of the history and evolution of the field of communication.
    2) Identify a wide variety of theories within the field and associate them with the appropriate theorist.
    3) Apply these theories to “real life” situations when appropriate.
    4) Present their own opinions, reactions, and theoretical concepts in a clear, confident manner.

Assessment Measures

Students’ mastery of the course objectives will be assessed as follows:
    1) Exams will be used to assess students’ understanding of various theories covered in the course.
    2) Writing and/or oral assignments will be used to assess students’ abilities to understand and react to theories and apply
       theories to “real life” situations.

Other Course Information

Occasional use of video equipment may be encouraged (recorder and playback), depending on the nature of lecture material or group presentations by students.


Review and Approval

April 19, 2016
December 16, 2015
September 2001