ComSt 203                                                                                             Spring 2004




Dr. Mark V. Redmond                               Office Hours: MWF 2-3, TTh 2-3 & by appointment

Office: 204A Hamilton Hall                        Homepage:

Phone:  294-0183                                             Email:    



       This course is designed to enhance your ability to critically evaluate, review, and comment on communication research.  To accomplish this goal students study the research process including theory building, literature review, research design, statistical analysis, and reporting.



This course is designed to help students achieve the following:

·        A critical and analytical way of examining the world.

·        An understanding of the relationship between theory and research.

·        The ability to correctly reference and cite articles using APA (American Psychological

           Association) style.

·        An understanding of fundamental communication research methods and design.

·        An ability to locate, understand, evaluate, and critique communication research.



Textbook:  Patten, M. L. (2004).  Understanding research methods, 4th ed.  L.A.: Pyrczak Publishing. (this is not the edition used in the Fall of 2002)


Research Articles   (available for copying in the reading room, Hamilton Hall 171, or as indicated):


Qualitative Study:  Dougherty, D. S. (2001).  Women’s discursive construction of a sexual harassment paradox.  Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 2, 6-13.—a copy will be emailed out.


Quantitative Study:  Boster, F. J., Fediuk, T. A., & Kotowski, M. R. (2001).  The effectiveness of an altruistic appeal in the presence and absence of favors.  Communication Monographs, 68, 340-346. (available on line: go to ISU Library collections, “e-journals and e-books” for this journal.



Readings:  Your are expected to complete the reading prior to the class period for which a chapter is indicated on the attached calendar.  Completion of readings is essential to understanding the lecture and effectively participating in classroom discussion.  BRING YOUR TEXT TO CLASS EACH DAY.


Quizzes:  Quizzes will be given over the readings, research articles, and lectures on a random basis.  Quizzes on the text material will be based on the “Exercise” questions after each chapter.  Be sure to have read the assigned material BEFORE class.  No make-up quizzes will be given. 


Research Project:

       You are to choose a communication oriented topic to investigate that must be approved in advance by me.  This project consists primarily of searching appropriate academic journal articles and finding three research articles relevant to your topic.  There are three parts to this project: article summary, article critique, and a synthesis paper.  You are expected to demonstrate a command of the appropriate APA paper writing style on ALL assignments.

Research Article Summary:  For the first of your research articles you are to write a summary that describes the underlying concepts and theory, the method, and the results.  The copy of the article must be submitted along with the summary.


Research Article Critique:  For the second of your research articles you are to write a critique of the methodology and findings.  The copy of the article must be submitted along with the critique.


Theory Building/Synthesis Paper:  You will be required to write a paper about the topic you have chosen based upon the three research articles.  This is a challenging activity because it requires you to use a higher level of cognitive processing called synthesis.  The articles are to melded together into a cogent discussion of your topic.  More details will be provided.  The assignment will be graded on the basis of how well the material is synthesized and the application of appropriate style rules for citations and references.  This will be graded in person during finals week.  Copies of all three articles are to be submitted with the paper.


Additional Assignments:   There will be additional graded assignments and activities as announced.



       The following is an estimate of how the grading will break down for the three major sets of assignments.  The actual breakdown will depend upon how many assignments are given from each text and will be confirmed as the term progresses.


       Quizzes                 (~10 at 10 points each)               100

       Research Article Summary                                                 20

       Research Article Critique                                                   20

       Synthesis Paper                                                                 40

       Additional Assignments (~4 at 5 points each)              20

                                            Approximate Total Points   =    200


The lowest number of points possible for any graded material is 55% of the assigned points.  This means missing a 10 point quiz will still net you 5 ½ points. 


The following scale will be used in determining your final grade:

100-93% = A              86-83 = B                    76-73 = C                   66-63 = D

92-90  = A-                  82-80 = B-                  72-70 = C-                  62-60 = D-

89-87  = B+                79-77 = C+                 69-67 = D+                 59-  0 = F


Attendance:  You are expected to attend all classes.  You can only gain the full impact of the course by attending class sessions since there will be frequent exercises and activities during class; therefore, those who are diligent in their attendance will be rewarded.  After your final grade is determined, the percentage will be adjusted on a bonus basis according to the following: 0 absences, 1 % will be added to your grade; 1 absence, 1/2% will be added; 2-4 absences 0%.  Thus for example, if you have 89% (B+) after all the assignments and have not missed any classes, your percentage would be raised by 1% to 90 (A-).  Grades will be lowered by 1% for each absence after 4 (e.g., 6 absences would cause a grade of 80% (B-) to be lowered 2% to 78% (C+)).  This policy is to eliminate the need for excused absences.  While I appreciate knowing you will be absent, I do not want to make judgments about their legitimacy.  THERE ARE NO EXCUSED ABSENCES.  See me immediately at the beginning of the term if you expect to miss more than two class periods. 

TENTATIVE CALENDAR (Check email for updates)


Day                    Topic                                                                              Reading              

Jan 13     Tu           Course Introduction.  Epistemology

       15    Th           Epistemology continued.  Rationalism vs. empiricism. 1, 13


20   Tu           Epistemology, theory, and nature of science.

22   Th           Communication Studies Overview.  APA Style.                       18, web pages


27   Tu           Theory & Literature Reviews. RESEARCH TOPIC DUE       14, 16, 17

       29   Th           Conducting a literature search.     Computer lab?                    15


Feb 3      Tu          Qualitative vs. quantitative research     . Experimental               9, 10, Boster, et al.

       5     Th           Qualitative vs. quantitative.  Ethnography & interview.      Dougherty


       10   Tu           Experimental & quasi-experimental.                                 2, 3,

       12   Th           Experimental, quasi-experimental, non-experimental.        4, 5


       17   Tu           Variables, hypotheses, and research questions.                 5, 6, 7, 8.

       19   Th           Research article reports and discussion.                                   ARTICLE SUMMARY


       24   Tu           Sampling.                                                                                19, 20, 21, 22,     

       26   Th           Sampling continued.  Scales and measurement.                 23, 24, 41


Mar 2     Tu           Experimental design.                                                               34, 35, 36

       4     Th           Experimental design continued   Class room experiment.   37, 38


       9     Tu           Qualitative methods.                                                                Appendix A, online read.

       11   Th           Qualitative methods continued.


                                                   SPRING BREAK


       23   Tu           Survey methodology.                                                              Online reading

       25   Th           Survey development; class project.                                          ARTICLE CRITIQUE


30   Tu           Statistics overview and review.                                                39, 40, 42, 43, 44

Apr   1   Th           Distributions; descriptive statistics.                                           45, 46, 47, 48


         6   Tu           Survey analysis and reports by teams.

         8   Th           Variance and correlation.                                                        49, 50, 51, 52


       13   Tu           Issues of significance. Statistics summary.                         53

15   Th           Effect size and interpretation.                                                   54, 55, 56


       20   Tu           (appointments—discuss papers)

22   Th           (appointments—discuss papers)


       27   Tu           Final reports—group synthesis.                                               SYNTHESIS PAPER

29   Th           Final reports by groups.                                                         


Finals Week: Appointments to pick up the papers and receive feedback.