Communication Studies 301: Human Communication Theory


Dr. Mark V. Redmond                                                                                                  Phone: 294-0183

Office: 338 Carver Hall                                                                             Email:

Office Hours: M-Th 3:10-4:00 & by appointment            Homepage:

Course Description  ComSt 301 involves an in-depth examination of the major theories related to human communication with particular emphasis on those theories underlying interpersonal, small group, organizational, and intercultural communication.



1. To increase students' understanding of specific human communication theories.

2. To provide students with a foundation for additional courses in communication studies.

3. To further the development of abstract and analytical cognitive skills.


Text      Em Griffin, A First Look at Communication Theory, Sixth Edition,

                    (Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2006).


Readings  You are expected to have read the material for each day prior to the beginning of class.  The success of each day’s class period depends upon every student coming prepared to engage in discussion.  Completion of the papers will be much easier if you have read the material prior to the given class discussion/lecture.


Theory Quiz:  A quiz will be given over the material covered in the first four or five class periods consisting of short essay and multiple choice questions on communication and the nature of theory.


Theory Summary and Application Papers:


For each theory/chapter, you are to write a two page paper in your own words with 1 inch margins, double spaced, 12 point font, no cover page; NO RIGHT JUSTIFICATION, and your name, chapter number, and theory name all on one line. 


There are three parts to the paper each being one-third of the overall paper length and grade. 

Part 1: Provide a brief overview and summary of the theory reflecting the essence of the theory including when appropriate its goals, strengths, and any weaknesses. 

Part 2: Identify, explain, and elaborate on any two of the most important and critical concepts or principles. 

Part 3: Use your own communication experiences to illustrate, support or contradict the theory (such as specific principles and concepts).  Incorporate appropriate and specific terminology/concepts from the theory.  


Your paper is expected to reflect information from the text, lecture, and class discussion.  The paper format is narrative and not outline; meaning that each point should be explained adequately.  Simply listing a principle without explanation is not acceptable. 


You are expected to “translate” information into your own words.  Direct wording ( 3 or more words in phrases/sentences) taken from the text MUST BE IN QUOTATION MARKS or will be considered plagiarism, resulting in failure.  The use of quotations is to be minimal if used at all.


Papers are due at the beginning of the next class period following the completion of the in-class discussion/lecture on a given theory.  Any paper submitted 30 minutes to 24 hours after the class period in which it is due will be docked 4 points; those submitted 24-48 hours later will be docked 6 points.  No late papers will be accepted after two days.  Only hard copies of papers are accepted (papers are not accepted through email).

Paper Grading:  Each paper is worth a total of 12 points with 4 points assigned to each Part.

Each part will be evaluated on how well it meets the prescribed part requirements and how well it demonstrates understanding and comprehension of the theory, text, lecture, and relevant class discussion.  Paper grades are affected by the quality of your thinking, reflection of important information, the ability to effectively express your ideas in writing, and writing competence.


Must Be Your Own Work:  You are encouraged to discuss theories with other students to help you complete the papers, however, the CONTENT OF EACH PAPER IS TO BE YOUR OWN WORK AND WORDS AND NOT THAT OF ANY OTHER PERSON.  Students suspected of not doing their own work will be required, at my discretion, to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the relevant material through a pop quiz or examination.  Failure to comply or adequately demonstrate understanding of the question in material will result in failing the course.



Theory Construction and Presentation:  (Two at 10 Points each).  Students will work in class to develop a comprehensive communication theory based on the theories covered up unto that time.  Each group will present its theory in a graphical/visual form to the rest of the class.  Theories are graded against the traditional standards/criteria for evaluating theories.  .


Class Participation in Group Discussion and Activities:  (10 points)  Students will frequently be placed in groups to discuss issues in the readings or complete other assigned learning tasks.  Students will be graded on how well they provide informed input and contribute to the group activities based on my observations during class time.  Absences reduce participation opportunities and subsequent grade.



Grades:  Your grade will be based on how many total points you accumulate during the term.  The total number of points possible is as follows:


       Theory Quiz                                                                           24 points

       Theory Summary/Application (18 at 12 points each )                   216 points

       Group Theory/Presentation (2 at 10 points each)                            20 points

       Participation                                                                          10 points

       TOTAL POSSIBLE POINTS                                                270 points


Caveat:  Your goal is to accumulate as many points as possible.  In recognition of the rigor with which papers are graded, a curve is built into the number of points you need to accumulate to achieve a particular grade.  Ultimately, the design of this course puts you in a position to decide the grade for which you are willing to work.  Concerns about grading should be raised as soon as possible after the return of a given assignment.  You are responsible for understanding and following all course requirements.


A  = 230-266                          B  = 203-212                          C  = 176-185                          D  = 150-159

A- = 221-229                           B- = 194-202                          C- = 168-175                           D- = 141-149

B+ = 213-220                          C+ = 186-193                          D+ = 160-167                          F   = 140 or below


Disability Accommodation: If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please make arrangements to meet with me soon. Please request that a Disability Resources staff send a SAAR form verifying your disability and specifying the accommodation you will need.

Tentative Calendar

(This calendar WILL change.  YOU are responsible for staying informed as to changes)


Date            Topic                                                                                      Reading                                                                                         

Jan    9 T     Course Intro. Defining communication terms and contexts

         11 Th   Communication Traditions.                                                     Ch. 2


         16 T     The nature of theory                                                               Ch. 1

         18 Th   Theory continued—applied to symbolic convergence.              Ch. 3


         23 T     THEORY QUIZ.  Symbolic Interaction Theory                      p. 51-54 &Ch. 4

         25 Th   SI continued.  Coordinated Management of Meaning.              Ch. 5


         30 T     CMM continued.  Expectancy Violations Theory.                    Ch. 6

Feb      1 Th   Expectancy Violations Theory.                                    


           6 T    Social penetration theory/Social Exchange                               p. 114-117 & Ch. 8

           8 Th   Uncertainty reduction theory                                                   Ch. 9


         13 T     URT continued.  Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory               p. 424-425 & Ch. 30

         15 Th   Social Information Processing Theory                                     Ch. 10


         20 T     Relational Dialectics                                                              Ch. 11

         22 Th   The Interactional View                                                           Ch. 12


         27 T     Face Theory.  Face Negotiation Theory                                   Ch. 31

Mar     1 Th   Face continued.  GROUP CLASS TIME.



           8 Th   GROUP THEORY PRESENTATIONS                            


Spring Break


         20 T     Speech Codes Theory.  Accommodation Theory                      Ch. 32.    

         22 Th   Functional Perspective on Group Decision Making                   p. 246-248 & Ch. 17


         27 T     Adaptive Structuration Theory                                                 Ch. 18

         29 Th   Adaptive Struct. continued.  Information Systems Theory         Ch. 19


Apr      3 T    Info. Systems Theory continued.  Cultural Approach to Org.    Ch. 20

           5 Th   Cultural Approach to Organization continued.              


         10 T     Dramatism.  Narrative Paradigm.                                             Ch. 23

         12 Th   Narrative Paradigm continued.                                                 Ch. 24


         17 T     Cultivation Theory.                                                                383-384 & Ch. 27                                                                                  

         19 Th   Uses and Gratifications Theory.                                                 Online Readings


         24 T     GROUP TIME FOR THEORY                                    



Final exam period used for group presentations:

         Wednesday, May 2: 9:45-11:45