Interpersonal Communication

August 6, 2009

University Mission
John Carroll is a Catholic and Jesuit University dedicated to developing women and men with the knowledge and character to lead and serve.

Course Goals

Our incredibly diverse society has changed the expectations for interpersonal competence. Continuing demographic changes in the United States are forcing us to recognize the we must become not only more culturally sensitive but also more culturally competent in our communication. In addition, increasing globalization requires that we be able to interact completely with people of different cultural backgrounds.

The purpose of the course is to develop an understanding of some of the major theories and principles of interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication concerns our interactions with others on a one-to-one or one-to-few basis. This type of communication can occur with family, friends, acquaintances, business associates, or intimates. We will examine peoples’ similarities and differences along ethnic, racial gender, socioeconomic, age, and sexual orientation. This course focuses on some of the distinct qualities of these types of interactions. This course fulfills the diversity requirement (D) for core.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe and define the basic interpersonal communication terms and concepts
  • Explain the major theories of interpersonal communication
  • Apply the theories of interpersonal communication to everyday interpersonal encounters
  • Demonstrate understanding of the complexity of the interpersonal process
  • Explain how meaning and identity are constructed collaboratively
  • Explain how we make meaning during the perception process through the interaction and effective listening, and how this impacts interpersonal communication
  • Explain how we provide messages verbally and nonverbally in our interactions, potentially moving relationships from being “social” to being “interpersonal”
  • Think critically, constructing and deconstructing arguments form different points of view, demonstrating how conflict can be a productive part of communication.
  • Demonstrate an ability to understand and interact productively with others in diverse communities with an informed awareness of their personal relevance.
  • Demonstrate confidence in interpersonal encounters by articulating the values, assumptions, and methods of interpersonal communication
  • Describe the ethical issues associated with interpersonal communication choices
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the differences in verbal and nonverbal communication between varying ethnic groups
  • Describe effective listening strategies in varied relationships
  • Describe the various challenges affecting interpersonal interactions due to gender, technology, culture, and media
  • Explain the nature of hidden stereotypes and bias in communication

Required Readings and Material

  • DeVito, J. A. (2007). The interpersonal communication book (11 ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Applegate, J. L., & Morreale, S. P. (1999). Service learning in Communication: A natural partnership.
  • In D. Droge & B. O. Murphy (Eds.), Voices of strong democracy: Concepts and models for service learning in Communication Studies (pp. ix-xiv). Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education

Course Requirements

  • Exams: There will be four exams this semester- three during class time and a final exam. The exams will require analysis, recall, and application of the concepts we have studied both in class and in your reading. The texts, class discussions, supplemental readings, activities, and lectures will all be covered on the exams. (30%)
  • Service Learning Project- Journal: see assignment at the end of the syllabus (30%)
  • Class Presentation: You will present your learning from the service learning project in the last two weeks of the semester (5%)
  • Homework: There will be homework assignment/exercises to complete (15%)
  • Class Participation: Attendance at all class meetings is expected. The discussions, lecture material and class exercises are an integral part of learning the course material. (20%)

Service Learning Project

Consistent with the mission of Jesuit education, students should have an opportunity to learn to service others. Service learning provides students an opportunity to use the learning from their own coursework to enhance the lives of others. “Service learning presents each act of learning as a resolution of the dialectic between the individual and society. Each successful resolution enhances both the perspective of the individual and the fabric of society by strengthening the link between the two” (Applegate & Morreale, 1999, p. x). The service learning activity will be worth 30% of your final grade. The requirements are completion 1 ½ hours per week over a 10-week period beginning the week of January 29 continuing to the end of the week of April 2.

Service Learning
Specifically, students enrolled in Interpersonal Communication will have the opportunity to spend the semester working with a population or group that is significantly different from their own background. Through these interactions, you will have the opportunity to develop the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to be effective participants in a changing society. During this project you will work toward building and sustaining relationships with students from local schools (or through a community after school program), and to teach and to reduce stereotypes and prejudices. As a community partner, John Carroll University students will go to Caledonia Elementary School, St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School, or the Intergenerational School (preferred sites) once a week for one and one half hours over a ten-week period to tutor the children in the We the People Project. Transportation is provided. You must follow these guidelines:
Students must register with the Center for Community Service;

  • The service must be completed at one service site for the entire semester
  • You must visit the site one a week for ten weeks; you must be at the site for ~1 ½ hours each visit;
  • The service must involve direct interaction with children enrolled in grades K-6;
  • You must keep a service-learning journal that includes a complete a description of your responsibilities, a reporting of your activities while at the service site, and a description of how your service has enriched your understanding of communication, diversity, racism and fighting intolerance in today’s world.

Journal Entry Guidelines for service learning
Your journal must include the following information:

A. Use assignment one; Watch the Color of Fear and use the questions provided to guide your response

B. Weekly entries include the following information:

  1. Describe briefly how your time was spent (one paragraph maximum)
  2. Indicate what you learned from examining how you reacted. This is an important step because it indicates the result of your reflection-in-action; it records awareness and sensitivity. This is the critical analysis that moves learning beyond a description of the event/exercise or material. To accomplish this, you will have to attempt to step back form the situation and review what you saw or experienced, what you felt and recognized. You should integrate materials discussed in class to examine the theories and how they fit with what we have learned about interpersonal communication and cultural diversity. You will also be expected to question what you know or what you use believe. Discuss reactions to that particular day’s responsibilities. Your reactions can suggest issues to explore or think about. How did this relate to class readings?

Final Group Presentation
You individually or with classmates who volunteered or researched the same or similar service centers will have 30 minutes to present to the rest of the class. Every person must participate in this presentation. Your group presentation must be clear, concise and connected. In other words, each individual group member will present his/her own work, but these presentations must be integrated in a way that the class can see the connection in all of your work. Your presentation should include the following material:

  1. What was your main goal/research question/hypothesis? In other words, what did you expect to find through service learning observations or research?
  2. What did you find? (NOTE: remember…you don’t have a lot of time for this presentation so you should briefly outline your findings; however, also keep in mind that this is the only place that you will be able to report your actual findings so you should do a good job!)
  3. Connect your results to the literature. How did what you observed “fit” with what you expected to find? Why do you think you found what you did? NOTE: this is the only place you will be able to integrate what you found with what you expected to find (i.e., Part II)…keep this in mind!! Your grade will reflect your ability to connect this information in a clear, concise, and meaningful manner!
  4. The “overall” group presentation should be connected and should provide information to the class about interpersonal communication and diversity.

School: John Carroll University
Professor: Dr. Margaret O. Finucane
  • update-img-new

    Get updates on what's new in the Campus Compact Network