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“Mom_ Dad_ Meet Alex

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					       Sinclair Community College COM 206 – Interpersonal Communication Spring, 2011

                                                    Case Study Two

                                     Mom, Dad, Meet Alex - Chapters 5, 6, 7

Jo was on the phone with her mom. In an apprehensive manner, she said, “Mom, are you sure it’s all right for Alex to
come home with me for Thanksgiving? I know things are crazy with Uncle Louie’s family coming in from Alabama, but I
really would like you to meet Alex.”

Jo called her parents every Sunday evening and was taking this night to double check with her mother about whether a
guest would be appropriate for the holiday. Jo knew Uncle Louie was old school in his beliefs. In fact, he drove around
Montgomery in his pickup truck proudly displaying the Confederate flag. He often spoke of his ancestors who served in
the Confederate army during the Civil War. She also knew he had been a strong supporter, back in the day, of the then-
Alabama Governor and former Presidential candidate George Wallace. This was the same George Wallace who stood at
the entrance to the University of Alabama in an attempt to prevent black students from entering, when segregation was
outlawed.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine, Dear. Bring Alex with you,” Mrs. Vansickle said in a protective tone.

“No, really, Mom. It’s Uncle Louie! Are you sure we should add a stranger to the mix?” Just then, Jo heard Muffie
barking in the background and knew her mom had to take the family collie for a walk.

Mrs. Vansickle spoke quickly and ended the call. “There’s always room for one more around the table, and from
everything you’ve told us about Alex, we want to meet this person! It’ll be great to meet one of your friends, JoEllen,
really. I’ll bake your favorite pie! Your dad will pick you guys up at the airport. Love you. Bye.”

On her walk with the dog, Mrs.Vansickle was thinking about how she hadn’t heard Jo sound this upbeat about someone
in a long time and, frankly, she was thrilled. She’d always worried about Jo because she was afraid Jo was destined to be
alone. She was getting older, and even though she had brought men home before leaving for college, none had lasted
for more than a few months. Since moving from Georgia to Chicago to attend college, Jo hadn’t been home much, and
Mrs. Vansickle worried about her being alone in a strange place. Once Jo began to describe Alex—how Alex was
intelligent and witty—those worries left. Jo had spoken of what a great listener Alex was and how Jo felt better as a
person. She even indicated that it was possible this could be a long-term relationship since there had been talk about
living together. When Mrs. Vansickle thought about Jo’s comments, she couldn’t imagine a more perfect candidate for a
son-in-law, and anticipating a large church wedding just made Mrs. Vansickle giddy with delight.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Mrs. Vansickle waited for her husband to return from the airport with Jo and
Alex. She was taking the pie out of the oven when the back door opened. She looked up to see Jo’s smiling face.
“Hi, Mom. It’s so great to see you!” Jo said as she ran into the kitchen to give her mom a big hug.

When they broke from the embrace, Mrs. Vansickle excitedly exclaimed, “So Jo, where is he? Where’s Alex? I want to
meet this new friend of yours!”

At that moment, Mrs. Vansickle turned her eyes toward the door where standing in front of her husband with a suitcase
at her feet, she spied an attractive African-American woman.

Jo’s smile stretched across her face as she announced, “Mom, this is Alex.” Mrs. Vansickle paused for a split second and,
with a questioning look, extended her hand in greeting. With an apprehensive tone she stated, “Welcome to our home,
Alex,” as she avoided making eye contact. “Why don’t you ladies run upstairs and situate your things while I finish
dinner. We’ll eat in about 30 minutes,” she stated as a disingenuous smile decorated her face.


                                                              1
Certainly, Mrs. Vansickle expected Alex to be a man—after all, she was so looking forward to seeing the transition of a
new chapter in the life of her daughter, Jo. But she assumed that she’d misunderstood and decided any person who
would befriend Jo this way would be welcome in her home.

As Mrs. Vansickle looked at her husband, she could see that look in his eye. She asked if all went well at the airport, and
he murmured, “Uh-huh.” She attempted to ask him what was bothering him, but he kept changing the subject.
Frustrated at her inability to get any information from her husband, she finally grabbed him by the arm and pulled him
into the den.

Once the door was closed, Mr. Vansickle asked, “What do you expect me to do about this situation?”

Mrs. Vansickle replied, “Uh…what situation? I could be wrong, but I think it’ll all be fine.”

Mr. Vansickle continued, “You know how Louie feels about being around those people! You know your brother’s history
and how he supported that segregationist George Wallace. You know he’s always blaming blacks for many of the
problems faced by our people.”

“Wait a minute, Honey. Who are you talking about when you say “those people” and “our people?” she asked in a soft
voice.

“Dear, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard Louie say many times before. Heck, sometimes I think he’s still fighting the Civil
War. You’ve seen how angry he’s gotten when his own kids associate in any way with people who are not white. Where
are you going to seat Alex at the dinner table? What is she going to think of us if Louie doesn’t keep his mouth shut?” Mr.
Vansickle stated in quick fashion. He’d love to believe in his wife’s optimism, but he’d been in the family long enough to
know better.

Having a seat in the chair and calming herself down, Mrs. Vansickle replied, “Well, she’s our daughter, and if she chooses
Alex as her friend, then I will support them in any way I can.”

Her husband quickly replied, “If Louie has the audacity to attempt to embarrass Alex or us, then I will have to stand up to
him again and let him know that we don’t think as he does. I will not turn my back on my daughter and her friend
either!”

Mrs. Vansickle sighed and hung her head. As they returned to the living room where Jo was showing Alex some family
photos on the wall, Mr. and Mrs. Vansickle invited them to be seated on the sofa so they could get to know each other.
Mrs. Vansickle began making small talk. In rapid-fire succession, she addressed Alex.

“So, tell me what you two do in your spare time. I’ve visited Chicago, of course, but what really piques your interests?
Alex, have you taken JoEllen to meet your family? Where are you from, Alex? Are you studying the same majors in
school? Alex, do you have a boyfriend back home or at college?”

Jo and Alex looked at each other with embarrassed expressions, looked down toward the carpet, and in a sheepish tone
of voice, Jo proceeded to tell Mr. and Mrs. Vansickle about their living arrangements. The two college women supported
their statements by joining their left hands. Then Alex placed her left hand next to Jo’s, so that Mr. and Mrs. Vansickle
could see the diamond ring on Jo’s finger and the golden band on Alex’s hand.




                                                             2
 Sinclair Community College         COM 206 -Interpersonal Communication         Spring 2011 CS 2

 Name: _____________________ Section: _ __                         Date: __________________________

 Refer to the case study for Spring, 2011, “Mom, Dad, Meet Alex.” Answer the questions based
 on the case study and the text Interpersonal Communication: The Whole Story, by Kory Floyd.


 1. Thoroughly paraphrase your understanding of the Semantic Triangle. Explain how “friend”
     might fit into symbol, referent, and reference, according to Mrs. Vansickle. In addition, find
     at least two examples in the case study where loaded language is used, supporting your
     answers with evidence from the case study and the textbook, ensuring you cite the source.

 Please type your response here:



                      COM 206 Case Study Two, Question 1 – Mom, Dad, Meet Alex
Task Description: Student will answer questions using definitions from the text and details from the case
study, as well as original examples, paraphrases and insights in a manner that reflects the ability to
competently apply communication concepts to a specific situation.
Expected Outcomes                            Comments                                  Points        Points
                                                                                       Possible Earned
Thoroughly paraphrased Semantic                                                        18
Triangle and explained how “friend” fits
into symbol, referent, and reference.
Submitted and supported at least two
examples from the case study where
loaded language was used. Response
shows connections among a variety of
course concepts and/or extra examples.

 2. Thoroughly paraphrase the five characteristics of nonverbal communication using your
    textbook as a reference and citing the source. Using evidence from the case study and
    textbook to support your answers, provide examples of three of the characteristics of
    nonverbal communication demonstrated in the case study.

 Please type your response here:



                      COM 206 Case Study Two, Question 2 – Mom, Dad, Meet Alex
Task Description: Student will answer questions using definitions from the text and details from the case
study, as well as original examples, paraphrases and insights in a manner that reflects the ability to
competently apply communication concepts to a specific situation.
Expected Outcomes                            Comments                                  Points        Points
                                                                                       Possible Earned
Thoroughly paraphrased characteristics of                                              18
nonverbal communication. Provided
examples of three characteristics of
nonverbal communication demonstrated in

                                                          3
the case study. Response shows
connections among a variety of course
concepts and/or extra examples.

 3. Beginning on page 277 of the textbook, the author discusses ways of Becoming a Better
    Listener. Thoroughly paraphrase the ways of becoming a better empathic and critical
    listener, ensuring you cite the source. From the case study, identify one character who
    needs assistance in becoming a better empathic or critical listener. Explain what he/she
    needs to do to accomplish this goal, using evidence from the textbook and case study to
    support your answer.

 Please type your response here:



                       COM 206 Case Study Two, Question 3 – Mom, Dad, Meet Alex
Task Description: Student will answer questions using definitions from the text and details from the case
study, as well as original examples, paraphrases and insights in a manner that reflects the ability to
competently apply communication concepts to a specific situation.
Expected Outcomes                            Comments                                   Points        Points
                                                                                        Possible Earned
Thoroughly paraphrased ways of                                                          18
becoming a better empathic and critical
listener. Identified a character in the case
study who needs assistance in becoming
better empathic or critical listener and
explained what is needed to accomplish
that goal. Response shows connections
among a variety of course concepts and/or
extra examples.




                 COM 206 Case Study 2 Overall Evaluation – Mom, Dad, Meet Alex CS 2

 Task Description: Student will answer questions using definitions from the text and details from the Case
 Study, as well as original examples, paraphrases and insights in a manner that reflects the ability to
 competently apply communication concepts to a specific situation.

 Expected Outcomes Overall

 All ideas and definitions from the text are                                                 8
 properly cited.

 The paper is free of proofreading errors in                                                 8
 spelling, grammar, punctuation, and
 sentence structure.

 63-70 points = Excellent                      Late Penalty: (-7 points for each                     -
                                               day late)

                                                          4
56-62 points = Competent    Total Score:   70

49-55 points = Adequate

42-48 points = Needs Work

41 points or below= Poor




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