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5710 Syllabus Spring 06


									                                 COMMUNICATION 5710
                               COMMUNICATION RESEARCH
                                      Spring 2006
                                 MW 9:40-11:35 MBH 112

Professor: Connie Bullis
Office: LNCO 2615
Phone: 581-6664
Office Hours: W 11:45-1:30, and by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Zhen Sun
Office: LNCO 2930 #D
Phone: 581-7998
Office Hours: TTh 12:00-2:00, and by appointment

Course Purpose
This is an advanced course designed to build on basic knowledge students should have of
social science research methods and statistical analyses learned in Communication 3710.
Communication 3710 is a prerequisite for this course. In a society that values
information derived from social science research, it is important for college graduates to
be able to understand, evaluate, derive conclusions from, and conduct social science
research. This course is designed to enhance your understanding of social science
research. It focuses on the logic and conduct of social science research. Specifically, we
will focus on how to find and evaluate information, the primary methods and their uses,
procedures and guidelines used to assure reliability and validity, research design,
descriptive and inferential statistical analyses of data, and the research report. This is a
service learning course in which you will have the opportunity to apply research skills to
help meet a community service organization need. You will design, conduct, and report a
service research study.

Required Reading:
Hocking, J. E., Stacks, D. W., & McDermott, S. T. (2003). Communication Research (3rd
Ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

A set of readings available through Marriott Library reserve.

University Administrative Dates:
        Last day to drop (delete) term and first session classes   Wed, Jan 18

        Last day to add classes                                    Mon, Jan 23
        Last day to elect CR/NC or audit for term and first
        session classes                                       Mon, Jan 23

        Tuition payment due                                   Mon, Jan 23

        Last day to withdraw from term length classes         Fri, March 3

University ADA Policy:
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodations be
provided for students with physical, sensory, cognitive, systemic, learning, and
psychiatric disabilities. Please contact the instructor or teaching assistant of this course at
the beginning of the semester to discuss any such accommodations for this course.

Course Policies
Readings and assignments should be completed prior to the beginning of class on the day
listed. Please come to class prepared.

Academic dishonesty is defined in the student code of behavior. It includes such
behaviors as cheating on tests and including plagiarized material on assignments. It will
be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible as outlined in the student code.

Exams need to be taken only as scheduled. If there is an extreme, uncontrollable, and
documented situation that requires a student to miss an exam, contact us prior to the
scheduled exam to request an exception to this policy.

Attendance is necessary to fully benefit from and contribute to this course. Please plan to
attend each class from beginning to end. Each absence beyond 4 will result in a deduction
of 5 points per absence. Documentation should be provided to the instructors for absences
due to official university matters or illness.

Electronic gadgets such as cell phones and pagers are prohibited during all class sessions.
Please turn these devices off prior to the beginning of class.

Late assignments will result in a reduction of 20% of possible points for each calendar
day, or portion thereof, late.

Questions or disputes related to grades. Contact professor and teaching assistant: Please
contact us as soon as possible but no later than two weeks after a question arises
regarding a grade on a particular assignment during the semester. (See student code)

Assignments and Grading
Homework assignments afford the opportunity to learn and apply course material through
hands-on practice with course concepts.
5 assignments, 10 points each
Three objective tests will test extent to which the basic course material is mastered. Tests
will test knowledge and understanding of assigned reading and material presented in-
class through all activities including lectures, discussions, video presentations, exercises,
guest speakers, etc.
3 tests, 25 points each

Reflection Essays
Two reflection essays will provide students the opportunity to provide written evidence
of how course work is integrated.
2 essays, 10 points each

Daily Participation
5 points

50 points total (Prospectus=20 points, Final Paper and Presentation=30 points)
Project prospectus includes a problem statement, rationale for the study, statement of
research questions and/or hypotheses, study design, sampling plan, measures, and data
analysis plan. Final Paper includes the prospectus sections as well as the results of your
data analyses and conclusions.

Final grades will be calculated by adding total points accumulated from the homework,
tests, essays, and projects. Grades will be assigned based on total points.
180-200 = A
160-179 = B
140-159 = C
120-139 = D

                                    Course Calendar
January 9 Introduction to 5710

January 11 Introduction to Research
           Chapters 1 & 2, p. 396-397, p. 413-414

January 16 Martin Luther King Holiday—No Class

January 18 Research and the Research Report
           Chapters 3, 4 and 17

January 23 Homework #1 Due
January 25 Measurement
           Chapter 6, Reserve Reading #1

January 30 Project Introduction

February 1 Measurement
            Chapter 7, Reserve Reading #2

February 6 Chapter 9 (pp. 204-213)
           Reflection #1 Due

February 8   Homework #2 Due

February 13 Unit 1 Test
            Project Work

                           UNIT II RESEARCH METHODS

February 15 Survey Research
             Chapter 11, p. 398-399, 408-410

February 20 Presidents’ Day Holiday—No Class

February 22 Sampling, Content Analysis
            Chapter 10, Chapter 8

February 27 Homework #3 Due
         Introduction to Experimentation

March 1 Experimentation
           Chapters 12, 13, p. 397-398

March 6 Homework #4 Due

March 8 Unit II Test

March 13 – 15 Spring Break-- No Class

March 20 Project Work


March 22 Descriptive Statistics
           Chapter 14
March 27   Project Prospectus Due
           Laboratory: Meet in Marriott Library Room 1735

March 29 Inferential Statistics
         Chapter 15, Reserve Reading #3

April 3    Statistics Lab: Meet in Marriott Library Room 1735

April 5 Project Work

April 10 Homework #5 Due
          Laboratory: Meet in Marriott Library Room 1735

April 12 Review and wrap up of Unit III, Project Work: Marriott Library Room 1735

April 17 Unit 3 Test

April 19 The Research Report: Meet in Marriott Library Room 1735
          Chapter 17

April 24 Project Work: Meet in Marriott Library Room 1735

April 26 : Project Work: Meet in Marriott Library Room 1735

May 1, 8:00 A.M.: Projects Due

Reflection #2 Due

May 1, 8:00-10:00 A.M.: Project Presentations

Chapter 1 -3:
1. Specify a communication concept of interest to you (and one that has not been
included in 5710 class readings or discussions).
2. Write a stipulative definition of your concept.
3. Write an operational definition of your concept.
4. Using your concept from #1, 2, & 3 above, give a good question or hypothesis that
could be studied through social science methods.
5. Based on what you have studied so far in this course, how would you proceed to
conduct a social science study to answer your question? Be as clear and specific as
6. Describe clearly how the study would answer the question you posed. What would be
learned from the study? i.e. How would your study contribute to knowledge about your
7. Consider each ethical issue addressed in Chapter 3. For each issue, explain how your
study plan addresses the issue or explain why the issue is not relevant to your study.

8. Given your concept from #1 above, provide a question that could NOT be studied
through a social science approach but could be studies through a humanistic approach.
9. How would you proceed if you were to conduct this humanistic study?

Chapter 4 & 17:
1. Identify a communication concept you would like to study (different from concepts
discussed in class but possibly the same concept as that identified in #1 above. Using the
Marriott Library, identify three databases that would be useful to use to identify past
research on this concept. List these databases.
    2. List the keyword(s) you use to search the databases. Shift the search terms until
        you are able to conduct a search that generates between 15-30 sources. Give the
        initial keywords and the keyword/s that resulted from this process as well as the
    3. Retrieve one of the empirical articles identified. Write a summary of the article,
        including a summary of each of the sections.

Chapter 6
   1. Identify a communication concept/variable (not identified in 5710 readings or
       discussions) that interests you and provide an operational definition for the
       variable. Next, create three ways in which the variable could be measured: a
       nominal, ordinal, and interval (or ratio) level measure. Which of your three
       measures is strongest in face validity? Explain.
   2. Using an empirical article you, examine the measures used. What were the
       variables of interest? How were they measured? What evidence of reliability was
       presented for each variable? What evidence of validity was presented? Evaluate
       the reliability and validity of each mkeasure.

Chapter 7 (Please use this as an opportunity to develop your thinking on the project)
   1. Create a measure that includes 5 items to measure each of the factors of interest to
       what you want to measure.
   2. What open-ended questions would be useful?
   3. If one were to proceed through using unobtrusive measures, what might one use
       as a meaningful unobtrusive measure?
   4. If one were to proceed through observation, what might one use?

   Chapter 9
   1. Plan an in depth interview. First identify your purpose. Next, write an interview
   schedule that could be used. Third, conduct an interview. Fourth, interpret your
   results in light of your purpose. Finally, evaluate your interview schedule and the
   conduct of your interview. Specifically, what worked well to accomplish your
   purpose? What would you change if you were conducting more interviews for the
   same purpose?

  Chapter 8
  1. Identify a specific research question or hypothesis that could be addressed
     through content analysis. What is the key variable or variables? In order to
     measure your variables, what data would you examine? Given your question,
     what unit of analysis would be useful to you in carrying out the implied study?
     How would you select your sample? What set of categories would you use?
  2. Carry out a small pilot study to determine how your plan will work. Describe the
     pilot study. How would you revise your plan based on your pilot study?

  Chapter 10
  1. Flip a coin 10 times. How many times would you expect it to result in heads
     based on probability theory? How many times did it come up heads? Try this a
     second time. What results did you find?
  2. Determine the sample sizes for the following studies: A) a national study of
     adults’ beliefs about the importance of communication with 95% confidence and
     5% error, 2) a study of University of Utah students’ beliefs with 95% confidence
     and 5% error.
  3. Identify a specific sampling procedure you might follow to conduct the following
     study: You are curious to know whether Utah and Colorado residents differ in
     their beliefs about the ethics of advertising cigarettes.

  Chapter 11
  1. Design a feasible sampling plan for a survey on the healthy workplace, including
       a statement of the population, sampling frame, sampling method, number of
       participants. Include a rationale for each element and a statement of limitations.
  2. Design a survey instrument that could be used in the class project. Provide a
       rationale for your choices.
   3. Identify and attach a survey instrument. Evaluate the surevey instrument. First,
  list and describe criteria to be used to evaluate the instrument. Then, evaluate the
  instrument using the criteria. Identify which criteria are fully met and how the
  instrument could be improved to meet each of the criteria not fully met.


  Chapter 12, 13
  1. Summarize a research article that describes a true experiment. Give a thorough
  summary of each section of the article.

  2. Identify a hypothesis of interest to you that could be answered through an
  experiment. Give a research plan including your experimental design, participants,
  procedures, how your variables will be measured and/or manipulated, your
   procedures, how your plan will result in the findings you seek, and limitations in your


Chapters 14 & 15

1. Data will be available for you to compute the following statistics. You will need to
compute each statistic, showing your computational work as well as your final statistic.
   1. Measures of central tendency: mean, median, mode
   2. Measures of dispersion: variance, standard deviation, range
   3. z scores
   4. Univariate chi-square
   5. Crosstabs, bivariate chi-square
   6. Independent samples t-test
   7. Oneway anova

2. Data will be available for you to analyze with the following statistics. You will need to
select the appropriate variables and pose an appropriate question or hypothesis to
accomplish each of the following statistics. For each analysis, give the research question
or hypothesis. Next, include the output. Third, interpret the output, describing what it
means. Finally, provide an answer to the research question or hypothesis.
    1. Frequencies for computed scale scores
    2. Histogram
    3. Measures of central tendency
    4. Measures of dispersion
    5. Crosstabs
    6. Scattergram
    7. Chi-square
    8. Contingency coefficient
    9. Pearson r
    10. Cronbach’s alpha
    11. t-test for independent samples
    12. Oneway anova and appropriate post hoc test
    13. Factorial anova

1. What are the reasons for conducting research?
2. What are the ground rules for conducting research?
3. What is Research?
4. What is the goal of conducting research?

Chapter 1
1. What do the authors mean by information-processing?
2. Why do the authors claim information processing is important?
3. What do the authors mean by communication research?
4. What are some basic things all methods of communication inquiry have in common?
5. Why are definitions important?
6. What is a stipulative definition? How may stipulative definitions be evaluated?
7. What is an operational definition?
8. What do questions of definition facilitate?
9. How is scientific research different from historical research?
10. What are questions of value? How are they different from questions of fact?
11. What are criteria for evaluating questions of fact?
12. What are questions of policy?
13. What is epistemology?
14. What are four ways in which individuals come to hold the beliefs they hold?
15. For questions of fact about things that are observable in the world, which way of
knowing is best?
16. How does science proceed?
17. How does science enable people to know if they are wrong?
18. What are three features of science? (p. 20)
19. How do humanities-oriented research and science-oriented research differ?

Chapter 2
1. What does the scientist want to do? What is the scientist interested in?
2. Describe the ideographic model of explanation. What kind of study might an
ideographic explanation call for?
3. What definition of the term ―empirical‖ do the authors give?
4. What is the role of theory in social science?
5. How are scientific and humanistic research similar? How are they different?
6. What is a theory? How is theory used in research?
7. Describe the four purposes of scientific research.
8. Describe independent variables, dependent variables, and how they are related to one
9. How do precise definitions aid in scientific research?
10. What are hypotheses?
11. How are hypotheses and theories related?
12. Describe operational definitions.
13. How are manipulated and measured operational definitions different from one
14. How are deductive and inductive approaches distinct from oneanother?
15. How is science self-correcting?
16. How does the risky shift example illustrate the self-corrective characteristic of
17. What kinds of questions are better addressed through humanistic inquiry?‖

Chapter 3
1. Define ethics.
2. What rules of scholarship do the authors list and describe?
3. What definition of plagiarism do the authors provide?
4. What are guidelines for identifying plagiarism?
5. Describe the ethical themes that the authors suggest should be considered as one plans
research with human subjects.
6. What are the principles included in the APA Code of Research Ethics?
7. Why is debriefing important? What are considerations that should be considered with
8. How does ethical appropriateness pertain to scientific research?
9. Summarize, in your own words, the NCA credo for ethical communication.

Chapter 4
1. What does it mean to say that all research begins with a theoretical statement derived
from some literature review?
2. In social science research, what is the function of the literature review?
3. Compare and contrast primary and secondary sources.
4. Which type of source is preferable?
5. List a major plus and major minus of using the web for research.
6. What is the literature review?
7. What are the components of a literature review?
8. What are seven benefits of a literature review?
9. Compare and contrast a bibliography with an annotated bibliography

Chapter 6
1. What are operational definitions? How are they valuable in social science research?
2. What is measurement?
3. List, describe, and provide your own examples of the four levels of measurement.
4. Why do the authors recommend using interval and ratio levels of measurement when
5. Define reliability. How does an unreliable measure differ from a reliable measure?
6. How are systematic measurement and randomness related to one another?
7. What are the three sources of error influencing reliability?
8. Why do the authors suggest that researchers should try to control error as much as
9. What is meant by inter-coder reliability? What are the two noted ways to assess inter-
coder reliability?
10. What is meant by Measurement Item Reliability? What statistic is typically used to
compute measurement reliability on interval and ratio measures? What statistic is
typically used to compute measurement reliability on ordinal and nominal measures?
11. Why do the authors suggest that researchers should always report the reliability of the
measures used?
12. How can reliability be established for self administered questionnaires? What factors
may increase reliability in self administered questionnaires?
13. What level of reliability is acceptable? By what criterion is acceptability set? Under
what circumstances might a higher level be required?
14. How can reliability be established for interviews?
15. How can reliability be established for trained observers?
16. How is validity defined?
17. Describe and give your own example of each of the following:
Content Validity
Criterion-related validity
Construct validity
18. What does it mean to have reliability but not validity?
19. What does it mean to have both reliability and validity?

Chapter 7
1. What is a scale?
2. Explain intervening variables and their role in understanding relationships between
independent and dependent variables.
3. How are attitudes typically measured?
4. Explain the value of pilot tests.
5. Describe likert-type scales, Guttman scales, and semantic differential scales and their
main uses.
6. How is multidimensional scaling useful? What are the disadvantages?
7. Describe likert-type scales, Guttman scales, and semantic differential scales and their
main uses.
8. How is multidimensional scaling useful? What are the disadvantages?
9. Describe the following measurement techniques, including advantages and
disadvantages of each:
Open-ended questions
Unobtrusive measures/physical traces
10. Why is measurement important?

Chapter 8
1. Describe content analysis. For which purposes is it typically employed? In what
situations is it useful? What are advantages and disadvantages of content analysis?
2. What are the steps involved in conducting content analysis? Describe each in detail.
3. Compare and contrast manifest and latent content analysis.
4. List and describe the various kinds of sampling.
5. How is reliability relevant to content analysis?
6. How is inter-coder reliability determined?
7. How is validity relevant to content analysis? What are relevant sources of invalidity?

Chapter 9
   1. List, describe, compare and contrast the three main qualitative methods.
   2. In what situation would each method be most useful?
   3. What steps would be taken in conducting research using each method?
   4. What are the advantages and limitations of each method?
   5. Discuss triangulation. What does it mean? When is it useful? How is it

Chapter 10
1. How is sampling relevant to social science research?
2. Understand the terms parameter, census, universe, sampling, random sampling,
sampling frame.
3. What does probability sampling mean? Why is it important to social science research?
4. What are the various types of probability and non-probability sampling procedures?
5. In general, when possible, what is the most desirable sampling procedure?
6. How are accuracy and confidence in sampling determined?
7. Explain how one determines a meaningful sample size.
8. What are the methods of sampling? Compare and contrast the methods.
9. What are the three primary ways of contacting respondents?

Chapter 11
1. What is learned through survey research?
2. What is the purpose of the procedures (or rules of observation) associated with survey
3. Compare and contrast surveys and polls
4. Explain how probability sampling pertains to survey research. (What does sampling
have to do with the confidence we have in results? Why is random sampling important?
What are three ways to accomplish random sampling?)
5. Describe the two main types of survey research designs. Under what situation is each
most useful? What are limitations (or disadvantages) of each?
6. Compare and contrast trend and cohort panel longitudinal designs.
7. Describe the three primary ways of collecting the data.
8. Compare and contrast the three primary ways of collecting the data., including
advantages and disadvantages.
9. Why is it important to maximize response rates?
10. What are ways to maximize response rate?
11. Why is it important that each respondent be presented with an identical structure of
identical questions?
12. Compare and contrast the use of interview schedules and questionnaires in survey
research. When is each appropriate? What are advantages and limitations of each?
13. What types of questions are commonly used in survey research?
14. What should be included in an introduction?
15. Once the introduction is complete and the survey begins, what kind of question
should be asked first?
16. What four considerations should guide the conduct of the body of the interview? How
should each be addressed in planning and conducting the survey?
17. When designing the wording of individual questions, what guidelines should be
followed? What are three potential mistakes?
18. How does the type of data collections guide and limit the types of questions?
19. How should demographic questions be introduced?
20. What are some problems with journalistic surveys?
21. How are persuasive and push poll surveys different from social science surveys?
22. How might a researcher pretest a questionnaire or interview schedule?
23. Why do the authors say that survey research cannot establish cause – effect

Chapter 12
   1. Describe the logic of the true experiment.
   2. Know the meanings of and importance of the following: independent variable,
       dependent variable, manipulated variable, measured variable, comparisons,
       control, spurious relationships, random assignment, extraneous relationships.
   3. What are the advantages of experiments compared with other methods?
   4. What is the classic experimental design? How would it operate? Give your own
       communication example of a hypothesis that could be examined through the
       classic experimental design.
   5. What are the criteria for establishing causation?
   6. How can experiments meet the criteria for establishing causation? Why can
       survey research not meet these criteria?
   7. What criteria define experimentation?
   8. What are the five steps typically involved in conducting an experiment?
   9. Explain what manipulation checks are and what they accomplish.
   10. What are limitations of laboratory experiments? Which of these might be
       removed by field experiments?

   Chapter 13
   1. How is a quasi-experiment different from an experiment?
   2. What are the main quasi-experimental designs?
   3. Explain internal validity and its importance to experimentation.
   4. List and describe the threats to internal validity.
   5. Which threats to internal validity are most relevant to which quasi-experimental
   6. Describe external validity and its relevance to experimental research.
   7. How is a factorial experiment different from a classic experiment?
   8. What is meant by main effects? Interaction effect?

   Part IV
   1. What do the authors recommend that you keep in mind as our aim in Part III?
   2. What objectives do the authors set out to meet?

Chapter 14
   1. Define statistics.
   2. Explain the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics
   3. How do categorical or nonparametric data differ from continuous or parametric
       data? Why does this difference matter in research?
   4. Explain how univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses differ.
   5. Describe what it means to code data. What procedures and steps are needed to
       code data?
6. What does a univariate frequency analysis accomplish? What can be learned from
    such an analysis?
7. What can be learned from a contingency table? What kind of data may most
    usefully be analyzed using a contingency table?
8. What three types of analysis are available by analyzing the crosstabs? What kind
    of data is most usefully analyzed with crosstabs?
9. What can researchers learn by examining a histogram? A frequency distribution?
10. Describe, compute, compare and contrast the three measures of central tendency.
    What kind of data is most appropriately analyzed with each of the measures?
11. Describe, compute, compare and contrast the three measures of dispersion.
12. Explain what z-scores and how they are valuable to researchers. Compute a z-
    score using project data.
13. Describe scattergrams, what kind of data may be most usefully analyzed through
    scattergrams, and what can be learned from scattergrams. Create and interpret a
    scattergram using project data.
14. Describe the Pearson r (Pearson correlation coefficient), what kind of data may be
    most usefully analyzed through the Pearson r, and what can be learned from its
15. Describe a correlation matrix and what can be learned from a correlation matrix.
16. How are the Kendall’s Tau-b and Spearman rho rank correlations different from
    the Pearson r correlation? Compute a nonparametric correlation using project
17. Why do the authors suggest that one cannot infer causation based on a correlation

Chapter 15 Inferential Statistics
1. Explain the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics.
2. When do researchers employ inferential statistics?
3. What does it mean to say that a result is statistically significant? How is
    probability relevant to this determination?
4. List, describe, and explain the steps involved in hypothesis testing. How is the
    null hypothesis used in this procedure? How is the critical value used during this
5. Explain the difference between one-tailed and two-tailed tests. In what situation
    would researchers rely on each?
6. Explain Type I and Type II errors.
7. Explain power as related to inferential statistics.
8. How does one calculate degrees of freedom?
9. List and explain the assumptions made about the sample and population when
    using inferential statistics.
10. How are parametric and nonparametric inferential statistics similar to and
    different from each other? What are the advantages and limitations of
    nonparametric statistics?
11. Explain the chi-square test, how it operates, and what can be learned from its use?
    What kind of data may be analyzed with a chi-square test? Compute a chi-square
    statistic using project data.
   12. Explain what is learned from the Coefficient of Contingency.
   13. Explain the logic of ANOVA. When is it a useful statistic? What is learned from
       its use? What do multiple comparison tests accomplish? Compute a Oneway
       ANOVA using project data.
   14. What are the assumptions associated with the t-test? Explain the logic of the t-test.
       How are the results useful? Compute an independent samples t-test using project
   15. How is a paired samples t-test similar to and different from an independent
       samples t-test?

Chapter 17
   1. What are the steps of the research process? What decisions are made at each
       step? What must be accomplished during each step?
   2. What are the sections of the typical academic research report? What should be
       included and accomplished within each section?
   3. What are the sections of the typical business report?
   4. According to the authors, what is the most important reason for writing the
       research report?
   5. What is the purpose of style sheets as they pertain to research reports?
   6. Know APA style enough that you could use it in your own research report.
   7. What criteria should be employed when planning audiovisuals to use with oral
       presentations of research reports?
   8. What should be included in a research proposal? (box 17.4)

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