COM 480 SENIOR SEMINAR IN ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
Dr. Greg H. Gardner
146 Cornell Social Sciences
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COURSE PHILOSOPHY AND PURPOSE
This course is a capstone experience that provides an end-of-the-major opportunity for you to
conceptualize and more fully understand the theories, skills, methods, and applications of
organizational communication and to shape them into a working body of knowledge that will enhance
your life-long learning.
The purposes of this senior-level seminar are two-fold:
• To understand how knowledge of organizational communication will be useful to you in your
personal and career lives and for the rest of your life; and
• To demonstrate the abilities you have learned as a student of organizational communication
including the abilities to write clearly, speak well, listen proficiently, and think lucidly.
• Wood, Julie T. But I Thought You Meant: Misunderstandings in Human Communication.
Mountain View, CA. Mayfield Publishing Company. 1998.
• Dues, Michael and Mary Brown. Boxing Plato’s Shadow: An Introduction to the Study of
Human Communication. New York City, NY. McGraw-Hill. 2004.
We will discuss selected chapters from the Wood textbook and the entirety of the Dues and
Brown book. You must read all of these carefully and be prepared for a spirited discussion.
In addition, you will select one question from the “Reflecting on This Chapter” section of each
chapter of the Wood text and write a one page, double spaced, response to the question.
This course is graded credit/no credit, and no letter grades are given. All of the above
requirements must be met to receive credit for the course:
• regularly attend class meetings
• read and participate in a discussion of both texts.
• fully participate in all class discussions
• present well framed contributions of fact
• successfully complete and submit all papers and projects on-time
All of the above requirements must be successfully completed in order to receive credit for
the course. If any of the above requirements are not met, you will not receive credit for
I fully understand that Holt students occasionally have special business and personal situations
that necessitate missing class, and I am usually tolerant of such situations. In general, attendance
is absolutely expected. More than two unexcused absences will result in a grade of no credit.
Active and intelligent participation by all members of the class is both necessary and expected.
The Department of Communication works to provide a supportive and productive learning
environment. High ethical standards and a clear sense of academic responsibility are essential to
this environment and provide great value to the individual, the college, and the greater community.
These standards are designed to protect and respect the rights of all people. Clearly, we
strongly believe that academic honesty is very important.
The Rollins College Academic Honesty Policy clearly outlines the fundamental obligations and
responsibilities of faculty and students at Rollins when it states:
“As an academic community, Rollins College holds ethical conduct to be inseparable from wisdom.
Rollins students and faculty affirm the inherent value and social utility of truthfulness and respect
for the rights of other individuals and the community. The students and faculty affirm the value
of academic honesty and accept the responsibility to present only work that is genuinely theirs.
Rollins students and faculty shall neither commit nor tolerate cheating, plagiarism, or any other
form of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty is defined as representing another's work as
one's own, active complicity in such falsification, or violating test conditions.”
COM 480 ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY:
A single instance of academic dishonesty as defined above will result in a failing grade for the
course, and notification will be sent to the Dean of the Hamilton Holt School. Additional penalties
may include suspension or dismissal from the college.
I’ll be using Blackboard (Bb) in our class for a number of purposes. You need to become familiar
with Bb in order to use it effectively as a learning tool. You must check Bb regularly in order to
stay current in the course. Bb will be used for the following:
• Posting of course syllabus and class announcements
• E-journal entries. You must submit five (5) e-journal entries during the term. These are
due on or before 12:00 noon Wednesday of the week submitted. You may post only one per
week. They should be approximately one page in length, and they must reflect your reaction
to the class discussion or readings of the previous meeting. I will respond briefly to your
entries as well as give you credit for the assignment. These will be submitted in Bb’s
Digital Drop Box. The heading on each entry should be “John Doe (your name). Section 1
(or 2). First (or second or third or fourth or fifth) e-journal entry.”
• Ask The Professor (this is an area for you to ask questions related to the course—I will
respond within 24 hours—take advantage of this free service!)
CONTRIBUTIONS OF FACT:
These contributions take the form of research that is directly related to the reading material
from our texts. We will begin most weeks with these weekly contributions, and each student
will stand and share your contribution with the class. Discussion will follow each contribution.
You should have one contribution for Boxing Plato’s Shadow, and one contribution for each chapter
that we read in But I Thought You Meant: Misunderstandings in Human Communication.
PROGRAM SURVEY INSTRUMENT:
This assignment prepares you to analyze your undergraduate education as an Organizational
Communication major at Rollins College.
The Program Survey Instrument is intended to allow you the opportunity to analyze your
undergraduate education and its effects on you by completing a questionnaire designed to analyze
and explain these attitudes. You should answer the questions in bulleted form. We will then
discuss your responses together as a class.
At least one large paragraph should be devoted to each question. The length of this paper should
be 7-10 double-spaced pages.
TOPICAL PAPER ON “THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN MY
This assignment prepares you to analyze what you have learned in your undergraduate education.
You will write a paper on the topic “The Most Important Things I Have Learned in My
This paper is meant to be a “big picture” examination of your college career and should represent
the most important things you have learned in your college education. I will have a writing
workshop with each student before the submission of you paper.
In past classes, students have discussed issues such as: learning to fully appreciate your
education, gaining an understanding of the value of studying the liberal arts, learning about the
importance of communication in our society, developing a taste for life long learning, and acquiring
a repertoire of useful communication skills. The length of this paper should be 7-10 double-
THE ORAL PRESENTATION AND RHETORICAL ANALYSIS
You will be responsible for choosing a specific group of adults (not children) and delivering a well
researched and well delivered oral presentation to this audience. This is considered a speech—not a
business presentation--so audience interaction during the speech should be limited if at all.
The time limit for the speech will be dictated by the occasion, but it must be a minimum of 10 minutes
in length. The speech must be original and created solely for this assignment.
A representative sample of audiences used by former students in this course includes the following:
nursing homes, children's wings of hospitals, civic organizations, government meetings, and church
meetings. Under most circumstances, you may not use an audience comprised of children, friends,
relatives or neighbors. Co-workers may be used as the audience if the subject matter is not what you
might usually speak to them about. Similarly, you may not give a speech to an audience if the speech is
a normal part of your job. The audience and the occasion should be approved in advance by speaking
with me or by email.
Following the presentation, you will write a very thorough rhetorical analysis of your presentation. An
important part of this assignment is that you must research the following ten criteria so you fully
understand and can write intelligently on each one as you complete your analysis:
• an introduction that introduces the assignment, your personal feelings/qualms/concerns about
the assignment both before and after completion, and an explanation of the logistics of the
presentation (when and where did the assignment take place, how was the appointment to speak
arranged, who was your contact person, what was the room set-up at the event, how many people
were present, etc.)
• subject matter/topic of the speech
• speech purpose (informative or persuasive)
• audience analysis
• organizational method used for the speech
• language used in the speech
• invention (logical, emotional, and ethical proofs) in the speech
• vocal communication used in the delivery of the speech
• nonverbal communication used in the delivery of the speech
• a conclusion that focuses on a thorough explanation of specific areas of quality, areas in need of
improvement, and specifically what you learned from the assignment.
The length of this paper should be 7-10 double-spaced pages. You must include a copy of the
speech and audience feedback forms (if appropriate) in appendices to the paper.
Finally, you must list the complete name, organization, title, address, and telephone number
of your contact person on the cover sheet of your rhetorical analysis.
THE ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION AUDIT
You must complete an organizational communication audit that should be personal, in-depth, and
indicative of what you have learned as an Organizational Communication major in the Hamilton Holt
School of Rollins College. You should remember that this course is an end-of-the-major-experience and
your work should be a culmination of your undergraduate education.
You will conduct an analysis of the communication culture at the organization where you now work
or an organization where you previously worked with recommendations for improvement. The
analysis will answer the following questions of importance to any organization:
• What are the history, mission, vision, structure, and products/services of the corporation?
• How would you define, explain, and evaluate the communication and managerial cultures of
• What ethics and values does the corporation hold as important, and in what ways does the
corporation succeed or fail in upholding them?
• How effectively does the corporation use communication technologies to communicate
within and outside the organization?
• What does the future hold for this corporation?
The length of this paper is should be 10-15, double spaced, pages in length.
PRIVATE EXIT INTERVIEW
Each student will have the opportunity to participate in an exit interview with the director of the
Organizational Communication program. During this time, you will have the opportunity to discuss
your undergraduate education, concerns and joys you have experienced, your career, your future
educational pursuits, and questions you have about any and all subject matters.
As the instructor/learner in this course, I have a number of expectations of you, many of which
were outlined in the earlier parts of this syllabus. As a student/learner in this class, you are
entitled to several things as well. For example, you are entitled to know that:
• because you believe that my high expectations are an indication of my respect for you
and your capacity to work at a high level of excellence, you are entitled to a rigorous
learning environment that allows you to learn and master more information and skills
than you ever thought possible;
• because I want to be fair to everyone and with the knowledge that, in the world beyond
college, workers are expected to meet deadlines even in the absence of ideal
circumstances, you are entitled to be in a classroom where everyone has read the
material ahead of time, is as prepared as they can possibly be for every class, and
submits work on time every time;
• because I understand that learning goes on inside and outside of the classroom, you are
entitled to a course in which I’ll be available to you before class, after class, or in
prearranged appointments and that I will use that time wisely and constructively;
• because I recognize that college students must communicate clearly in both oral and
written communication, you are entitled to a course where papers will not be accepted
as passing that contain significant grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors;
• because I will assign evaluated work throughout the term in a variety of venues, you are
entitled to a classroom where you are assured that I will treat your work seriously and
will respond to it as the serious endeavor of a serious student.
• because I want to be a part of your intellectual growth and because I enjoy the play of
ideas, you are entitled to a classroom all students are punctual, come to class prepared,
ask questions. initiate conversations, and generally engage everyone in lively intellectual
COM 480 SENIOR SEMINAR IN ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
AUGUST 26 Introduction to course and each other
SEPTEMBER 2 Present and submit Program Survey Instrument about your experiences in
the Organizational Communication Program of the Hamilton Holt School of
Rollins College. Reading: Wood, (to the reader xii), Chapters 1 and 2
SEPTEMBER 9 INDIVIDUAL WRITING WORKSHOP
SEPTEMBER 16 Present and submit topical paper “The Most Important Things I Have
Learned as an Organizational Communication Major at Rollins College.”
Reading: Wood, Chapter 3 and 4
SEPTEMBER 23 Discussion on the question “Why Will a Knowledge of Organizational
Communication Be Important in My Future?” Our guest speakers will be
members of the full-time and adjunct faculty of the Department of
SEPTEMBER 30 Discussion of guest speakers from the Department of Communication
Reading: Wood, Chapters 6 and 7
OCTOBER 7 Reading: Boxing Plato’s Shadow
Reading: Wood, Chapters 8 and 10
OCTOBER 14 Present and submit rhetorical analyses
Reading: Wood, Chapters 11 and 14
OCTOBER 21 Present and submit rhetorical analyses
Reading: Wood, Chapter 15 and 17
OCTOBER 28 ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION CONVENTION
NOVEMBER 4 Present and submit the organizational audit
Reading: Wood, Chapters 18 and 19
NOVEMBER 11 NATIONAL COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION CONVENTION
NOVEMBER 18 Present and submit the organizational audit
Reading: Wood, Chapter 21
NOVEMBER 25 THANKSGIVING
DECEMBER 2 Exit Interview
DECEMBER 9 Exit Interview