George Mason University
COMM302: Introduction to Mass Communication
Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
COMM302 is an introductory course in the School of Communication designed to introduce students to many of the major communication theories that dominate the field. This class emphasizes developing an understanding of media effects, paying special attention to the relationships between the producers and consumers of mediated content. Further, we begin to explore how these relationships are evolving in a changing media landscape and the implications for democratic society.
COMM400: Communication Research Methods
Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014
COMM400 is a required course for any communication majors and is usually taken by upper-level students before graduation. The class is designed to help students obtain the basic knowledge and fundamental skills of communication research. This course emphasizes a “learning by doing” approach, with students working in groups to complete a semester-long project in which students design their own research project, collect and analyze data, and produce a final research presentation and report.
COMM432: Political Communication
COMM432 is an upper-level undergraduate course for students interested in how communication between members of the public, the media, advocacy groups, and politicians shape democratic society. It is a required course for the Political Communication concentration or minor. While the class covers political campaigns, it is more focused on the everyday interactions between citizens, the media, and political advocates in U.S. society and their implications for cultural, social, and policy issues. The course is a seminar-style course, emphasizing discussion and application of theories of political communication to real-world events.
COMM650: Graduate Communication Research Methods
Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016
COMM650 is a required course for all incoming graduate students and is usually taken in their first semester on campus. To better emphasize the importance of dual methods and triangulation, this course contains four modules: an introduction to communication research methods, a qualitative session, a quantitative session, and a concluding session, which culminates in students presenting the research project they have developed in groups all semester. Students are split into two groups, with half receiving qualitative methods instructions first and the other half receiving the quantitative method instruction before switching. I currently co-teach the class with Dr. Kevin Wright, who covers the qualitative sessions while I cover the quantitative sessions.
COMM750: Research Methods II
This graduate course picks up where COMM650 leaves off, focusing on developing a deeper understanding of quantitative methods. In the course, we pay special attention to the unique methodological concerns that arise when dealing with secondary data sources, including understanding its merits and limitations, new sampling methodologies, and variable measurement. The course emphasizes regression methods for analyzing large datasets.
COMM690: New Media and Democracy
Spring 2014, Spring 2017
This spring, I am again offering my graduate course in new media and democracy, which remains my favorite class to teach at Mason. In Spring of 2014 (when I introduced the class), I taught the course in a largely seminar style, leaving a lot of time for class discussion of the topics, and I plan on following a similar style in Spring of 2017. As part of the course, we considered how the changing media environment affects democratic functioning, with an emphasis on the increased role of audience agency in choosing their news sources, learning and contributing to issues of public debate and policy, and participating in the political process. We also touch on the ethical considerations that arise with these new opportunities, including privacy concerns, media literacy, and digital divides. It will be interesting to see just how much the course syllabus will change for Spring of 2017; stay tuned for updates.
The George Washington University
SMPA 2120: Public Opinion
A required class for all students in the political communication major in the Department of Media and Public Affairs, this three-credit course consisted mostly of seniors and juniors. This class dealt with the underpinnings of attitude formation and change, the process of political decision-making, and the role of the media and audience in these decisions.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
Journalism 614: Communication and Public Opinion
J614 was an upper-level theory course taken largely by juniors and seniors. Rather than emphasizing basic writing skills, in this class we focused on providing students exposure to a wide range of theories addressing how the public forms opinions about topics. The emphasis of the class was a group project, in which students selected a controversial issue, documented changes in opinion over time in that issue, and performed a content analysis to test whether some feature of media coverage is linked to their opinion trend.
Journalism 202: Mass Media Practices
Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009
J202 is the first class that students take upon admission to the Journalism school, and this six-credit class is among the most demanding at the University of Wisconsin. Students spend 6 hours a week in lab sessions of 15 students, in addition to lecture. The class focuses on developing the basic writing tools that journalists require – from writing broadcast news reports to longer print features, as well as press releases and strategy memos. This class emphasizes the range of skills that apply regardless of the format, platform, and medium in which a student works. The class also emphasized the learning of media tools, including InDesign, SoundStudio, and Dreamweaver. This class really helped me develop the ability to teach writing skills across a variety of platforms, as well as the programs needed for success in a new media environment. I also enjoyed helping students learn whether they preferred a more informational or a more persuasive approach, as students picked their focus for their degree.
Journalism 201: An Introduction to Mass Communication
Fall 2005, Spring 2006, Fall 2006, Spring 2007, Fall 2007, Spring 2008
This introductory journalism class was a prerequisite for any student considering applying to the Journalism school and a Comm-B requirement for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This class gave students an overview of the three major areas of communication: entertainment, public relations/advertising, and journalism. This class emphasized writing, oral presentation, and peer editing skills. I taught this class for six semester, under two different professors – four semesters in which TA’s had 3 sections of 50 minutes each, with a total of 48 students per semester, and 2 semesters in which TA’s taught 2 sections and 36 students, but each discussion was 75 minutes long.