COM 310 Family Communication

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Spring, 2012

Dr. Marcia Dixson

Office: NF 230B Office Phone: 481-6558

Office hours: M 1:00 - 2:30; W 4:30- 6:00 and happily by appt.


Family Communication: Cohesion and Change. Eighth Edition by Kathleen M. Galvin, Carma L. Bylund, and Bernard J. Brommel, Boston: Pearson Publishing, 2011. (Available at Follett's Bookstore).

Objectives for COM 310 Family Communication

At the end of this semester, you should expect to be able to do the following:

1. Comprehend various theoretical approaches to understanding family relationships and behavior.

2. Be able to apply family theory and concepts to gain greater understanding of specific family situations

3. Comprehend the diversity of family structures and organization.

4. Be able to effectively create mediated communication messages (email, blogs, webpages)

*5.Evaluate interpersonal and/or group interactions

*6.Communicate competently (effectively, appropriately, and ethically) interpersonally and/or in groups.

*Portfolio Requirement for Communication Majors: If you major in either or both of Interpersonal and Organizational Communication or Media and Public Communication via the 2009-2010 or later bulletin, you are required to create a portfolio as part of the sequence of required one-credit classes: COM 120, COM 308, and COM 480. This class offers many opportunities to fulfill these objectives. Be sure to save your work (blogs posts w/comments, mini-projects, midterm, final and research project) for your portfolio!

Teaching Philosophy:

My job here is to facilitate your learning; to provide you with a variety of opportunities to learn the content of this course. To that end, I am generally willing to work with any student who is willing to work. But, I expect you to work. If you do your part; i.e., read and consider the material, take readiness assessment tests, participate in family projects, and complete assignments thoroughly and on time, I absolutely enjoy doing my part. If you have questions or concerns about the class, assignments or content, you should consult with me about those either in person or via email. If you have technical problems, you should contact me or the help desk (x16030) immediately. My services as a facilitator and guide (and occasional technical consultant) come with the tuition you paid for the course, do not be shy about using them!

Class policies:

Late work: While I do accept late work, each day (including weekends) late is subject to up to 20% reduction in points (which means after five days, you have pretty much earned a 0). If you are having a technical problem, have questions about the assignment, or are having other issues which make it difficult for you to complete the assignment on time, always let me know before the assignment is due. Plan for technological obstacles, i.e, if your computer or internet at home goes down, what can you do (get to campus, go to a library etc.). Waiting until the last minute, almost assures you will have technical problems!

Paper formatting: Unless otherwise noted, all papers should be typed, double-spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point font with a cover page with your name only on the cover page.

My availability: I check my email multiple times a day during the week. I check it once or twice on Saturday. I do not do email on Sunday as that is reserved for family, football and, having some down time. So, you can expect me to get back to you fairly quickly, but not necessarily within a half hour or so. Remember, you can also see me during office hours.

Civility expectations: While you are not required to agree with everyone's opinions, you are required to respect them in class (including in class discussions, email, blogs etc.). However, because you have an opinion, does not mean it is a valid opinion! Back up your statements with facts, direct experiences, concepts from the text, etc. Use appropriate netiquette: no flaming, respect each other, etc. Given that competent communication (which includes appropriate and ethical) is part of this course, this kind of incompetent communication can be expected to affect your grade.

Academic Misconduct: Academic Misconduct, including plagiarism (using other people's ideas/words and not giving them credit thus implying the work is your own original work), is taken very seriously at any learning institution. It is taken very seriously in this class. Please be aware of what academic misconduct is and the potential consequences (including dismissal from the university) of such behavior.

Note: Please be aware that simply because I know what text you are referring to is not an excuse to fail to cite your sources, any time you use a source (be it in a paper, an oral presentation, or the blogs) always cite your sources (in oral presentations, cite author/date and then hand in the full citation).

Divorcing a family member:

Steps to divorcing a family member:

1) Meet as a family - let me know about this issue

  • Talk about behavior  that is problematic:
  • Be specific about behaviors not attitudes etc.
  • Remember you don’t have to be friends or like each other, just work together
  • Create a plan that everyone can agree to – write it, sign it, give me a copy

2) If that plan is violated or other issues arise, come to me - I confer the "divorce"

Grading Breakdown:






Helpful places on campus:

Services for Students with a Disability: If you have a disability or acquire one and want to find out about what special services and accommodations are available, you may contact Services for Students with Disabilities in WALB 113.
Writing Center: Can help you with general writing problems or specific assignments (including APA research papers) in Helmke Library, Second Floor.
CASA (Center for Academic Support and Advancement): Offers many kinds of services to students including tutoring in Helmke Library, Second Floor.

Helmke Library offers research librarians who can help you find what you need.

Structure of the course (click on links for information):

Six units - each unit requires:

1) RAT (readiness assessment test): generally on the first Monday of the unit (15% of course grade)

to be sure you understand the basic concepts from the reading before we apply them;

2) Family analysis blog: due by the first Friday of the unit (15% of course grade)

Addition to family analysis blog (inidividual assignments) : This blog is designed to help you learn to apply the concepts you are learning. You will be asked to analyze a specific family. You should choose a family you know well; one about which you have fairly indepth information. You are not required to use your own family but you may certainly do so - you can change the names, if you like :).

If you choose not to use a real family, you may use a fictional family, be sure it is a book, TV show or movie that gives you plenty of information about how the family functions.

Blog analyses need to be added by the first Friday of a unit

Requirements (250 - 500 words):

Pay attention to tips for writing for blogs

10 Tips for Writing Blogs

10 Writing Mistakes

Making your Blog Scannable

Technlogy tip: Consider writing your blog in a word processing program and then cutting and pasting it into the Blog in Blackboard. That way if Blackboard goes down or simply loses your work or you forget to save, it's an easy fix.

Blog comments: You are expected to make a substantive comment on the blogs posted by your family members by the second Wednesday of each unit - you should comment by giving them ideas for improving their blogs before they are graded (either in terms of formatting or content), offering your own interpretations/experiences of what they are talking about, asking questions about their content, and/or supporting or refuting their conclusions (cannot refute their experience). Note: simply agreeing etc. does not count as a substantive comment;

3) Four group mini-projects (due by the second Wednesday of the unit) (20% of course grade)

more information to follow in each unit. Grading rubric

Some useful help with creating a webpage:

Guide (with movies) to creating a webpage using Netscape (only off campus)

Guide (with movies) to creating a webpage using Nvu (on or off campus)

Guide to writing for the web

4) Participation (10% of course grade)

Each unit will include in-class discussions, exercises and/or activities. You are expected to be here, prepared, and engaged.


Family Research Project (20% of course grade)

Final and Midterm (20% of course grade)

Tentative Agenda

Due in class Due online

9 Monday


11 Wednesday

Decide mini-projects and work on unit one mini-project

Consider Family Research Project


16 Monday

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - no class  

18 Wednesday

Unit One: RAT  

20 Friday

  Unit One Blogs Due

23 Monday

Individual assignments: "American Families" due  

25 Wednesday

Unit One Mini- projects due:

Big League, Chords, Springer

Blog comments due

27 Friday

  Blog revisions due

30 Monday

Unit Two: RAT  


Topics for Family Research projects due; In-class exercise; time to work on mini-projects  

3 Friday

  Unit Two Blogs Due

6 Monday

In class exercise  

8 Wednesday

Unit Two Mini-projects due:

All in the Family, Big League, Chords, Fergusons, Springe

Blog comments due

10 Friday

  Blog revisions due

13 Monday

Unit Three: RAT  

15 Wednesday


17 Friday

Unit Three Blogs Due

20 Monday

Social construction of marital reality assignment  

22 Wednesday

Unit Three Mini-projects due:

All in the Family, Chords, Fergusons, Springer

Blog comments due

24 Friday

  Blog revisions due

27 Monday

Midterm: Units One - Three  

29 Wednesday

Family Research Project Work Day

Due: Research question, plan for who is responsible for what and by when (intermediate dates, including what will be accomplished by March 28).


5 & 7

Spring Recess  

12 Monday

Unit Four: RAT  

14 Wednesday


16 Friday

  Unit Four Blogs Due

19 Monday


21 Wednesday

Unit Four Mini-projects due: Big League, Chords, Blog comments due

23 Friday

  Blog revisions due

26 Monday

Unit Five: RAT  

28 Wednesday

Family Research Project Work Day - instructor at a conference  

30 Friday

  Unit Five Blogs Due

2 Monday

Paper Due: Analyzing the family stress in Gloria Steinem's Ruth's Song (Because she could not sing it)  

4 Wednesday

  Blog comments due

6 Friday

  Blog revisions due

9 Monday

Unit Five Mini-projects due: All in the Family, Big League, Fergusons  

11 Wednesday

Unit Six: RAT

13 Friday

  Unit Six Blogs Due

16 Monday

Family functioning analysis: Discusson of analysis

18 Wednesday

Unit Six Mini-projects due: All in the Family, Springer, Fergusons Blog comments due

20 Friday

  Blog revisions due

23 Monday

Research Project Presentations: Big League, Chords, Springer  

25 Wednesday

Research Project Presentations: All in the Family, Fergusons  

May 4 Friday

  Final Blog Posts Due by 1:00 pm