Communication Studies 100W Program Description
The Department of Communication Studies bridges the social sciences and the humanities and incorporates a number of subject areas including communication pedagogy, environmental, intercultural, interpersonal, and organizational communication, and media, performance, and rhetorical studies. Our research takes a variety of forms including quantitative and qualitative surveys, ethnography, theatrical works, professional training (i.e., conflict resolution), and criticism. Each form in turn might encompass several subgenres, such as autoethnography and rhetorical history. The field as a whole accommodates a range of writing styles from the objective to the critical and the passive voice to the first person. It is not uncommon for communication journals to accept both APA and MLA or to require Chicago style.
To prepare students for work in the major and for post-graduate careers, COMM 100W emphasizes versatility, audience, and argumentative form. We approach “clarity” as a matter of style and ask students to make vocabulary, grammar, and syntax choices appropriate to the discourse community for which they are writing. To help students see the persuasive capacity of even the smallest details of their writing, we use short creative assignments designed to foreground one type of argumentative form or an element of written communication. One assignment, for instance, asks students to advance an opinion using empirically verifiable statements drawn from both scholarly research and their own biographical histories. Another assignment asks students to write about a subject using a pre-determined list of vocabulary. Longer assignments also have unconventional requirements. For instance, while students may be able to choose the citation style they prefer, they may be asked to incorporate informational and argumentative footnotes into an essay.
In general, we teach writing as a process of drafting, revision, and proofreading. We encourage students to develop a personalized and effective set of steps that they use when writing anything from emails to reports and essays. We incorporate peer review throughout COMM 100W and offer additional peer mentoring through our writing consultants program.