Teaching

 

Communication 3760: Planning Communication Campaigns

Offered every spring semester

This course provides a theoretical and practical overview of the audiences, messages, and evaluation of communication campaigns. The course considers common methods of data collection (e.g. in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys) and analysis of campaign-related data sources. Specific topics include (1) campaign goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics; (2) research design and implementation; (3) audience segmentation; (4) message construction; and (5) techniques of evaluation. The instructor assumes that students have received at least once semester’s instruction in research methods used in communication studies (COMM 2820) and have taken (or are currently taking) a course in basic statistics.

The course is designed to provide students with a hands-on experience in developing a campaign proposal for a client based on principles of planning and evaluation. While the applied research project and examples discussed in class will focus specifically on social issue campaigns, the broader set of skills that will be learned in the class are relevant to both social issue and commercial advertising campaigns.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

(1)   Identify key principles involved with the design, implementation and evaluation of public communication campaigns;

(2)   Evaluate existing communication campaigns based on criteria learned throughout the course;

(3)   Apply a variety of research methodologies, including unobtrusive observation, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and/or surveys, to inform an original communication campaign proposal;

(4)   Apply communication theory to justify and develop campaign messages that are likely to be effective in reaching campaign objectives among targeted audiences;

(5)   Synthesize information gained through a situational analysis, communication theory and original research to develop an original communication campaign proposal.

 

Communication 4760: Population Health Communication

Offered spring semesters

This senior-level undergraduate seminar provides an overview of theory and research on communication related to population health, including strategic efforts to impact health behavior and structural environments that support health, media portrayals of health issues, and news coverage of health and social policy with impacts on the health and distribution of health in populations. Topics include theories of behavior change and message effects, campaigns to improve behavioral and structural determinants of health; the intersection of health and politics; and implications of changes in media platforms for population health campaigns and research. 

This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduate students concerned with how large-scale mediated communication can influence health-related behavior and policy in ways that affect human health and well-being. The course is designed to serve both students who are trained in communication or other social sciences who wish to bring their theory and methods training to bear on health issues, and students focused on public health, nutrition, or public policy who wish to develop a stronger background in the theory, methods, and practice of health communication.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

(1) Understand major theories that try to explain variation in (a) health-related behavior among individuals and larger social units, and (b) responses to health-related messages designed to promote behavior or policy change;

(2) Analyze the implications of those theories for the potential role of public health communication in changing behavior;

(3) Evaluate the credibility of the evidence for the effectiveness of prominent, historical examples of public health communication programs in the US and abroad;

(4) Evaluate evidence for effects of other forms of public communication relating to health (advertising, news coverage, media programming) on health and policy outcomes; and 

(5) Synthesize knowledge and skills learned in objectives (1) through (4) to develop a review of research in an area of interest.

 


Communication 6760: Public Health Communication

Offered fall semesters in even-numbered years

This graduate seminar provides an overview of theory and research on public communication related to health behavior and policy change. Topics include theories of behavior change and message effects; formative and evaluative research; campaigns related to cancer, AIDS, obesity, smoking, nutrition, and drug use; and heterogeneity in campaign effects between populations. The instructor assumes that students have received at least once semester’s worth of instruction at the graduate level in quantitative research methods.

This seminar is intended for graduate students concerned with how large-scale mediated communication can influence health-related behavior and policy in ways that improve human health and well-being. We do not focus on issues of interpersonal health communication (e.g., doctor-patient communication). The course is designed to serve both students who are trained in communication or other social sciences who wish to bring their theory and methods training to bear on health issues, and students focused on public health, nutrition, or public policy who wish to develop a stronger background in the theory and methods of health communication.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

(1)   Understand major theories that try to explain variation in (a) health-related behavior among individuals and larger social units, and (b) responses to health-related messages designed to promote behavior or policy change;

(2)   Analyze the implications of those theories for the potential role of public health communication in changing behavior;

(3)   Evaluate the credibility of the evidence for the effectiveness of prominent, historical examples of public health communication programs in the US and abroad;

(4)   Evaluate evidence for effects of other forms of public communication relating to health (advertising, news coverage, media programming) on health and policy outcomes.

(5)   Apply knowledge gained about communication theory and skills developed in using SPSS or a similar statistical program to analyze survey data to inform an original communication strategy brief;

(6)   Synthesize knowledge and skills learned in objectives (1) through (5) to develop a major research project of their choosing in their area of interest.

 

Communication 2820: Research Methods in Communication Studies

Offered every fall semester; currently taught by other faculty

This course is a general overview of research methods used in communication studies. It is required for all majors and is a prerequisite for several upper-level courses in the major. The first third of the course presents a conceptual basis for designing research and assessing research quality. The second section of the course illustrates these concepts through in-depth reviews of research areas, including (1) qualitative studies, (2) content analysis, (3) surveys and (4) experiments. The last third of the course focuses on basic descriptive statistics, inferential statistics and measures of association. Most modules are illustrated through class exercises based on research questions that might be encountered in communication research. Statistical examples will be drawn from various data sources and illustrated in class lectures through the use of EXCEL and SPSS. Students will also learn basic data manipulation, analysis and presentation techniques using EXCEL and SPSS.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

(1)   Appreciate how we do research in the field of communication and why it is important to understand research methods,

(2)   Utilize a variety of communication databases to identify scholarly research related to a research topic of interest;

(3)   Understand key concepts and vocabulary used to describe various research paradigms and designs;

(4)   Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of communication research designs that utilize in-depth interviews, content analysis, surveys and experiments,

(5)   Apply knowledge and skills learned about content analysis to design a codebook to analyze newspaper coverage;

(6)   Apply knowledge and skills learned about surveys to design an original questionnaire about media use and a sampling strategy;

(7)   Analyze numerical data using descriptive and inferential statistics in EXCEL and SPSS;

(8)   Convey statistical information through graphs, charts and figures using EXCEL and SPSS.