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COMM 1010 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

COMM 1010 - Survey of Mass Communication

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course examines the media as a social institution by providing an overview of print, electronic and computer-based media forms. It also reviews the role of media in society and its effects on culture.  This course also teaches media literacy and criticism skills.

Course Outcomes:

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Recognize, describe, and explain social institutions, structures, and processes and the complexities of a global culture and diverse society.
  • Think critically about how individuals are influenced by political, geographic, economic, cultural, and family institutions in their own and other diverse cultures and explain how one's own belief system may differ from others.
  • Explore the relationship between the individual and society as it affects the personal behavior, social development and quality of life of the individual, the family and the community.
  • Examine the impact of behavioral and social scientific research on major contemporary issues and their disciplines' effects on individuals and society.
  • Using the most appropriate principles, methods, and technologies, perceptively and objectively gather, analyze, and present social and behavioral science research data, draw logical conclusions, and apply those conclusions to one's life and society.
  • Take ethical stands based on appropriate research in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • Analyze and communicate the values and processes that are used to formulate theories regarding the social context of individual human behavior in the social and behavioral sciences. 
  • Students will articulate the role of media in American society and culture.
  • Students will analyze the power and importance of the First Amendment, free expression and other aspects of the democratic process in media content.
  • Students will describe how today's communications network functions
  • Students will perform research and analysis of media content and social issues.
  • Students will understand the legal and ethical responsibilities of media consumers and producers.

Evaluation of learning outcomes: Student success in attainment of these outcomes will be measured by a variety of methods including examinations, lecture, readings, in class and out of class activities and research projects. Additionally, students may have the opportunity to engage social scientific media research, such as in-class polling, content analysis and reviews of pertinent literature.

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Must test above or have completed all developmental reading and writing courses.

Course Topics:
  • Mass Media and Everyday Life
  • Books: Rearranging the Page
  • Newspapers: Mobilizing Delivery
  • Magazines: Chasing the Audience
  • Recordings: Streaming Sounds
  • Radio: Riding New Waves
  • Movies: Digitizing Dreams
  • Television: Switching Channels
  • Internet Media: Widening the Web
  • Advertising: Catching Consumers
  • Public Relations: Promoting Ideas
  • News and Information: Staying Connected
  • Society and Political Issues: Shaping the Arguments
  • Law and Regulation: Reforming the Rules
  • Mass Media Ethics
  • Global Media: Communicating Change
Specific Course Requirements:

This class will require you to read, understand and participate in discussions, tests, and in the creation of a final paper on a Mass Media topic.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:


Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Grading Procedures:
  • Each (16) module has an assessed discussion, quiz and test, plus the course has a final project (paper).
  • The discussions will be graded by the instructor based on required number of posts (1 original, 3 responses to others), as well as content and relevance to the discussion topic.
  • The quizzes will be electronically graded questions based on text content.
  • The tests will also be electronically graded based on text content.
  • The three elements (proposal, draft outline and bibliography, final paper) will be graded by the instructor based on the requirements noted below.
Grading Scale:

Letter grades for this course will be assigned based on the following scale.

Point RangeAssigned Grade
1,000 - 900 pointsA
899 - 800 pointsB
799 - 700 pointsC
699 - 600 pointsD
under 600 pointsF

Graded Items

16 Discussions @ 15 points each240
16 Quizzes @ 10 points each160
16 Chapter Tests @ 20 points each320
Final Project - Proposal60
Final Project - Draft Outline & Annotated Bibliography60
Final Project - Final Paper160
Total Points1,000
Assignments and Projects:


Final Project

Overview: The final project is designed to provide the opportunity for the student to study a topic of interest in more detail than provided in the book.  The project will include as the major component a research paper on a specific topic within the broad spectrum of mass communication.  In addition, the project will also include a proposal and draft outline/list of sources.

Total project grade is a maximum of 280 points. Due dates are on the course calendar and in the dropbox.

Step 1: The Proposal

The first step in the process will be to submit a research proposal for review and approval. This step is worth 60 points.

In the proposal, you will submit a specific purpose (thesis statement) for your project. You will also provide a brief (1-2 paragraphs) summary of the main ideas your paper will consider.  Finally, you will include a list of at least 6 potential sources. Specific topics can come from any of the major areas of mass communication discussed in the course as follows:

  • Mass Media and Everyday Life
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Recordings
  • Radio
  • Movies
  • Television
  • Internet Media
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • News and Information
  • Media Impact on Society and/or Political Issues
  • Media Law and Regulations
  • Mass Media Ethics
  • Global Media

Your specific topic MUST come from one of these areas. Your list of potential sources must be specific. In other words, don’t say “internet sites,” rather say The list of sources may change between the proposal and the final paper.

Step 2: Draft Outline & Bibliography

Several weeks prior to the due date for the final project, you will submit a rough draft outline of your paper and tentative ANNOTATED bibliography of sources. The ANNOTATED bibliography will include a MINIMUM of 7 sources. The outline will include your thesis statement, a brief outline of your introduction/preview, an outline of the main ideas of the paper itself (with supporting information as you have developed it so far), and a brief statement about how you plan to conclude the paper, or what your expected findings will be.  The final paper can change from the draft. The purpose of the draft is to make sure you are organizing and researching your project appropriately. This will be worth a maximum of 60 points.

Step 3: The Final Paper

On or before the due date you will submit your final paper to the dropbox. The paper will be a minimum of 5-7 pages long, plus a bibliography of at least 7 sources and a cover page. The paper and bibliography will be in proper APA or MLA format and will be free from typographical or grammatical errors. Plagiarism will not be tolerated and all materials submitted will be subject to review by plagiarism detection services, so be sure to thoroughly document your paper. The paper will be worth a maximum of 160 points.

Final Project Grading:

Your work will be evaluated based equally on the following criteria:

  1. Well-defined topic/thesis
  2. Thorough support of ideas and documentation of sources
  3. Proper grammar/spelling/APA/MLA format of paper and bibliography
  4. Adherence to assignment directions
  5. Overall significance/quality of findings
Class Participation:

You will be required to participate in Discussions, in addition to the Chapter Tests and Final Project. Discussions will revolve around a central question, statement or topic. You will be required to post an original response and add an additional three responses to other classmates' original posts to receive the maximum points (15) for each.

Late Policy:

Every module of the class is open from the first day of class. However, all graded assignments have a deadline. Every deadline is a solid deadline and will not be changed or extended.

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on August 16, 2017