COMSTRAT 561
Persuasion for Professional Communicators

Course Instructor:

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Readings are available through the course e-reserve/Leganto as indicated, or through the Washington State University Library website at http://wsulibs.wsu.edu/

Students are required to view the film "Swing Kids".

Marshall, F. F. (Executive Producer), Meledandri, C. (Executive Producer), Carter, T. (Director). (1993). Swing Kids [Motion picture]. United States: Hollywood Pictures.

This film may be available through YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, numerous online retailers or your local library.


Course Overview

Welcome to Comstrat 561, Persuasion for Professional Communicators. This course is designed to familiarize you with key theories, concepts, strategies, and processes of persuasion and social influence. As you proceed through the course, you will develop a nuanced response to the question, ?How do persuaders use strategic communication to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of others??


Course Learning Goals

By the time you complete this course, you should (1) understand a wide range of theoretical and empirical issues related to the study and practice of persuasion, (2) be able to critically evaluate persuasion and social influence scholarship in the communication discipline, and (3) be able to apply the skills and competencies you have learned in professional communication settings.


Course Work

Each unit will consist of one or more readings and a discussion. Discussions will give you an opportunity to further explore and apply each week?s readings. You will also be required to complete 5 short writing assignments that will test your grasp of core concepts. Finally, you will complete one semester-long Facebook project for inclusion in your portfolio. The Facebook project will allow you to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what you have learned in the course.

Discussions

This course is designed to be writing intensive and to promote critical thinking. With this in mind, you will be graded on the quality of your contributions to the online discussions. The threaded discussions will require you to respond to discussion prompts and to engage with others in critical dialogue and exchange. Over the course of the semester, you will participate in five threaded discussions. The discussions are collectively worth 25% of the course grade. The emphasis of the course is on quality rather than quantity. The course will, therefore, have a smaller reading load and higher expectations for written submissions.

A Note on Group Discussion Participation and Grading: Persuasion for Professional Communicators is a participation-based course; you will do much of your learning through participation in the group discussions. Each discussion will center on several questions, or prompts, related to assigned readings. Grades will be based on the quality, frequency, and the regularity of participation. High quality discussion posts are those in which students refer to the readings to demonstrate an understanding of the content, ask and answer questions in a thoughtful manner, and constructively engage in group discussion and activities. Note that so-called ?cheerleading,? responses, (i.e. responses like, ?I agree.? Or ?You?re right?) do not productively extend the conversation and will therefore not be eligible for full credit. Please note that initial postings are due no later than 11:59 p.m. PST each Friday ; responses, dialogue and exchange must be posted no later than 11:59 p.m. PST on the following Sunday (i.e. two days after initial posts are due.) I strongly recommend that you visit the discussion board early and often, as your active participation is essential to your learning experience in this class.

Writing Assignments

In addition to the readings and threaded discussions, you will prepare five short papers (writing assignments.) Each short paper will address one or more key issues identified in the assignment prompts. These papers are worth 50 points each, and together they will count for 25% of the grade. Specific topics and due dates for the papers can be found in the course schedule.

Final Project and Presentation

The final project has two components: the creation of a Facebook "group" or "page" and then a presentation explaining the items included in the Facebook group/page. For the Facebook page/group, you will apply principles of strategic persuasion to advocate for a single political or social issue. You will be asked to "curate" the news on this issue and to link news stories, videos, tweets, etc. to this site, which must also include exemplars of various types of persuasive messages and appeals. You will also be required to write and post 2 (or more) "opinion pieces" on the issue, in an attempt to synthesize the evidence for the issue in a way that is persuasive to an intended audience. Each post should be around 500 words in length. At the end of the semester, you will hand in one document to the dropbox that includes these 2 opinion pieces.  In the final week of the course, you will submit a final audiovisual presentation in which you will share your group/page, discuss how you applied persuasive concepts from the class in developing it, and discuss how effective your effort was. Presentations should be about 15 minutes in length. Creation and maintenance of the group/page is worth 30% of the final grade and the audiovisual presentation is worth 20%.


Late Work Policy

Work (papers, exams, final projects) will be due at 11:59 p.m. PST on the due date listed in the course schedule. Late work will be accepted the following day, but will lose one letter grade for late submission. Work turned in after that time will lose one full letter grade for each business day it is late. I will not accept work that is submitted more than one week late.


Instructor Interaction

Regular and consistent communication is crucial to success in any class but especially in an online course. Except under unusual circumstances, students in this class can anticipate a response to a discussion post, questions to the instructor, or email within 24 to 48 hours of initial contact. Emails will be read and responded to between the hours of 9 - 5 PST M - F. Emails received after 5 PM PST on Friday will be answered the following Monday. Emails and discussion board posts will not be read or responded to on Saturdays and Sundays or during scheduled university holidays. Students need also to hold themselves to the same standard in checking their email and responding both to fellow students and the instructor. Student emails must be sent through Blackboard or from your WSU email account. For general or non-personal course questions, please use the "Questions for the Instructor" thread in the Discussion Board. The Instructor will not respond to emails from external email sources (e.g. gmail).


Tentative Nature of this Syllabus


This syllabus represents a contract in the works. Events that transpire over the semester may, in rare circumstances, require me to modify the syllabus. I will announce the modification via BlackBoard. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to keep up with any such modifications and be aware of current policies, deadlines, etc.


Grading

As this is a graduate-level Communication course, I have high expectations for your work. Assignments will be graded on both content and writing/presentation. If you have questions about any assignment, please ask. I will use the following formula for grading:

A:   Assignment is well above the standard in both content and writing/presentation

B:   Assignment meets standard for a graduate-level Communication course (argument is well articulated and supported; writing is professional quality; meets criteria specific to assignment)

C:   Assignment meets standard in either content or writing; or is just below standard in both

D:   Assignment does not meet standard in either content or writing

Course Work Points Percent of Final Grade
Discussion Participation (5 at 50 pts. each) 250 25%
Writing Assignments (5 at 50 pts. each) 250 25%
Final Facebook Project (including Opinion Pieces) 300 30%
Final Audiovisual Presentation 200 20%


Grade Points Grade Points
A 93-100% C 73-<77%
A- 90-<93% C- 70-<73%
B+ 87-<90% D+ 67-<70%
B 83-<87% D 60-<67%
B- 80-<83% F 0-<60%
C+ 77-<80%    

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