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CMST 2HM3 Human Communication

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Terry Flynn


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 329

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26977


Office Hours: Mon. 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm & Tues. 12:00pm – 2:00pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:


How do humans communicate with one another? What is the basis for the perceptions we share, and the knowledge that enables us to use language and other signs such as visual images to transmit messages and understand one another? How do humans receive and interpret messages delivered via mass media, small groups or in mediated, online communities?

Students will examine fundamental concepts in human and inter-personal communication studies and the effect of language, performativity, mass media and the Internet have on socio-cultural and cognitive processes. The textbook will provide a practical, skill-building and methods-oriented perspective on underlying human communication. Invited speakers from the communication industry and academe may give guest lectures.


Theoretical Objectives      

Students completing the course would be expected to achieve two main learning objectives:

  • Understand the theories and practices across human, interpersonal and speech communication;
  • Understand and analyze how concepts in human communication (mediated & interpersonal) are processed in real-life situations and scenarios;

Practical Objectives 

Students completing the course would be expected to achieve three main learning objectives:

  • Learn about and be able to apply interpersonal, group, mediated and mass communication strategies in real-life scenarios;
  • Learn about the role of language and speech in communication (socio-cultural and cognitive);
  • Learn how to present persuasive arguments through written, oral and online communication channels.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts

Students should purchase the following texts from Titles Bookstore:

  • Adler, R., Rodman, G. & Sévigny, A. (2015). Understanding Human Communication, 3nd Canadian Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
  • Other readings, videos, or podcasts as assigned and/or posted on A2L

Top Hat

We will be using the Top Hat ( classroom response system in class. You will be able to submit answers to in-class questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message.

You can visit the Top Hat Overview ( within the Top Hat Success Center which outlines how you will register for a Top Hat account, as well as providing a brief overview to get you up and running on the system.

An email invitation will be sent to you by email, but if don’t receive this email, you can register by simply visiting our course website:

Note: our Course Join Code is 450032

Top Hat will require a paid subscription, and a full breakdown of all subscription options available can be found here:

Should you require assistance with Top Hat at any time, due to the fact that they require specific user information to troubleshoot these issues, please contact their Support Team directly by way of email (, the in app support button, or by calling 1-888-663-5491.

Method of Assessment:

Required Assignments:



Value (% of overall grade)

Due Date

Discussion Board Postings






Weekly Quizzes (in-class)

20% (10 Quizzes worth 2% each)

Jan 19, 26

Feb 2, 9, 16

Mar 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Persuasive Essay


Week 7 (February 13, 2018)

Conflict Resolution/Problem Solving Assignment


Week 11 (March 20, 2018)

Final Examination


April Exam Period


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

A Note on Lecture Participation:

Being a student in this course comes with several responsibilities.

  • Please come to class with the readings completed, and ready to discuss readings and engage in class activities.
  • Please be punctual, and stay for the entire session, as you are responsible for any announcements made at the beginning and/or end of class.
  • If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get notes from a classmate, and to be prepared for the next class meeting, with all assignments/readings ready. Lecture notes will not be posted online or emailed.
  • Please also be present—existentially speaking—in class. If you are on your devices, social media, etc., you are not present and you are also disturbing the people around you.

Announcements: The instructor reserves the right to make adjustments in the schedule.

Regardless of attendance, students are responsible for all announcements made in class, including adjustments to readings and assignments. Students are responsible for regularly checking A2L for any information that may be distributed online.

Class Environment: It is important that this course be an inclusive classroom. The course will involve a high level of interaction, especially in tutorial, and some disagreement about issues is expected. It is important that each individual is free to contribute, so I ask that we respect each voice in the class, and build an inclusive classroom. Any online interaction must also follow these guidelines.

Avenue 2 Learn: In this class, we will be using A2L. Students should be aware that when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster email accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure, please discuss this with the instructor.

Assignment Submission/Turn It In: All papers/assignments must be typed, dated and titled in 12-point font, stapled, and include page numbers. Headings must include your name and student number. Please use APA citation style for in-text citation and bibliography. All assignments are due on the day identified in this course outline. The assignments must be submitted to A2L, in the appropriate assignment dropbox. ONLY SUBMIT WORD (.doc) OR PDF (.pdf) FILES to A2L dropboxes. Each submission must also use the following naming protocol:



Failing to follow this file naming protocol will result in a deduction of marks.

Late Assignments:  ONLY the Persuasive Essay and Conflict Resolution/Problem-Solving assignments will be accepted without penalty within 5 days from the official deadline. After the passing of the five-day grace period, late assignments will be given a grade of zero (0%). Please note, if you choose to use an MSAF for a late assignment that the MSAF is for a maximum period of three days, and can only be used for the assignment’s due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the five-day grace period.

For discussion board postings, your response is due at the beginning of each week but you have until the end of the week to submit your response.  For example, in Week 2, the discussion posting is due on January 9, 2018 (Tuesday) but you have an automatic extension until January 12th – which means that an MSAF for missing a posting will not be accepted as this falls within the maximum period of three days. The discussion board questions will be posted on the Sunday of each week and your response must be posted by Tuesday at 230pm of each week and the discussions will be closed by Friday at 5pm of each week.

Final Examinations. The final examination will take place during the examination period in April. Students are expected to answer all of the questions using key concepts learned from course readings and lecture material over the course of the semester. The final examination will be composed of multiple-choice and true/false questions.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Course Schedule







January 4 & 5

Introduction to the course

Discuss: The purpose of the class

Discuss: The syllabus and the assignments

READ: Edelman Trust Barometer Key Findings:


January 9, 11 & 12


UHC Chapter 1: Human Communication: What and Why

Watch: Rachel Botsman: “We've stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers” YOUTUBE LINK:


January 16, 18, 19


UHC Chapter 2: Perception, the Self, and Communication

Clark, J. K., Wegener, D. T., Sawicki, V., Petty, R. E., & Briñol, P. (2013). Evaluating the Message or the Messenger? Implications for Self-Validation in Persuasion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0146167213499238. (A2L)


January 23, 25 & 26


UHC Chapter 11: Persuasion

UHC Appendix 1: Persuasive Professional Writing

Evans, A. T., & Clark, J. K. (2012). Source characteristics and persuasion: The role of self-monitoring in self-validation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 383-386.


January 30, Feb 1 & 2


UHC Chapter 3: Language

Listen to George Lakoff: How Talking About Trump Makes Him Normal In Your Brain.










February 6, 8, & 9


UHC Chapter 5: Listening



February 13, 15 & 16


UHC Chapter 4: Non-Verbal Communication


WATCH: AMY CUDDY: Non-verbal power and dominance


READ: The debate on Amy Cuddy’s research and propositions.


Persuasive Essay Due: February 13, 2018 at 3:00pm to A2L


February 19-23

WINTER BREAK – no class


Feb 27, Mar 1 & 2


UHC Chapter 6: Understanding Interpersonal Relationships




March 6, 8 & 9

UHC Chapter 7: Improving Interpersonal Relationships



March 13, 15 & 16


 UHC Chapters 9: The Nature of Groups

Zaretsky, R. (2016, July 27). Donald Trump and the Myth of Mobocracy: How the dubious ideas of a 19th-century Frenchman reverberate in 2016. The Atlantic.



March 20, 22, & 23



 UHC Chapter 10: Solving Problems in Groups


Conflict Resolution Assignment Due: March 20, 2018 at 3:00pm to A2L


March 27, 29 & 30


UHC Chapter 8: Social Media and Communication Theory

Metzger, M. J., & Flanagin, A. J. (2013). Credibility and trust of information in online environments: The use of cognitive heuristics. Journal of Pragmatics, 59, 210-220.


April 3, 5 & 6

Course Review

Read: Trump’s Twitter Distraction


Final Exam

As scheduled by the University