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CMST 2HM3 Human Communication (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Terry Flynn


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 329

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26977


Office Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 12:00pm – 2:00pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

COURSE DESCRIPTION   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. 

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 406462

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:

Method of Teaching and Assessment:

Typically, each class will involve a mixture of lecture, and discussion concerning the scheduled topic. As the syllabus indicates, guest speakers are an important component of this course, exposing students to professionals sharing real-world experiences and advice. Some sessions will include videos and/or brief video clips illustrating applied principles of public relations. Assigned readings, lectures, guest speaker remarks and videos are all testable.

Required Assignments:


Value (% of overall grade)

Due Date

Discussion Board Postings

15% (5 postings worth 3% each

Ongoing/ see class schedule

Top Hat Engagement/Attendance



Weekly Quizzes (in-class)

20% (4 Quizzes worth 5% each)

Jan 25

Feb 15

Mar 8 & 29

Persuasive Essay


Week 6 (February 12, 2019)

Conflict Resolution/Problem Solving Assignment


Week 12 (March 26, 2019)

Final Examination


April Exam Period


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

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 the A2L dropbox. 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 that the discussion board assignments are due 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 14, 2019 (Tuesday) but you have an automatic extension until January 18th – 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 opened at the start of the term and your response is due on the Monday of the week of the discussion.  See Discussion Board assignment outline on A2L.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

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. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

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. 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:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail 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 a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

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.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
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".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:

Course Schedule







January 8 & 9

Introduction to the course

Discuss: The purpose of the class

Discuss: The syllabus and the assignments


READ: Edelman Trust Barometer Key Findings:

No Class on January 11th







January 15, 16 & 18


UHC Chapter 1: Human Communication: What and Why


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

Discussion Board Postings Start

Top Hat Practice Quiz



January 22, 23, & 25


UHC Chapter 2: Perception, the Self, and Communication

First Top Hat Quiz (January 25th)

Watch: Celeste Headlee – “10 ways to have a better conversation”.



January 29 & 30


UHC Chapter 11: Persuasion

UHC Appendix 1: Persuasive Professional Writing

No Class on February 1st

Watch: Dan Norris --  “The Science of Influence”


Discussion Board Posting


February 5 & 6


UHC Chapter 3: Language

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

Watch: Mark Pagel – “How language transformed humanity”


No Class on February 8th










February 12, 13, & 15


UHC Chapter 5: Listening

Second Top Hat Quiz (February 15th)

Persuasive Essay Due: February 12, 2019 at 5:00pm to A2L


February 18-22

WINTER BREAK – no class


February 26, 27 & Mar 1


UHC Chapter 4: Non-Verbal Communication


WATCH: AMY CUDDY --  “Non-verbal power and dominance”


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


Discussion Board Posting



March 5, 6 & 8


UHC Chapter 6: Understanding Interpersonal Relationships

Third Top Hat Quiz (March 8th)



March 12, & 13

UHC Chapter 7: Improving Interpersonal Relationships

No class on March 15




March 19, 20 & 22


 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.

 No class on March 22

Discussion Board Posting


March 26, 27, & 29



 UHC Chapter 10: Solving Problems in Groups


Conflict Resolution Assignment Due: March 26, 2019 at 5:00pm to A2L

Fourth Top Hat Quiz (March 29th)


April 2 & 3


UHC Chapter 8: Social Media and Communication Theory

Read: Trump’s Twitter Distraction


No class on April 5th

Discussion Board Posting


April 9th

Course Review



Final Exam

As scheduled by the University




Other Course Information:

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.

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.