Moore, R. C. (2004). Communications Seminar: Standards and expectations. Unpublished course document, Elizabethtown College, Department of Communications.
Com 485 Communications Seminar: Standards and Expectations
WHAT IS COMMUNICATIONS SEMINAR?
Seminar is a CAPSTONE course. That is, it is to be one of the final courses taken in Communications prior to graduation.
It is intended to provide an opportunity for an INTEGRATION of previous course work, knowledge, skills, and experiential learning into a course thesis, project, and oral defense.
Seminar is based on INDEPENDENT STUDY. It is expected that students will be able to work independently. Traditional course supervision and daily expectations are minimal especially with regard to the final paper, project, and oral defense. Students must display initiative, maturity, and a demonstration of professional competencies and standards to be successful in the course.
Student demeanor, performance, and course projects are to display a PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY exemplifying knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to which they aspire. As such, many of the traditional “mindsets” of a student are expected to take a back seat for this class. There are no tutors. There are no answers universal to all students, theses, projects, or oral defenses. The Professor is a guide and may often answer questions with a question. Guidance and discussion are readily available but direction and answers remain the responsibility and an expectation of the student.
The course demands that a student demonstrate broad MASTERY knowledge, skills and abilities within the Communications discipline and across the College—appropriate to a senior level student—who is in a transition to becoming a professional.
The professor expects regular evidence of CRITICAL and CREATIVE THINKING, problem solving strategies, effective writing, effective oral communication, quantitative and qualitative analysis, computer literacy, library competency and mediated communications.
TIME AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT are likely the two most important keys to successfully completing the course and having a positive experience in it. Success is of your own making.
A GUIDE TO GRADING FOR THE FINAL THESIS, PROJECT, AND DEFENSE.
How Are Course Requirements Graded?
A "C" is average. That is, everything is done satisfactorily and all of the requirements are met. A project, thesis, or defense that does not meet minimum expectations and does not meet what is believed to be adequate support of the research plan would not earn a "C".
A "B" is above average. That is, in addition to everything being done satisfactorily, the makeup of the project, thesis or defense (its physical design/presentation, construction of research and its review, and the delivery of the defense including the various uses of media and other support materials), must go beyond minimum expectations and demonstrate a command of knowledge and a true professional demeanor.
An "A" presentation is superior. That is, it is a project, thesis and defense that are essentially error free. They not only exhibit excellent physical, written and presentation delivery skills but also are set apart by their creative and advanced techniques in reviewing research, project production and presentation.
What Are The Requirements Of The Seminar Thesis?
The final thesis is, in part, a revision of the Chapter 1 & 2 draft that was submitted at midterm. The revision includes additional research as may be required. All components of the research plan must be adequately addressed in Chapter 2 and extended in subsequent chapters.
ALL factual assertions made in the paper (regardless of in which chapter) must be supported with appropriate citations.
All writing must be in the third person. As seniors, it is expected that grammar, word choice, sentence structure, etc. are correct. It is expected that drafts will be written, edited, proofread, rewritten, etc., so that the final paper is a well-written and groomed document worthy of a 4th year college student for whom communications (written, oral and production) is an intended profession.
Wording problems, sentence fragments, errors in logical presentation of information and research are indicators that attention was not paid in the drafting process. Such problems are not expected of seniors and will greatly detract from the paper grade.
All writing/information must directly relate to the goal of the project and its various objectives. The paper and presentation are actually defenses that the project has met all of the stated objectives of the problem/solution statement.
The thesis of the research plan, once approved, is non-negotiable and provides the basis for the research. It is fully expected that all of the terminology used is completely understood by the student and that proper reference is made when defining terms.
The components of research, drawn from the research plan, are arranged in hierarchical order and provide the organizational framework for the entire paper. Use headings drawn from the research plan in the body of the paper to help “map” the presentation of information. Where appropriate, use subheadings.
Chapter 1 is brief background on the client with a current focus on the situation at hand. There is a discussion of the communications problem and its potential solution—thus, at least in part, contributing to a resolution of the client’s situation. A brief review of the research that is to be conducted is presented and concludes with the thesis sentence.
The research plan is the blueprint for the organization of Chapter 2. Chapter 2 provides the basis and order of elaboration for Chapters 3 and 4.
Chapter 2 is not to be general. It is to specifically look at the literature that is the foundation for the planning, design and creation of a project. It is the theoretical basis or research for the project.
Chapter 3 is the applicability of the knowledge gained in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 is planning; it is pre-production. If the research and project requires the creation of planning documents (like a marketing plan, a public relations plan, an advertising campaign, and so on,) the creation of those documents are part of what is required and reviewed in Chapter 3.
Chapter 4 reviews production. It is expected that by the fourth year, there will be no confusion about what constitutes which. Chapter 4 is not to review technical and electronic equipment choices. It is to review the design and creative aspects of the project and how they relate to and satisfy the goal and objective of the project. It is a specific review of the production process, the decisions made, and how what was conceived was appropriate to the successful resolution of the problem.
Chapter 5—Evaluation is a review of the methods undertaken to evaluate the project in the formative and summative stages. This chapter is to specify the methods used, the inquiries made and how they were relevant to the actual goal and objective of the project. This chapter must include discussions of the details of focus groups, etc., including documents used to evaluate the project. Finally, a review of the actual results of the evaluation is made with a report of the data collected.
Chapter 6 is the appendix of the final paper. It is the compilation of documents from all stages of project development throughout the semester. It does include the journal, progress reports, budget, etc. that were previously submitted (along with various planning documents that include goals, objectives, character development, thumbnails, blue lines, drafts, focus group evaluations, talent releases, auditions, project proposals, scripts, storylines, shooting scripts, etc.)
What Are The Requirements Of The Seminar Project?
The project must be a representation of the research and its application that can be found in Chapters 2 & 3 of the paper.
All elements of the project must be completed and submitted. Not only does this include any of the multiple parts of a project, but also includes the “campaign” or “PR plan” or other comprehensive “planning documents” that may have been specified as necessary (in Chapter 2).
The project must be a professional production. Errors in production (distortions, flaws, pixilation, lighting, sound, etc.) are not professionally satisfactory and are to be remedied prior to final submission. A professionally sound production is expected. Grading includes the project’s appearance and standards (including: tape labels, camera-ready copy, printer specifications, titles, slates, etc.).
The overall grading of the project is directly related to how it meets the goal and objectives of the original problem and its relationship to specifics found in Chapters 3-5 of the paper. Evaluation will focus on student planning, decisions, quality of production, completeness of assessment activities, evaluation by the client, and project review and evaluation by the instructor. Each element of the production must be a positive contributing factor to achieving the project goal.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SEMINAR ORAL DEFENSE?
Use a creative opening to the presentation to get the audience’s attention. The opening should be directly relevant to the subject matter of the presentation.
Presentation material may not be anecdotal and based purely on observations. Research should be obvious. Use it as factual basis for assertions or to justify decisions on design, and production. A balance must be struck between the content of all 5 chapters.
During the presentation, the student is expected to cite specific production issues, decisions and/or problems, and while doing so must include demonstrations, excerpts, or other appropriate visual materials to make a point. It is inappropriate for the presenter to make the presentation, review all of the chapters, make reference to the project, and then, simply end by screening the project.
Do not hold up samples to be seen by the audience (unless unusually large.) All materials shown to the audience must either be duplicated or projected.
Specific recommendations have been made in past courses about the logistics/standards of visual presentations and oral/physical performance. It is expected that standards of good practice will be observed and grading will be reflective of meeting those benchmarks.