Graduate Programs

Graduate Courses, Fall 2019

COMM 501
Proseminar in Mass Communications
Mondays, 2:30-5:30 pm, 003 Carnegie
Michael Schmierbach
The course will review and discuss the major concepts, issues and approaches involved with studying media from a social science perspective.


COMM 502
Pedagogy in Communications

Thursdays, 6-9 pm, 003 Carnegie
Anthony Olorunnisola
This course focuses on the unique characteristics of undergraduate education in the communications discipline. The principles and practices covered in the seminar have applications for teaching communications in a number of venues including the academic, business and government professional settings. The course involves students in collaborative learning, assessment skills, powerful pedagogies, practical workshops and substantive reviews and applications of curricular and pedagogical research in the communications discipline.


COMM 506
Research Methods in Communications

Thursdays, 2:30-5:30 pm, 003 Carnegie
S. Shyam Sundar
This is a gateway course on social science research, providing students a rigorous introduction to
basic methodological concepts needed for conducting empirical research. Students will learn
how to explicate concepts, ask research questions and test hypotheses using experiments, surveys
and content analyses. They will be introduced to descriptive and inferential statistics. They will
critically analyze published research, by identifying threats to validity of inferences. They will
conduct a research project from start to finish, and produce original, publishable research.

COMM 515
MA Proseminar in Mass Communications

Mondays, 11:15 am-2:15 pm, 003 Carnegie
Matthew P. McAllister
An introduction to graduate studies for MA students in Media Studies. The class will explore a
range of major approaches and perspectives in the study of media and communications. The
class will also examine the scholarly profession of media and communication studies, and Penn
State media studies traditions and current scholars.


COMM 518
Media Effects

Tuesdays, 11:15-2:15 pm, 003 Carnegie
Jessica Gall Myrick
This course focuses on key theories in the social-scientific study of the individual/social effects of media use. The class explores how media shape our attitudes and behaviors in different contexts, including enjoyment, health, consumer behavior, politics, stereotyping, aggression, learning, and ongoing attitudes toward media. Course readings include scholarship on traditional media such as print, television and film as well as interactive media such as social networking sites and video games. Students should have a basic familiarity with quantitative research, but the class is ideal for anyone interested in the media, regardless of whether they have prior experience with scholarship in the area. Students are welcome even if they are taking COMM 506 concurrently or have completed equivalent coursework in another department.


COMM 520
Seminar in Advertising Problems

Fridays, 11:15-2:15, 003 Carnegie
Frank Dardis
This course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the persuasive effects of strategic communications (advertising, public relations, and marketing communications) and general mass communication by examining the theoretical and conceptual fundamentals of persuasion, attitude formation and change, information-processing, and decision-making, while emphasizing practical implications that affect the industry. Students will gain knowledge and produce insight that applies to both scholarly pursuits -- which help to analyze and develop theory -- and professional pursuits -- in which theoretical advancements can provide real-world solutions. The course is valuable for anyone interested in persuasion via mass communication.

COMM 590
Colloquium

Wednesdays, 12:20-1:35, 003 Carnegie
Robert Frieden
A one-credit course that consists of a series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers that discuss different areas of communications, graduate study, and resources at Penn State. The course is designed for COMM graduate students in their first semester.


COMM 597
Communications and Social Change

Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 pm, 003 Carnegie
Patrick Parsons
The course examines empirical theories of communications technology and social change. This will include readings in and discussion of: general theories of social change; evolutionary and coevolutionary models of technological development; media ecology; the social construction of technology; technological determinism; theories of technical affordance; the diffusion of innovation; studies of media displacement, cohort analysis and generational change; social cohesion and social fragmentation; information cascades and echo chambers; aggregation and power; and, of course, Giddens’ Theory of Structuration.


COMM 597
Data Models in Communications

Tuesdays, 2:30-5:30 pm, 006 Sparks
Mary Beth Oliver
Structural equation modeling (SEM) and related procedures have become very popular techniques in most social scientific disciplines, as they allow for more rigorous and theoretically enriching examinations of our data. The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to and foundation for SEM contextualized in terms of applied research. It will emphasize a conceptual understanding (rather than a mathematically derived focus) of the processes involved and decisions required in conducting these types of analyses. It will illustrate how researchers often report their results in scholarly publications, and provide students with numerous opportunities to practice their skills, both during the course and on their own. Topics include introductions to path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling.