Graduate Courses

Fall 2018 Courses

COMM 501
Proseminar in Mass Communications

Mondays, 2:30 pm - 5:30 pm /  3 Carnegie Bldg.
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, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm /  3 Carnegie Bldg.
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

Thursdays, 2:30- 5:30 pm / 24 Carnegie Bldg.
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

Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 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 590

Wednesdays, 12:20-1:35, 271 Willard
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 597.001

Data Models in Commnications

Tuesdays, 3:30-6:30 pm, 008 Carnegie
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


COMM 597.002

Internet Cultures
Wednesdays, 8-11 am, 003 Carnegie
Russell Frank
The World Wide Web has spawned countless subgroups, each with its own customs and
expressive traditions. This course will examine several online communities – writers of
fanfiction, photoshoppers, gamers, shamers and flamers are among the possibilities -- as case
studies of the larger phenomenon, while exploring methods of studying them and raising
questions about privacy, anonymity, ethics and aesthetics.

COMM 597.003

Public Relations Theory

Fridays, 11:15 am-2:15 pm, 003 Carnegie
Denise Sevick Bortree
This class provides an overview of the theoretical body of knowledge in public relations
including theories pertaining to audience segmentation, relationship building, agenda setting,
ethics, and crisis communication. Special attention will be given to theory building and
development in the field. Research from a number of content areas will be discussed including
social responsibility, advocacy, health, and international communication.