MCM 436 Mass Communication Research: Tactics and Strategies

Fall 1999, MWF 1:30, Old Main 238

Dr. John Beatty

Old Main 247


Office Hours: MWF 3-4; TR 12-1

Home phone (910) 695-3348

Course description: MCM 436 will familiarize you with the history of mass communication theory, incorporating an understanding of the range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques applied in the development of that theory, and an ability to critically assess mass communication research literature. It will prepare you for professional or management positions in the field, or entrance into graduate school.

Learning objectives:

To acquaint you with the academic literature of mass communication

To acquaint you with the terminology and concepts of communication studies

To develop your skills as a researcher within the communication literature


Wimmer, R.D. and Dominick, J.R. 1997. Mass media Research. An Introduction (Fifth edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Baran S.J. and Davis, D.K. 2000. Mass Communication Theory. Foundations, Ferment, and Future (Second edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

The following is recommended and is available in the bookstore under several classes (e.g. psychology).

American Psychological Association. 1996. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Fourth edition).


You will have three tests and one final exam covering material in the texts and in lectures.

You will complete a major literature review on a topic of your choice related to mass communication.

You will write and report on two two-page reviews of scholarly articles taken from scholarly journals in mass communication.


I expect you to participate in class. Attendance, alertness, contribution to discussion, and your presentations contribute to the participation grade. Journalism is a public profession and you should get used to interacting in public settings.

Keep backups of computer assignments on floppy disks (3.5" DD or HD).

Article reviews and your literature review must conform to APA style and must be typed or word-processed, double-spaced.


Any course in communication includes elements of professional behavior. Just as if you were "on the job," I expect you to attend class. Roll will be taken at each class meeting. For any absence to be excused you must contact me beforehand and provide documentation of your excuse or have a friend do so if you are unable. Given normal extenuating circumstances, you will be allowed a total of three unexcused class absences. Further unexcused absences, or excessive excused absences will lower your final grade.

Assignments or tests missed due to excused absences can be made up, but those missed due to unexcused absences cannot.

Adjustments to the schedule and requirements listed in this document are to be allowed for, if not expected.

You have the responsibility to know and observe the UNCP Academic Honor Code (see course catalog). This code forbids cheating, plagiarism, fabrication and abuse of academic materials. The normal penalty for a first offense is an F in the course.

Grading: Literature review 35%

Tests 30%

Final exam 15%

Two-page papers 10%

Participation/presentations 10%

Grade assignment: A = 94 and above; A- = 90-93; B+ = 87-89; B = 84-86; B- = 80-83; C+ = 77-79; C = 74-76; C- = 70-73; D+ = 67-69; D = 64-66; D- = 60-63; F = below 60.

In other words: A = All major and minor goals achieved; B = All major goals achieved, some minor ones not; C = All major goals achieved, many minor ones not; D = A few major goals achieved but not prepared for further advanced work; F = None of the major goals achieved.

Class schedule

Aug. 18 Introduction

20 What is research? (WD Chap. 1)

Aug. 23 Research procedures, journals (WD 2)

25 WordPerfect, Windows (Computer lab; Science 142)

27 Library Research

Aug. 30 What is theory (BD Chap. 1)

Sept. 1 Theory, cont. (BD 2)

3 Propaganda and magic bullets (BD 4)


8 Propaganda

10 Limited effects (BD 6)

Sept. 13 Limited effects

15 Limited mid-range effects (BD 7)

17 Social-psychological effects theory (BD 8)

Sept. 20 Social-psych

22 Reviews/reports

24 Reviews/reports

Sept. 27 Test review

29 Test No. 1

Oct. 1 Critical, cultural theories (BD 9)

Oct. 4 Critical, cultural

6 Qualitative research (WD 5)

8 Qualitative research

Oct. 11 Constructs, measurement (WD 3)

13 Measurement


Oct. 18 Measurement

20 Sampling (WD 4)

22 Sampling

Oct. 25 Audiences (BD 10)

27 Audiences

29 Test No. 2

Nov. 1 Media and society (BD 11)

3 Media and society, cultivation (WD 16; part)

5 Media and society, agenda-setting (WD 16)

Nov. 8 Content analysis (WD 6)

10 Content

12 Survey research (WD 7)

Nov. 15 Surveys

17 Stats (WD 10)

19 Stats, hypotheses (WD11)

Nov. 22 Stat procedures

24 Test No. 3


Nov. 29 Writing research (WD 18)

Dec. 1 Reviews/reports

3 Reviews/reports

Dec. 6 Writing, reporting research; Exam review

FINAL EXAM Wednesday, Dec. 15, 10:30 a.m.