Department of Speech Communication
Interpersonal Communication
SPEC 1608 Section TR9 (Course Code 16460)
Spring, 2015, Tuesday & Thursday, 9:30am-10:45am
3420 Boylan Hall
Dr. Foulger


Discussion Notes / Assignments (Class Moodle)

Course Description

We live in our communication, and no form of communication occupies more hours our days than our interpersonal interaction with others in dyads (pairs, couples, twos, etc) and informal small groups. It is in our interpersonal communication, more than anything else, that defines who we are and the nature of our relationships with others. Interpersonal communication is not just something we do, it is something we live. It is the dominant form of communication in most of our lives, whether we are talking to parents, friends, significant others, spouses, salespeople, coworkers, bosses, employees, etc. Even if we make a career in the mass media as journalists or broadcasters, it is our interaction with others (interpersonal interviews and interactions with colleagues) that will shape our careers and career opportunities.

This course is a reflective exploration of our face-to-face communication, one of the oldest forms of human communication, and its variants, including the many technological mediated interpersonal communication systems that you use every day (telephones, cell phones, texting, instant messaging, computer conferencing, etc. The course will mix theory with research and daily practice as we look for ways to improve our friendships, relationships, and our social and business interaction with others.


Wood, Julia T. Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, 7th Edition. (Make sure you get the 7th Edition and not a prior edition.

The Wood text is the leading textbook on Interpesonal communication. It is expensive to buy (about $150) in its paper edition, but much less expensive in electronic editions. I recommend getting a electronic copy that runs on your computer, tablet, or e-reader. Both Barnes and Noble and Amazon rent electronic version of the text for roughly a third that price ($40-$50) and sell it for about $130.  Prices of used copies in the bookstore and online will vary, but be sure to get the 7th edition. I have not provided the bookstore with information about this text, but there were eight copies there on Thursday.

The electronic version works on computers, tablets, and smartphones as specified by the supplier (Amazon, B&N, etc). Amazon supplies free Kindle software that you can download to your computer to read the text.  So does Barnes and Noble.  I read my copy on my iPad using the Kindle tablet application for iPad. Other e-book software should work with electronic editions available from other booksellers, including Barnes and Noble. I find the electronic version more readable than the text version, but it's your choice. The only option you don't have is to NOT read the assigned chapters in the text.

Additional Materials

Learning Objectives

  1. Students should understand a variety of interpersonal communication theories well enough to usefully apply them to improving their own communication and understanding the communication successes and failures of others.

  2. Students should be able to distinguish the fundamental structures and processes associated with interpersonal communication, whether mediated or face to face, and usefully compare the different theories they have studied.
  3. Students should know how to find, read, and analyze research in interpersonal communication, including theoretical descriptions of the communication process, empirical tests of those theories, and systematic observations of real world communication.

Outcomes Assessment

  1. 7% Participation in Class Discussions.
  2. 7% Submission of Questions based on the course readings. Each student should submit two questions based on each set of readings before the class at which those readings are due.
  3. 6% Submission of Think Assignments assigned over the course of the trip. Each student should respond to any think assignment provided before the class at which it is due.
  4. 10% Reflective Paper on Interpersonal Skills
  5. 5% Interpersonal Resume
  6. 25% Term Paper
  7. 10% Annotated Bibliography and Outline for Term Paper
  8. 10% Mid-Term Exam
  9. 20% Final Exam

Course Rules

  1. Attendance is required for all classes, including the final exam period. Please be on time.

  2. Complete reading assignments, questions, and think assignments prior to coming to class. Be prepared to discuss readings.
  3. Write in your own words. Reference the ideas you use to the original sources. Plagiarism and cheating will are unacceptable.
  4. Unexcused late papers will be penalized 1/2 of a letter grade if one period late and one full grade thereafter.
  5. Like many of you, I come to Brooklyn College on the Subway. I endeavor to arrive on campus at least an hour before class every week, but I don't control the Subways. If I am late for class and you have not heard directly from me that class is cancelled, do not leave. Instead, form groups to discuss your questions from the reading assignments. I'll will ask you about those discussions WHEN I arrive.
  6. We have a lot to do during the semester. If I seek to end a discussion (often by saying "let's discuss this after class) I have a good reason for doing so. Please respect the rest of the class by deferring such discussion when I ask you to do so. If you are afraid you'll forget, write down a few words about the issue on a piece of paper. That's usually all you'll need.

Good Advice

  1. The reading and writing load for this course is moderate, but needs to be done. If you can't keep up with the readings, papers, or other assignments, you may want to drop the course early on and try again in another semester.

  2. Keep a copy of anything you submit, just in case the original gets lost.  It's good practice to write your questions and think assignments in a memo tool or text editor (but not a word processor) and doing a cut and paste from the original to the moodle.
  3. Write your name on the front of any assignment you submit on paper.
  4. Assuming you work on a computer, maintain backups of your paper in a reliable and convenient format. USB flash drives work on just about all computers now, can be readily obtained for less than $20.00, and are much less likely to fail than disks. Assume the worst. Maintain two backups. A virtual backup using Google Drive, Dropbox, or some similar service is a good idea.
  5. If at any time you find yourself confused or have questions, especially in terms of the writing assignments, please ask me (either in class or in private) for help. One person's question may help countless others in class. If you can't meet me during my office hours, we can probably find another time.
  6. Please speak with me confidentially if you have a disabling condition that may require some accommodation in class. I'm here to help.

Attendance Policy

Attendance is mandatory. The Brooklyn College Bulletin states that "Students are expected to attend all scheduled sessions of every class for which they register. Students late for class may be excluded from the room. An instructor may consider attendance and class participation in determining course grade." While I am unlikely to lock the door, I will take account of missed class time in computing grades. You should not, as a general note, ask me for "permission" to miss class. While I will try to be understanding of documented emergencies, the basic reality (which has more to do with your ability to learn when you aren't in class than anything else) is that absences make your grade grow smaller.