Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 07:52:34 MST
                                        From: Renee Buchanan []

University of Utah
Ren,e Houston
Communication 417
"Communication in Organizations"
first taught Fall 1997
5 quarter credits

COM 417 "Communication in Organizations" (5). Examines the role of communication in defining and achieving organizational goals. Assessment and development of organizational communication systems. Students are expected to perform a minimum of 24 hours per quarter of service to a non-profit organization as well as providing them with a communication needs assessment report. Taught A, W, and S.

Criteria 1: Students service experience consists of volunteering 3 hours a week for eight weeks for a non-profit agency

Criteria 2: Students act as participant-observers while working for an organization. The observations they make are based on both the course text, Senge's The Fifth Discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization, as well as a course reader that breaks down organizational variables and provides focused observation (see course syllabi for details)

Criteria 3: Students are required to write weekly papers, or what I call "research notes" that are focused observations (based on readings) of the organization which creates a notebook of observations. The criteria for these observations may be found in the syllabi under " Research Notebook".

Criteria 4: While learning the course material is important, understanding its application to real organizations is crucial. Students use course materials as the backbone to create, in concert with their group members, a communication/systems needs assessment. This is a written report that is turned in to the instructor for a grade, as well as to the agency. Conclusions of these reports are also presented to the class.

Criteria 5: As previously mentioned, organizations are the recipients of a professionally designed report. They are also invited to come hear the class presentations. If they do not attend, the instructor contacts the organization to discuss both the students' performances and the final report. While collecting their, research notes, students, are also encouraged to talk to organizational members to "validate " their observations.

Criteria 6: Students are given to articles to read and then discuss in class on civics. Also, because the course material addresses surfacing assumptions, we spend a good amount of time discussing students' observations of non-profit centers' clients.

Criteria 8: As mentioned previously, students spend at least 15 percent of each class discussing experiences and relating course concepts to their observations of their service-learning sites.

Course texts:

Senge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Currency-Doubleday.

Required Course Reader available at Waking Owl

Two additional required readings will be available the second week at Marriott Library

Course Description: The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a systems approach to the study of organizational communication.

Course Objectives:

  1. Identify and understand systems theories
  2. Identify key concepts and relationships within systems theories
  3. Use each of the concepts as a basis for self-analysis and for an organizational communication evaluation
  4. Conduct an organizational communication evaluation as a community service project.

ADA Statement: "It is our desire that all of our students fully participate in the curriculum of our department. But we need your assistance. If you have a disability or condition that compromises your ability to complete the requirements of this course, you must notify the instructor immediately. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodations be provided for students with physical, sensory, cognitive, systems, learning, and psychiatric disabilities. Please contact the instructor of this course at the beginning of the quarter to discuss any such accommodations for this course."

    Assignments                             %
    Exam I                                  25%
    Exam H                                  25%
    Service Learning                        20%
    Research Notebook                       20%
    Attendance/Participation/Questions      10%
    TOTAL                                   100%

Service Learning Group - You will participate in a service learning project in which you will master course content by reflecting on it "in the field". Your service experience win consist of volunteering 3 hours a week for eight weeks for some community service which will provide you with a background to create, in concert with your other group members, a communication/systems needs assessment. This will be a written report that will be turned in to both the instructor and the agency, and will be presented to the class.

On the day of the presentation your group will turn in:

  1. A written outline of the presentation (given to the instructor prior to the presentation).
  2. Your final needs assessment paper (written in collaboration with all group members).
  3. A journal of your group experience (a reflection paper assessing the usefulness of systems in your own personal experience with the service organization you worked for. What types of experiences have occurred in your group that reflect course concepts?)

Research Notebook Instructions: Entries are: 2 pp. in length, typed, double-spaced, 1.5" margin on the left, I" margins on the remaining sides, grammatically correct, proper spelling and punctuation, and be neat in appearance. Entries are to be held together in a report cover which allows entries to be placed cumulatively as they are due. Please do not purchase large 3-ring binders. The reader for the course is topically arranged for corresponding entries. Please read the corresponding reading selection before attempting to write your entries. Research note entries should show evidence of your completion of the reading. This means use the concepts both from the text (if applicable) and the readings in your entries.

Topic: Date due:

  1. Environment 4/16
  2. Networks 4/23
  3. Structure 4/30
  4. Leadership 5/7
  5. Personal Mastery I 5/14
  6. Personal Mastery II 5/21
  7. Power 5/28
  8. Vision 6/4

Attendance Policy: Class attendance is required. Class activities, discussions and presentations constitute a major portion of the course, therefore missed classes cannot be made up. Students will earn attendance points by turning in questions each class period.

Exams: The midterm and final exams will be a combination of short answers (identifications) and essays.

Class Questions: Each class period, you should come to class with at least one prepared question based on the readings or previous class discussion. You may be called on to share our question, but normally will be provided the opportunity to volunteer. The question(s) should be written on a piece of paper with your name on them. They will be used to take attendance.

Participation Policy: Part of successful learning is achieved through classroom interaction. The participation is actually a grade. I suggest you do not assume it is used only for deciding borderline grades.

Remember - prevention is the best course of action. If you are unclear or need help on your assignments, see me before they are due.