CMST101: Intro to Communication

Summer 2015 Syllabus

Welcome to our class!

Welcome to our class!

My name is Jenni Spencer and I'll be your instructor for this class. I think you are really going to enjoy this class.

One of the reasons I enjoy teaching communication classes is that it's an interesting, applicable and ever-changing area of study. There are always things for us to talk about and ways for us to improve our skills. There will be more on my background and teaching philosophy/expectations later.

For now, let's get acquainted with the course. Our syllabus contains essential information about assignments, expectations, and policies that you will need to be successful in the class. Please take the time to carefully read each section.

Watch the Welcome Video to get an idea of topics we will cover in this class

Welcome video-CMST101

Instructor Contact Information

INSTRUCTOR: Jenni Spencer

E-MAIL: through Canvas email or

  • The Canvas email address is the best way to reach me.
  • If you send an e-mail to my SFCC address, please put your name and/or course number in the subject area.

PHONE: (509) 850-0565

  • You may call anytime between 9am - 7 pm; you may text me anytime.
  • I may not be able to immediately answer your call/text, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
  • Please make sure it's clear who called or sent the text so that I can respond appropriately.
  • If you have a Google Voice account you can also call me through your computer for free.

VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

AVAILABILITY: Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

  • I'm regularly online Monday-Friday (usually twice a day) and try to return emails within 24 hours. If you haven't heard from me within 48 hours, please assume that I didn't receive your message and resend it.
  • I'm also online during the weekends, but the hours are more irregular.

Required Materials

  • O'Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Imrich Mullin, D., & Teven, J. (2015). Real communication (2nd ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. (ISBN- 9780312644208)


You will need a webcam for delivering your speeches as well as participating in the optional weekly live sessions. There are a variety of options for meeting this requirement.

  • A webcam in your laptop or attached to your desktop works the best.
  • There are several laptops with webcams at the SFCC library that you can check out. However, these are on a first come first served basis.
  • You can use an iPad or other tablets that have a camera.
  • You could also ask your family and friends if they have a computer with a webcam you could borrow.
  • Finally, if you want to buy an external webcam the cost would be between $10-30

MICROPHONE (Either through a headset or your laptop)

  • You will need access to a microphone to participate in the live sessions.
  • The best option would be a headset you plug into your computer that includes headphones and a microphone. This will cut down on any external noise in the room when you record/speak.
  • If you would like to buy your own set, the prices range from $10-20 (they are really useful if you are doing other online classes in Canvas or classes with an online conference component, or Skype, etc.).
  • Before buying a headset check to see if you have a built in microphone in your laptop or through an external webcam.
  • You can borrow a laptop computer with webcam and mic from the SFCC library or a headset from the branch campus centers.

Access to reliable internet
  • You will need to have a reliable and consistent internet connection to easily attend the Live Sessions and deliver your Informative Speech. If you don't have a good internet connection you will need to have a back-up plan (i.e. a friend's or family member's house, the school campus, the public library, etc.).

  • You will be asked to NOT use the Google Chrome or Safari browsers during the Live Sessions/Informative Speech. Please have a back-up browser downloaded and ready to use.

The necessary software to run Canvas
  • Read through the Canvas help links to see if your computer is able to efficiently run Canvas.

Course Descriptions


This course surveys the field of communication. It teaches students the theories and skills associated with effective interpersonal, small group, and public communication. Emphasis is on in-class activities and on improving the student’s confidence in a variety of communication settings. Students receive at least 11 (eleven) hours of instruction in topical research, speech organization and support, and writing expository and persuasive prose for the purpose of oral delivery in an academic setting. Prerequisite: SFCC only: recommended minimum reading placement score: COMPASS 80, ASSET 40.


This course is designed to provide a holistic, although not comprehensive, introduction to the study and practice of human communication. CMST 101 will provide you with opportunities to practice the skills and theories explored in class in order to become a more effective communicator. Specifically, students who successfully complete this course will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the elements and the transactional nature of communication.

  • Recognize and accept causes of perceptual differences.

  • Demonstrate use of improved listening skills.

  • Effectively interact in group activities, discussions, and presentations.

  • Speak clearly, accurately, and fluently with a sense of continuity.

  • Construct speech outlines incorporating a thesis statement and specific purpose.

  • Effectively use research and other supporting material to back up claims orally and in writing.

  • Refute and defend ideas in an assertive rather than an aggressive manner.

  • Accept responsibility of public voice and its role in the public dialog.

  • Write (a) paper/s that develop central and subordinate ideas toward a linear conclusion/s.


This class has a live session component. We will have weekly live sessions (time and day to be determined after polling the class) completely ONLINE.

  • We will use the Live Sessions to discuss weekly assignments and course concepts. This is also a good time to ask your questions.

  • If you cannot attend the live session, there is a make-up assignment to complete. Students in previous terms overwhelmingly said these sessions were useful and that they wished everyone would attend them.

  • In addition to the regular weekly live sessions, you will also be delivering an informative speech to the class in a live session. The days for the Informative speech are scheduled, but the specific times will be determined after polling the class. This assignment is a requirement for passing the class so you must be able to attend a 15 minute conference and 1 of the live online speech sessions. Please make arrangements to your schedule as soon as possible. There is also the opportunity to deliver your self-introduction speech in a Live Session.

  • This is a technology intensive course. Beyond Canvas, we use Adobe Connect, Big Blue Button (in Canvas), Respondus Lockdown Browser, and Google Slides as well as your webcam and mic system. While you do not need to be fluent in these programs ahead of time, you do need to feel comfortable learning and using technology.

Learning Expectations

  • Success is your choice! If you choose to be successful, I will be happy to help you. Please visit with me about any questions, suggestions, or concerns you have with this class. I will provide you with the information and tools to be successful in the class as well as give you constructive feedback on your work. Every student has the potential to succeed in this class.

  • Respect is one of the foundations of an environment conducive to learning. Therefore, it is necessary to create a positive and respectful learning environment where all speakers can feel comfortable. I expect everyone to be courteous and respectful of others: rude, sexist, racist or disrespectful comments or behavior will not be tolerated.

  • One of the most important aspects of learning is being able to listen. As you listen to your classmates, you should be attentive and supportive. Everyone has something valuable to contribute to the class’ learning and to each individual’s success in the course.

  • Class discussion and activities will build from the reading so it is necessary that you complete the reading before completing online assignments. We will not be able to discuss everything covered in the readings, but you will be responsible for the content.

  • Online classes are meant to be equivalent to face-to-face classes. That being said, online classes can often be more time consuming due to the time it takes to read through discussion boards/ assignments and type responses (most of us can talk faster than we can read and type). Also, for students new to the online class environment it may take some time to learn how to navigate and use the online Canvas platform. The SFCC website has the following information about online classes: a) "There are regular deadlines – usually weekly" b) "An online class is not a self paced course" and c) "In a face to face (F2F) 5 credit class a student spends one hour a day in class getting familiar with the material and then has homework. Just as in a F2F class the student should spend five days a week, an hour a day getting familiar with the information. In addition they will need to spend additional time on homework. What is different is that there is no set time of day for the student to work on the class. There are no class meetings on campus."

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t wait until it is too late to ask for help.

  • It is your responsibility to thoroughly read and understand the syllabus.

College Policies


If you have a health condition or disability that may require accommodations in order to fully participate in this class, please contact the onsite campus counselor. Information about any disability will be regarded as confidential. Information about the SFCC Disability Support Services can be found at:

Students who have a letter of accommodation should communicate with the instructor as soon as possible.


Plagiarism is using other people’s work and ideas without giving them credit. This is a violation of both SFCC’s rules and regulations and the rules of this class. See the Student Conduct Code: Cheating or plagiarism of any kind may result in one of the following consequences: a zero on the assignment, lowering of your grade by one whole grade, and/or a grade of “F” for the course. Additional college penalties are also possible. This applies to work on all individual assignments including quizzes, papers, and speeches. The purpose of the course is for you to learn – you do not learn by copying someone else’s work.


In the event that you need to withdraw from the course, community college policy dictates that it is your responsibility to do so by the final drop date. Refer to “student resources” on the SFCC homepage for this information

Students receiving financial aid should ALWAYS check with the Financial Aid office prior to withdrawing, signing an incomplete contract, or if they may be earning an F in the class.


This class uses the Early Alert Program. If I observe that you are struggling academically (for example, poor attendance, low scores, missing assignments, lack of participation), I will submit an Early Alert for you, and a member of the Early Alert team will contact you and connect you with appropriate campus resources to support you in meeting your academic goals. This alert is a heads-up for you and indicates that I am concerned about your progress. The noted issues need to be addressed immediately so that you can be successful. If you are contacted about an Early Alert, please respond as soon as possible so that you can get the resources, support, and strategies you need to be successful in this and other classes. You may also refer yourself or a friend who might be struggling. Just click the green EA button on the SFCC homepage and complete the form:

Course Policies


I believe education is a process, not a product. An integral part of that process involves class attendance, without regular attendance, the process is incomplete and fragmentary.

  • In the online environment it's up to you to regularly participate. Class assignments build upon each other and allow you to check your comprehension of the material before moving on. You will not get as much out of the class nor be as successful without regular participation. It's expected that you log in to Canvas at least 3 times a week, with no more than 3 days between logins. This will help you keep up with the class and receive important announcements.

  • Class participation is important for the success of the class. You have communication experience and sharing that experience with the rest of the class improves the quality of class discussion and student learning. Additionally, it is easy to get behind in an online class. Regular participation will keep you on track with the weekly assignments and activities.

  • If you find yourself having difficulty keeping up, please talk to me before dropping the class


The course is organized into weeks. There is flexibility to complete these assignments on your own time as long as you submit each week's assignments by Sunday at 11:59 pm. There are a few exceptions and they are clearly noted on the weekly overviews and announcements.

  • Due dates are firm. With the exceptions of verifiable, documented medical or other emergencies late work is not accepted. This means that you will not receive any credit for unexcused late work. In emergency cases, you or someone on your behalf should contact me before the deadline.

  • In cases of documented community college-related, medical, deployment, or religious holiday scheduling conflicts, you are responsible for making alternative arrangements with me as soon as possible before the deadline.

  • Points may be subtracted for work that is incomplete

  • It is your responsibility to allow time for computer glitches, including typing in the wrong email address, a server that is not working, or printer problems. In other words, don’t wait until the last minute. You must have reliable internet access. Always have a back-up plan. “My internet was down” isn’t a valid reason for late assignments.

  • You must complete the Informative Speech assignment to be eligible to pass the course.

  • I am usually very willing to work with you if you experience difficulties, as long as you contact me before the deadline. If you experience difficulties that prevent you from completing an assignment on time, you must contact me (email/call/text) BEFORE the deadline has passed. In most cases, if you contact me before the deadline we can make alternative arrangements. Students who contact me about an emergency situation AFTER the deadline will need to provide written documentation as to the nature of the emergency.


While most of us have been socialized to classrooms since childhood, there are some things we take for granted and may need to be reminded of when working in an online environment. I have listed a few of these below:

  • An online classroom is still a classroom. Please remember to be respectful of your fellow classmates. It is ok to disagree, but make sure to do it in a respectful and productive manner. Given that this is a communication class, remember to think about the language you use. I am not talking about bad vs. good words, but rather formality vs. informality. Sometimes our online language becomes too casual. Additionally, remember that language is easily misinterpreted in written communication. In general, the guidelines we use for effective and respectful communication in the classroom also apply to the online classroom.

  • Remember to read/listen to all of the posts first before responding. This will ensure that we aren't repeating commentary. If you agree with what someone wrote, say that and then expand on their point. You need to add something new to the dialogue.

  • REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW before hitting the send button. One key element about communication is that it is irreversible. You cannot always take back a comment once it has been said. By reviewing what you write before you post it, you will avoid that age old problem of needing to stick your foot in your mouth because of something you said.

  • When posting, write concisely and stay on topic. The online environment requires more reading and is not the place for what I call “fluff.” It is not the quantity of what you write that you will be graded on, but the quality.

  • If at any time you feel you have been treated rudely or inappropriately, please bring it to my attention so I can deal with it immediately. As your instructor, I am committed to everyone feeling welcomed and valued in this classroom.


The following descriptions are provided for your reference.

1. HOMEWORK (135 points – may vary)

Each week there will be a variety of short homework and online activity assignments. These application activities are designed to assist you in learning the course content. Unless specified on the weekly schedule, assignments are due each week by Sunday at 11:59 pm


The purpose of this speech is to introduce yourself to the class and gain practice delivering speeches and using your webcam. This speech can be videotaped and uploaded to Canvas OR can be delivered live for some extra credit points. The speech is 2-4 minutes long.

3. INFORMATIVE SPEECH (110 points)

In this assignment, you will be required to inform your audience about a process, event, concept, or object. This speech is 5-6 minutes in length and visual aids are required. You will deliver this speech to your peers in a live online session.


After completing your informative speech you will be asked to objectively watch and then analyze your speech in an essay format. This paper is 3-4 pages in length.

5. GROUP PROJECT (50 pts.)

You will work with 3-4 of your peers in a mini-group project that explores various communication concepts studied over the term. It is expected that you can conduct the entire project together online.

6. QUIZZES (150 pts. - 10 @ 15 pts. each)

There will be 11 chapter quizzes throughout the term and your lowest score will be dropped. The quizzes will primarily focus on identification and understanding of the chapter’s key terms/concepts. In general, because your lowest quiz score is dropped a missed quiz cannot be made up.


Quiz 11 must be taken between , Monday, August 17 at 12 a.m. and Friday, August 21 by 11:59 p.m. The Quiz will not be given early to accommodate vacation plans.

Still Unsure About Taking This Class?

Read through the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Required Survey

Now that you've read through the syllabus, please take the following survey to tell me about your goals and your readiness to take this course. You will receive credit for this in Canvas.
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