Interpersonal Communication

Course Details

Course Number
SPCH 2423
Section Number
SPCH 2423
Fall 2015
Fain Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times


(Sec. 103) 12:30- 1:50PM / Meeting Place: FA B114

Christopher P. D'Amico M.S. (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Course Objectives

Course Description

This course is intended to develop your understanding of the interpersonal communication process. This course will provide you with some of the conceptual and research tools necessary for the study of interpersonal communication as a social science. We will concentrate on developing a systematic understanding of the process of interpersonal communication.


Primary Course Learning Objectives:


·       Terms critical to analyzing interpersonal communication behaviors and communication


·       Theories and principles of interpersonal communication


·       Skills needed to be a successful team-member and presenter in groups


·       Skills necessary to enhance your critical thinking, researching, and writing 

Course Expectations

*Required Text:           


Trenholm, S. & Jensen, A. (2011). Interpersonal Communication (7th ed.). New York: Oxford.

ISBN # 0199827508


*Note:  The textbook is your responsibility.  You are to keep up with the readings in the textbook as we progress through the course.  You do not need to bring the text to class, but if you wish to have it and use it during class that is your call. Be prepared to walk into our classroom ready to discuss what you have previously read.


Suggested Supplement:


Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition). Washington, DC: APA





Attendance: Successful completion of the course requires regular class attendance at lectures and active participation in class discussions and group projects

·      More than four (4) absences (excused or unexcused) will result in ten (10) points deducted from your final grade. After seven (7) absences you will fail the course. Habitual late arrivals to class will be considered an absence at the professor’s discretion.


·      Individuals on sports teams, please see me with a copy of your schedule (games and practices) so we can make accommodations for those missing classes.  This however must be initiated and followed through by the athlete not the instructor’s responsibility.


·      I expect common courtesy and civility:  Do not speak when someone else is talking (that includes your instructor!).  I appreciate a sense of humor, but you should know when to get serious.  Offensive comments directed towards the instructor or other students are not appropriate.  Inappropriate behavior will bring down your final grade at the discretion of the instructor.  If for any reason you need to leave the classroom while in session, please be considerate to the rest of the class and do it in a quite non-disruptive manner!


·      You must print your name on the sign in sheet that will be in the front of the classroom as you come in.  Once I begin class, I draw a line and those that come late to class will sign in below that line, at the end of class before leaving.  This sign in process is your responsibility.  If you don’t sign it you will not be counted as present for the day.  I keep all the sheets by dates in a binder kept in my office.  If for some reason you would like to check on the number of absences/late arrivals, please stop by my office and you may look at where you stand.  


·      No late work will be accepted.  All work that due is to be handed in during class time.  NO EXCEPTIONS!


                                                                 i.     In addition, when an exam is given, it must be completed during the class it is given. No makeup exams or pre/post arrangements are made.  Only documented and verified excused absences, (as supplied by the Office of the Provost) will be given an opportunity for any make up.    


·      It is your responsibility to find out what you missed in the event of absence from class.  I recommend befriending another classmate and exchange contact information so you can find out what you missed and not fall behind schedule. 


·      If you have a group project scheduled for that day it is your responsibility to for you to reach your fellow group members to plan accordingly.  You group will still present as scheduled. Groups will be formed randomly out of a hat by the professor in class to ensure fairness to all. 


·      Please notify the instructor of any religious obligations that might conflict with our class schedule at the beginning of the semester.


Requirements for all written work:

ALL work submitted in this course should be prepared according to the following guidelines:

·      Papers must be typed, double-spaced in 12-point font in Times New Roman, with 1-inch margins.

·      Pages must be numbered in the top, right-hand corner of each page.

·      Papers must be stapled together (not paper-clipped). No loose pages please.

·      Papers should have a cover page with a title, your name, course identifier, and date.

·      Do not use folders, binders, or plastic covers for your papers; attach only a cover sheet as indicated above and use one staple to secure all pages together.

·      Papers must include accurate and complete citations of sources and a complete reference list.

·      You should follow the guidelines of the APA style manual.


                                                                 i.     Revision Policy: I believe all work is in a constant process of revision.  Therefore, I invite and encourage you to rework your assignments.  A revision, however, means more than just changing some grammar errors and typos.  It requires you to rethink, recognize and rewrite your work.  As a rule of thumb, I never drop your grade based upon a revision.  The lowest grade you will receive is the original grade. There is only a one (1) week window of opportunity for you to revise and resubmit. (Example- If I hand back a paper on Tuesday, then the revision is due next Tuesday.) Please be sure to include the original graded paper with the revision without it a revision will not be accepted.



Writing Center:  Begin drafting papers as early as possible and take advantage of the MSU Writing Center, located off the 2nd floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager! Tutoring is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; you can also find a tutor at the satellite location in Moffett Library Honors Lounge, Sunday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Writing tutors will not edit your papers for you, but they will provide support and feedback at every stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to drafting, revising to proofreading.


Plagiarism:  Clear cases of academic dishonesty will result in an F for the course.  Plagiarism is (1) the use of source material of other persons (either published, including the Internet) without following the accepted techniques of giving credit or (2) the submission for credit of work not the individual’s to whom credit is given.  If a student in the class is caught plagiarizing, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.  The Student Creed developed and adopted by the MSU Student Government reinforces the discouragement of plagiarism and other unethical behaviors.  The first statement of the Creed reads, “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.”  Plagiarism is lying cheating and stealing. 


Privacy: Federal law prohibits the instructor from releasing information about students to parties outside of the university without the signed consent of the student.  Thus, in almost all cases the instructor will not discuss a student’s academic progress or other matters with his/her parents. 


Special Accommodations: If a student has a disability that qualifies under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and requires accommodations, he/she should contact Disability Support Services (DSS) for information on appropriate polices and procedures.  Disabilities covered by ADA may include learning, psychiatric, physical disabilities, or chronic health disorders.  Students can contact DSS if they are not certain whether a medical condition/disability qualifies.  Disability Support Services, Clark Student Center, Room 168, (940) 397-4140.





Course Outline

(subject to change with notice from the instructor)



25th& 27th                         Class:                                    Topic: Why study interpersonal communication?

Course introduction, policies, and grading


                                    Assignment:                         Read Chapters 1 & 2

                                                                        Work on “The Self Paper”



1st & 3rd                           Class:                                     Review, lecture & In-class exercises

Chapter 1: Communication & Competence 

Chapter 2: Building Interpersonal Relationships


                                    Assignment:                          Read Chapters 3 & 4

                                                                        Work on “The Self Paper”

 (Sept. 4th last day to add/drop)


8th & 10th                          Class:                                    The Self Paper” Due 10th

Groups will form

Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

Chapter 3: Nonverbal Communication

Chapter 4: Language and Interpersonal Communication


                                    Assignment:                          Read Chapters 5

                                                                        Work on O&R Paper


15th & 17th                          Class:                                     Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

Chapter 5: Listening


                                    Assignment:                          Start studying for Midterm Exam (Chapters 1-5)

                                                                        Work on O&R Paper


22nd & 24th                                Class:                                     Review, lecture & In-class exercises

                                    Chapter 6: Perceiving and Interpreting Social


O&R Paper Due 24th


                                    Assignment:                          Study for Midterm Exam on 1st







29th & 1st                         Class:                                     Review, lecture & In-class exercises

Midterm on 1st


Assignment:                          Group # 1 will present on 6th

Read: Chapters 7: Meeting Social Expectations



6th & 8th                           Class:                                     Group # 1 will present on 6th

Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

Chapters 7: Meeting Social Expectations


Assignment:                        Group # 2 will present on the 13th

Read Chapter 8: Establishing Individual Identities



13th & 15th                           Class:                                    Group # 2 Presents on 13th                                                                                                                         Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

Chapter 8: Establishing Individual Identities


                                    Assignment:                        Group # 3 will present on the 20th

Read Chapter 9: Achieving Personal and Relational Goal


20th & 22nd                           Class:                                     Group # 3 presents on 20th                                                                                                                         Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

Chapter 9: Achieving Personal and Relational Goals


Assignment:                        Group # 4 presents 27th

Read Chapter 10: Understanding Family Relationships


(Oct. 26th last day to W from a class)


27th & 29th                           Class:                                    Group # 4 presents 27th

Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

Chapter 10: Understanding Family Relationships


                                    Assignment:                         Group # 5 presents on the 3rd

                                                                        Read Chapter 11: Creating Intimate Relationships







3rd & 5th                           Class:                                    Group # 5 presents on the 3rd

                                                                                                            Review, lecture & In-class exercises:

                                                                        Chapter 11: Creating Intimate Relationships


Assignment:                        Read: Chapter 12: Managing Professional



10th & 12th                           Class:                                    Review, Lecture & Discussion:

                                                                        Chapter 12: Managing Professional Relationships


Assignment:            Read: Chapter 13 Interpersonal Communication, Culture and Change



17th & 19th                           Class:                                    Chapter 13: Interpersonal Communication, Culture

and Change

                                                                        Review, Lecture & Discussion


                        Assignment:                        None


24th               Class:                         Hand back and go over group grades and



Assignment:                         Study for Final Exam


25th -27th                         No Classes --- Thanksgiving Break----




1st & 3rd                           Class:                                    Review & Discussion:           

                                                                        Continued….  What’s next?


Assignment:                         Study for Final Exam



Final Exam:                          Section 103: Thursday, Dec. 10th 10:30-12:30PM



Final Exam Note: You will take your final exam in class on the day and time specific to your section enrollment. 






MPj04386800000[1]Evaluation Criteria           


Professional Conduct (includes: Attendance, Active Class Verbal Participation, In-class projects, etc.)                                                            20 pts.


Self- Paper (3pgs min/max)                                                                        10 pts.


Midterm                                                                                                20 pts.


Observation & Research Paper (2-4pgs)                                                15 pts.


Group Presentation                                                                                     15 pts.


Final Exam                                                                                                20 pts.

Total Possible                                                                                                 100 pts


       Grades will be determined on as follows:  A, B, C, D, and F.


Observation & Research Paper


You are expected to write and submit one observation & research paper this term.  This paper needs to be at least 2-4 pages in length.  You are to follow the appropriate format as outlined in this syllabus.  This paper is intended to allow you to begin to contemplate material relevant to the theories we discuss in class.  Explain and apply some of the ideas and concepts covered in the first four chapters of our texts after observing a couple you know for a half hour.  Watch carefully for all the ways, both verbal and nonverbal, the partners control and influence one another.  How do they differ from each other in terms of control?  How do they seek and react to feedback attempts?  What inferences can you make about their relationship? 

Using what you have read in our text, lectures and discussions, you are to backup your conclusions with a primary research article (subjects & methods).  What are your reactions to the research?  Did you agree or disagree with the study’s hypothesis, why or why not?  How do you view the results?  Any thoughts you have about future communication research?  How does the article relate back to your observation?  Explain in detail.  This paper should be clear concise and to the point! 



There will be two exams, a midterm and a final.  Both exams will include “objective” questions.  All course material (i.e. lectures, class exercises, and readings) will be covered in these exams.


The Self Paper (3 pages maximum):


This paper, which is reflective and analytical in nature, focuses upon your self-concept and interpersonal communication style. In your self-evaluation, consider the following:

First, how do you view yourself?  To adequately address this viewpoint, reflect upon your self-concept.  From where does your image of self emerge?  What roles do you play?  What is your life script?  Consider self-identifying statements (“I am…”), evaluative (“I like…”), or behavioral (“I have done…”).  What does this reveal about your self-concept?


Second how do you interact and communicate with others?  In answering this question, describe how culture and gender may influence your communication style.  Consider and discuss the use of language, non-verbal cues, listening skills, etc. In verbal strategies, do you use techniques such as paraphrasing, and seeking and/or providing feedback?  In what situations do you tend to self-disclose vs. avoid self-disclosure?  How does face management come into play?  Identify communication behaviors and discuss how your behavior in different situations has impacted others.

Third, how do others view you?  Interview at least three people (family, friends (not in this class), colleagues, professors, employers) and gather their observations and feedback in terms of how you interact and communicate.  Focus on behaviors and be sure to include specific examples that capture their perceptions.

Fourth, compare and contrast your self-view with others perceptions of you.  Discuss similarities or differences in perception.  Were there any discrepancies or gaps that surprised you?  If so, what factors would account for the gaps in perception.  

Finally, make some suggestions for the improvement of your interpersonal communication competence.  Consider the results of various interactions (both positive and difficult).  What would you change?  What are some issues (related to communication behavior, self-concept, and cultural awareness) you want to work on within yourself?

Use the text to help you analyze and explain your interpersonal communication style and self-concept.  Employ specific references (paraphrasing, terminology, and quotations) concepts, and theories, correctly citing. 



Group Presentation

You will be assigned to a group with 5 classmates.  Your group will be expected to prepare a 60-minitue presentation for the class.  This needs to be very well practiced because you will ALL lose points if the presentation is too long (65 minutes or longer) or too short (54 minutes or less), Your group’s presentation should be an interactive discussion of the material assigned for that week, focusing primarily on one topic in your assigned chapter for the week and one of the case studies assigned for that week.  The goal of your presentation is to help the class better understand the material being presented—not just restate it!


Each group will need to provide a detailed outline over the chapters they cover.  These outlines will come into play when studying for your final exam.  These outlines, if done correctly, will be used to determine final exam questions over chapters. 


Your presentations are NOT to be lectures.  It is up to your groups to determine an interactive method to help the class better understand the material being discussed and not lecture.  Some interactive methods that could be included, but are not limited to, movie clips, short stories(distrusted in advance),, news articles(distrusted in advance),, research articles(distrusted in advance),, small group work (dividing the class up to work on a related project).  There are countless ways in which you could engage and involve the class, but it’s up to your group to come up with a successful method.  Your goal is to help the class better understand the material assigned for that week- so make sure that your presentations sticks to that focus goal. 


To earn a high grade (A or B), every member of the group must EQUALLY participate in the presentations: its preparation and delivery.  The group (collectively) will be graded on the content, format, and interactivity of the presentation.  Therefore, make certain that everyone in the group is an ACTIVE participant in every phase.  Outlines  should be in depth and handed out in class on the day of your group’s presentation.   


Please feel free to discuss with me, your group’s ideas for class interaction, etc. START PREPARING EARLY & PRACTICE INDIVDUALLY AND COLLEVITLY!


Note: Grades for the group will be determined based on the group’s attainment of the following outcomes objectives:

-       All members of the group being expected to know the details of each other’s content, research, and analysis well enough to discuss it—when asked by instructor or classmates.

-       No more than 3 (3x5) note cards can be used by EACH presenter, talk to the audience, and don’t read to us!

-       The presentation being well practiced.  The group will lose points if it is not within 2 minutes of the assigned time length.

-       Practice, practice, practice----individually and as a group!

-       Avoid lectures and BE CREATIVE in assuring maximum interaction with the audience.





My Paper:

Keep these thoughts in mind when constructing & writing your papers!


  • As your instructor, I am engaged with the task of evaluating your papers on several levels of criteria.  I just would like to point out some areas where it will be a necessary for you to focus on when you begin to write your paper:


  • Does your paper have a thesis statement?         
    • Does it have focus, direction, clarity and originality?


  • Does it have a topic sentence?
    • Does it have clarity, emphasis and relative value to thesis


  • Is your Paper Organized?
    • Logical ideas, development of ideas, and supporting your thesis.


  • Where are your ideas coming from?
    • Choices of information from sources quotes v. paraphrases
    • Introducing, integrating and accuracy of acknowledging material (APA)


  • Reference Page (Bibliography)
    • Where did you pull your information?
    • Is it cited in APA Guideline formats?


  • As the Reader am I persuade by your arguments?
    • Are ideas thoroughly identified and analyzed?


  • Did you use your own thoughts, experiences and understanding of communication concepts?


  • Did you incorporate the various forms of communication: gender/race/class/non-verbal/verbal?


  • Make sure you give your paper a title!

Final Exam

12/10/2015 10:30-12:30PM

Submission Format Policy

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at