UPDATED FOR Fall '09 this online version is slightly more detailed than hardcopy

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 LIST   OF   "CONTRACTED"  INVESTIGATIVE   PROJECTS  [ F '09 ver]   page updated 9/2/09 / pg refs = Beebe 5e

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As part of this course, you are contracted to complete & submit a minimum of  of the attached investigative assignments (or a maximum of 6 - for extra credit) . All of these projects require out-of-class analysis/research/ experimentation/observation, and each one requires about the same amount of work from each individual. The averaged grade received on these projects will =   40  % of the overall semester grade. Please note, or most of this  semester, the submission dates differ for each class section.

Your first project submission* {whichever one you choose} is due by:__ 10/7  [BB]

Your second project submission* {whichever one you choose} is due by: __ 10/28  [BB]

Your third project submission* {whichever one you choose} is due by:____  11/18 [BB]

Your remaining project submissions* {whichever you choose} are due by:____   12/9 [BB]          [[ However, if you are doing extra credit submission you should pre-arrange for interim submission dates ]]

[* "submission" refers to the 2-4 page write up/discussion of the project findings][HARDCOPY / STAPLED / NORMAL FONTS & MARGINS ]

Please note that "The Big Interview" Semester Project which was referred to in the syllabus is an additional, optional assignment which is NOT part of this current list of projects.

As with all of the assignments in this course, the underlying rationale of these "Contracted  Investigative Projects"  is to provide you with opportunities to:

        (a) increase your own skills of "Interpersonal" interaction (esp. listening, nonverbal awareness, empathy, response skills)         

        (b) better understand the cultural, gender, media, & societal influences upon "Interpersonal" relations and communication encounters.

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The grading of the submitted papers (length = 2-4 pages each) {hardcopy only / stapled / normal font & margins / double spaced} will be based on their uality.  In this context, "quality" includes - but is not limited to - the following items:

   · clear, analytical writing skills. Also, such writing problems as excessive typos, grammatical errors, and incremental plagiarism will result in lowered grades and/or mandatory "do-overs".

  · accurate completion of project’s prescribed procedure; At the end of each project, specifications are given for what is expected in that particular paper. Failure to address these specifications will result in lowered grades. Also, please realize that most papers will need introductory and concluding segments.

  ·   explicit integration of relevant human communication principles as discussed in class & in the text

  ·  insights & perceptions about the dynamics of human communication.


  ·  application of the material studied  [e.g.  as the semester progresses there is a higher & higher expectation for you to incorporate various significantly relevant material that has been covered in the text and/or the notes] 



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During the last few weeks of the semester, each person will have 5-10 minutes to orally present a SUMMARY of his/her (research & project) findings to the class.

(These are listed on course calendar as the Mini-Project Reports) page to be updated

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     shortcuts to    PROJECTS




            #4:  MUSIC ? MUSIC ! [2 ver]

             #5: DYADIC ENCOUNTER: Developing an ongoing relationship


         #7:   YOUR CHOICE [you design it !]

         #8:"WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?"- Diversity & Human Communication / TOLERATING DIFFERENCES[1 ver this semester]


    PROJECT #1


 > Individual Project

 > OBJECTIVE: "Testing your Perceptions"-- The purpose of this activity is to identify some of your own perceptual biases and to generate skills for testing your perceptions more effectively.

  Instructions & Procedure: As humans, our perceptions are subjective, biased, incomplete, and often self-fulfilling. As a result, we have the tendency to draw erroneous inferences about others' behavior. However, you can create more accurate perceptions by learning the following three skills. "Testing Perceptions" requires that you do these three things:

1. DESCRIBE BEHAVIORS that you observe in others. In other words, objectively relate what you believe you are seeing/hearing. Then tell the other person what you have seen her/him say or do. This clarifies (for you for the other person) the actual behaviors that you are perceiving without evaluating or criticizing them.

2.INTERPRET BEHAVIORS [TWICE+] by mentally creating at least two different meanings or reasons that could account for the behaviors you described in step 1. This is because if you can attribute two possible interpretations of another's behavior, this  step will stop you from assuming that your first interpretation is the only "correct" one.

3. REQUEST FEEDBACK FROM THE OTHER from the other person in order to assess the accuracy of your interpretations. Allow the other person to verify this accuracy by agreeing/disagreeing/ providing ANOTHER alternate perception your impressions are valid.

Here's an Abbreviated Example of the 3 steps: "When you didn't show up at 7:00 p.m. as you said you would [BEHAVIOR] , I wasn't sure whether you had forgotten [1st INTERPRETATION] or decided it wasn't important [2nd INTERPRETATION] . Why didn't you keep our appointment? [REQUEST FOR FEEDBACK]

Project Exercise: Test your own perceptions by applying the three skills above to the 4 situations given below. Keep in mind that the purpose of this activity is to consider the overall accuracy and tendencies of  your perceptual patterns. So, you may well find out that your initial impressions could be wrong.

                   #1- You were not invited to attend one of your closest friend's graduation party.

                   #2- Your neighbor's son continues to park his car in a spot that blocks most of your

                        driveway even though you  have requested repeatedly that this stop.

#3- You are working on a group project for a class. One student has been given the responsibility to research your group's topics and report back to the group in a week. Two weeks have gone by and this student still has not contacted the group about this research.

#4- Devise an example from your own experience. Describe the situation and the perceptual distortions that might have resulted. Then test your perceptions to see if a different interpretation emerges.


In the Discussion/Write-up, your paper should also draw on your text's coverage of perception (Chap 3,5e) . In addition to your own insights, address such issues as: The degree to which our perceptions are normally accurate or inaccurate / What accounts for the perceptions we form? / How much of your own ego or needs determines the perceptions you create? / What likely consequences will perception checking have on your interpersonal relationships?


    PROJECT #2


Complete EITHER  A  or  B  or  C

A   -  Family Relationships - The View From TV

> Individual or Dyadic Project

> OBJECTIVE: To look below the surface of the fictitious families of TV (or film). [Of course, real life as depicted via mass media images is not quite "real", but media researchers often debate whether the inherent messages act as reflections of our actual lives or as agents of socialization which shape our behaviors &  expectations .Whichever is true, most of what is shown in TV (or film)  families represents family dynamics that do exist somewhere in the society. 

_Instructions & Procedure: Observe a variety of different television families ( e.g. single parent, nuclear, extended, "blended", extra-terrestrial, etc). Look for common themes, communication patterns, implicit operational rules, and other messages in at least 3-4 different programs/films.

 In the Discussion/Write-up, BASED ON THESE MEDIA IMAGES, what are the conceptual definitions, characteristics, and types of "Family" being depicted?  [also see & incorporate background concepts : 350-357 in the text  5e ]

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B  -  My Family

> Individual Project

> OBJECTIVE: To examine and analyze the interaction dynamics often found in families in general & yours in particular.

>> Instructions & Procedure: As you read the chapter material on family communication [Chap 12] . Keep your own ‘family’ in mind . In your paper, include discussion of how your family has handled the Communication-related skills discussed on pp. 354-357  (5e )                  

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C - A Family Evolves

> Individual Project

> OBJECTIVE: To investigate how families’ develop into their own unique system by trying to trace the source of some of your family’s norms of interaction

Instructions & Procedure: Talk with as many of your "older" relatives as you can about what makes your family unique and/or what gives your family its "personality". If you are in an blended or extended you will need to combine input from a variety of family segments.

Write your paper describing the evolution of your own family. Starting back as far as you can, try to determine which family themes/patterns/roles have survived the generations and which ones have characterized each successive generation.  Listen carefully to the stories & narratives your family members tell. You may also find applicable principles in the chapter on CULTURE & DIVERSITY!


 In the Discussion/Write-up be sure to include specific materials  & concepts from the text & class discussions to help develop your descriptions, explanations, and conclusions about the evolution of your family's systems, customs, and patterns-of-interaction.


    PROJECT #3


> Group Project {i.e. 3-5 people working together not necessarily class members)  = recommended procedure


> OBJECTIVE : To assess the effects of "IMMEDIACY BEHAVIORS" (e.g.  nonverbal "attending" and active listening ) upon interaction & interpersonal relationships)

_Instructions & Procedure:

(1) Each member of the group engages in two interactions with different individuals outside of this class.

     - In Interaction _A_, you should consciously use Nonverbal Attending Behaviors [e.g., facing the speaker, maintaining an open posture, leaning slightly forward, maintaining direct eye contact, using appropriate facial expressions, etc....] as well as using Active Listening Response Behaviors [e.g. paraphrasing thoughts & feelings, vocal backchanneling, etc....].

   - In Interaction _B_ , DON’T use any of these Attending/Listening/Response behaviors.

(2) The other members of your group should be nearby looking on during these interactions in order to observe all of the actions and reactions throughout each situation. They should be close enough to see what's going on but far enough away to have a wide visual perspective.

(3) As a group, compare & contrast each group member's 2 situations with respect to their process and outcomes.

(4) Write one (group) paper in which you: 

    [a.] describe the encounters & the methods you used (e.g. the time, place & circumstances of each encounter and the specific behaviors used/not used) {NB: you might want to indicate this info via a chart}

    [b.] present the findings/results of the encounters {charts & tables would work for this, too}

    [c.] explain the findings/results of the encounters by trying to drawing conclusions about what you discovered (i.e. discuss what your findings mean with respect to communication dynamics).


 In the Discussion/Write-up,  be sure to include materials from the text  (NV & Listening) & class discussions to help develop your descriptions, explanations, and conclusions.

Note, since this is a group paper,  I expect it to be quite comprehensive. You may want to split up the writing duties (e.g. one person in charge of the chart indicating behaviors used & behaviors observed  // one person summarizes/synthesizes the patterns of your findings/results  //  someone else compares your results to the nonverbal/listening/response concepts in the book  //  another person can do some outside reading  & incorporate additional relevant sources, etc.



    PROJECT #4

                                                MUSIC ?  MUSIC ! {complete EITHER A  or  B }

> Individual project [this applies to both A & B]  Complete EITHER  A or


> OBJECTIVE: To increase understanding of the interpersonal values and persuasive (rhetorical) goals reflected in the language ( i.e. lyrics) of contemporary popular music.

>> PROCEDURE:  select & analyze 4 songs, total

(1) Select one song that represents some aspect of the characteristics/values of interpersonal communication (as discussed in the text)--with which you agree. Consider: Why do you agree with these particular characteristics/values?

(2) Then select one song that represents characteristics/values of interpersonal communication (as discussed in the text)--with which you disagree. Consider: Why do you disagree with these particular characteristics/values?

(3) Select one song that seems to represent a particular "culture" within the United States. How is that "culture" being presented and what might this representation imply about the dynamics of about communicating with members of this culture? (i.e. what does the song seem to be saying about how to communicate with that culture/co-culture?)

(4) Select one song that affronts, challenges, or might be offensive to a particular "culture" in the United States. What is the affront and what are the implications of this song in respect to communicating with members of this culture?

In the Discussion/Write-up, use material from the text & class discussions (particularly language / culture) to help develop the descriptions, explanations, & conclusions that you draw from the 4 songs. Remember, song lyrics are a type of "rhetoric" in which the writer expresses his/her implicit or explicit values -- structured in a way as to influence the desired audience.

INCLUDE ALL OF THE FULL SONG LYRICS to illustrate the messages being conveyed.

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> OBJECTIVE: To explore & compare interpersonal messages and social reality reflected in the language (i.e. lyrics) of the music popular during a particular time period.


>> PROCEDURE: {select & analyze 4 songs, total}


(1) Select a particular time period for investigation:1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or 1990s


(2) Research songs related to these specific years, noting attitudes and messages implicitly and explicitly reflected in the lyrics.


(3) Select 4 representative songs to analyze and evaluate by applying various interpersonal communication concepts.( Be aware that 4 songs out of a whole decade is a very small research sample so choose wisely  but objectively. )


In the Discussion/Write-up, realize that this project is actually an examination of Verbal Communication ( i.e. Language & Rhetoric). Use material from the text & class discussions (esp. language/ culture) to help you explain any patterns you may notice in the way in which lyricists use language to express their  view of the reality in a given decade and how they try to communicate that reality to the listeners,  Much has been written about the effects of the messages in music. You may want to do some reading in Mass Communication sources to help you draw your conclusions about  the 4 songs.  


INCLUDE ALL OF THE FULL SONG LYRICS to illustrate the messages being conveyed.





                                    DYADIC ENCOUNTER: Developing an ongoing relationship

> Individual Project


> OBJECTIVE: To explore a current "relationship" in your life via mutual Self Disclosure and controlled risk-taking. All relationships benefit from periodic renewal & re-evaluation.


>> BASIC PROCEDURE: This project should be completed with a person with whom you have had some continuing interaction on a personal level. Prompts have been placed within the list of statements to remind you to use such techniques as paraphrasing, perception checking , and expression-of-feelings.  Please note: this an ORAL, Face-To-Face encounter -- not via phone, not via email, not via letters not via a written questionnaire.

 -Both persons should complete each of the 27 statements, but... [see * below].

-Also, you are encouraged to amplify the discussion by adding to each statement. Proceed with the statements in order, but alternate who responds first. Each partner responds to each statement before continuing the activity.


(1) Be open & accepting of your partner's responses

(2) Talk about your own feelings: use "I" statements rather than "you" statements. 

(3) [*] Feel free to skip any item that makes either of you feel uncomfortable

(4) Use this activity to share information rather than to solve problems or to interrogate

(5) Be willing to take risks 

(6) Be Honest.


1. The first time we met was...

2. The amount of time we have known each other is...

3. The kind of relationship we have is...

4. One adjective to describe our relationship would be...

5. One way in which we are alike is...

6. One way in which we are different is...

7. If our relationship was a movie, it would be called...

8. A peak experience in our relationship was...

9. When we meet new people, I...

10. When I am with you in a social situation, I feel...

11. Right now I feel...

[Listening Check: "Are you saying that...?]

12. One of your greatest assets is ...

13. I am proud of you when...

14. Something you have helped me learn about myself is...

15.One of the feelings with which I have the most trouble is..

16. I assume you know that...

17. If I could make you over, I would never change...

18. I am afraid...

19. I like it when you...

20. You annoy me when...

21. A habit of mine that bothers me most is...

22. Your greatest strength is...

[Listening Check: "Are you saying that...?]

23. If I had all the money in the world, I would...

24. When we have an intellectual discussion...

25. You tend to talk a lot about...

26. When I don't want to answer questions, I...

27. This experience...


NB: There's a 2nd part to this exercise. Let me know if you'd like a copy.

In the Discussion/Write-up, in the paper that you write  for this project, I do NOT need to know all of the actual answers given by you & your partner. Instead, you should write your paper as an analysis. Make use of the material in the text on Relationships--especially  the concepts of stages & maintenance. Pick out the 2-3 significant things that you learned about yourself or your partner or relationships or interactive listening -- whatever was the area of your most significant insights.  Be sure to include materials from the text & class discussions.




> Dyadic Project (possibly Individual)

> OBJECTIVE: To perceive the effects of using verbal confirming, disconfirming, defensive, & supportive behaviors

>> PROCEDURE: Review: Using Words to Establish Supportive Relationships pp.174-181 in your text. (Beebe 5e) Then, "answer" any 5 of the 10 situations (i.e. "role-plays")  on p188 ( #3 bottom-of -page) via hypothetical dialogues  that you create (rather than literally performing ) . Also include specific supports & rationales for your choices. Be sure you know what the word "depict" means, although you will be illustrating the situation rather than acting it . Also be aware that his project is an examination of how language can be used as a TOOL in the creating of positive (or negative) communication situations.

This project is listed as dyadic so that you can gain extra insights & perspectives by discussing your assessments with someone else. What YOU think is confirming or disconfirming may sound different to someone else's ears! The submitted paper can be individually written or it can be a collaborative effort. A collaborative paper should show evidence of each person's work as well as a section discussing how your individual perceptions affected your respective recommendations. 



  YOUR CHOICE [you design it !]

> Individual, dyadic, or small group project

> OBJECTIVE: To complete a project of your own design. You will need to hand in/email an advance outline for your proposal  - - indicating  your Interpersonal "research" objective & specifically what you plan to do. Instructor approval is necessary for any Your Choice project. 

>>PROCEDURE: Whatever the actual project/investigation, the submitted paper for the Your Choice project should follow these guidelines:

1. Select an aspect of interpersonal communication that you wish to study. (recent topics included: Nonverbal in Everyday Life, impact of Facebook/My Space on relationships, Phrenology, the Self Esteem Movement)

2. Read the applicable sections in the text and also read followup references. It may also be helpful to use computerized bibliographic indexes (e.g. PsychcLit, ERIC, Sociofile, etc.).

3. You will be listing these references in the bibliography of the paper. Use APA or MLA style. There should be at least 3 annotated references listed.-- not including the textbook. (i.e. Give 2-3 sentences about the key ideas of each source in your reference list.)

4. Write a paper in which you describe your research & observations and discuss their meaning - in light of the literature in the area.




     "WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?" - Diversity & Human Communication

    > Individual Project

    > OBJECTIVE: " Multicultural Interview": To appreciate cultural diversity and to identify communication similarities and differences in a specific culture.

    Instructions: You should interview someone who is a member of a culture different than yours. "Cultures" include nationality, ethnic, racial, color, generational, gender or sexual groupings. Conduct your interview so that you will be able to answer/address all of these questions below. Note that, as with all good interviews, both parties learn something about themselves as well as each other. When you have completed your interview of the individual, write a paper based on the "discussion" guidelines at the bottom.

    1. What is the nature of the interviewee's culture(s) - Consider ethnicity, co-culture, age, gender, place of origin, & length of residency in the United States [if relevant].
    2. Have there been any misconceptions and stereotypes you [the interviewer] have had to cope with or counteract when interacting with members of your interviewee's co-culture? Is your interviewee aware of these misconceptions/stereotypes that people have about his/her co-culture? How does he/she deal with them?
    3. What values are accepted by your interviewee? These values may include family, religion, personal aspirations, sex/gender roles, etc. How do these values compare to your (the interviewer) own culture? How do they compare to values prevalent in the “mainstream” culture?
    4. What contributions does your interviewee's co-culture make to contemporary "mainstream" society?
    5. Is your interviewee satisfied with the status currently held of her/his co-culture in the United States? Are you satisfied? If not how would you ideally like it to be?
    6. TURNING THE TABLES: From the interviewer's perspective... How do you think others outside of your co-culture perceive you?    How does that perception compare to the way you perceive yourself?  Share & discuss these  insights with your interviewee.
    7. What insights have you gained as a result of this interview?
    8. If you were to "walk a mile in the shoes" of your interviewee, what would it feel like?

Discussion/Writeup: This paper is more than a simple summary of your Interviewee's answers. Summarize the major communication insights gained from this interview experience (by you and/or your interviewee). In addition, identify common themes, common stereotypes, and potential sources of multicultural conflict. Also incorporate relevant background material on culture (from textbook, etc.). Finally, offer some recommendations on ways to improve communication among diverse cultures & co-cultures.

{{ Adptd from S. Downey }}


    Alternate Version for Project #8 - via a production at the Theater-In-The-Round- n.a. for F09



       TOLERATING DIFFERENCES / INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT ‑ Diversity & Human                                                                                                                                                          Communication


     > Individual, dyadic, or small group project

     > OBJECTIVE: To appreciate the concept of co-cultural diversity as depicted in literature/drama and to apply contemporary concepts to (universal) interpersonal dynamics of similarities and differences.  




    >>PROCEDURE: Attend a performance of  THEATER-IN-THE-ROUND  

     Spring '08:  The Merchant of Venice Feb. 29, Mar 1, 2M,  7,8,9M OR  She Stoops to Conquer  Apr 18,19,20M  , 25,26,27M,   Fri & Sat=7:30pm | Sun= 2pm)        

     All dramatic literature is based on depicting  "dynamics of human communication". This means any play that you see will contain some variation of  interpersonal conflict and that conflict may well contain factors that correspond to factors found in the study of cultural & diversity [e.g. differences over elements / differences over what is valued / differences in the communicative influence of  context].

     Both of the productions this semester address the issue of the tolerance/intolerance of  persons  who are perceived to be  different from others, yet they explore the concept in very different ways. For example, the first play represents one of Western cultures' most iconic depictions of cultural intolerance. The second play is a classic 18th century comedy of manners poking fun at societal prejudices about class differences..

         1. Read about Culture and Diversity and Interpersonal Conflict in your text. & also in some "outside" sources. Formulate some of your own preliminary theories about WHY-- throughout history--diversity & difference have often been treated negatively. In other words, before seeing the play, you should already have done some reading/thinking on the topic so that you can watch the performance in a "focused" way-- so that you can watch it more for analysis than pure entertainment.

         2. Attend a Performance. Be a respectful audience member but be sure to take notes on the aspects of culture / diversity / and/or  tolerance (or lack of tolerance). 

         3. Even if you have previously read or seen these plays, be sure to base your comments on THIS production,  THESE actors' performances & THIS director's interpretation. Be aware that I will have seen the productions, so make your references to it clear and specific.

         Discussion/Writeup: This paper is more than a simple summary of the play's plot. Summarize the major diversity-based, conflict-based  &/or tolerance  insights gained from viewing the production. In addition, identify common themes, common stereotypes, and potential sources of (multicultural) intolerance. Also incorporate relevant background material on culture &/or conflict (from textbook, other sources, etc.). Finally, offer some recommendations on ways to improve tolerance of difference among diverse groups & co-cultures.























































Follow the same procedural directions, But allow at least 1 day in between Parts 1 & 2

<<Note: You can only use this DYADIC ENCOUNTER-part 2  as an EXTRA-CREDIT/5th or 6th project>>

>>>The Part 2 STATEMENTS:

28. The things I like most to do with you are...

29. I tend not to tell you about...

30. Something I have always wondered about it...

31. An area in which I would like to feel more equal to you is...

32. I feel rebellious when...

33. [Try to make your partner laugh without using words.]

34. I need you most when...

35. I get discouraged or frustrated when...

36. I think you are unfair when...

[Listening Check: "Are you saying that...?]

37. The things that hold us together are...

38. The habit you have that bothers me most is...

39. When we fight...

40. Right now I am feeling...

41. An important issue between us right now is...

42. One thing I have always wanted to talk more about is...

43. I wish you would let me know when...

44. A pattern I see in our relationship is...

[Listening Check: "Are you saying that...?]

45. The part of myself that I like most is...

46. The part of myself that I like least is...

47. One of the times that bothered me most in our relationship was...

48. What I like most about our relationship is...

49. In the future, I would like our relationship to become more...

50. One of the things I value most in life is...

{You may want to continue this discussion by generating a

list of topics of your own choosing & responding to those that

interest you most, e.g. careers., family, sex, money}

not used:


c/o L. Rosenfeld