COMM 101 - Fundamentals of Communication

Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016


last updated: 8/15/2016

Course Description:  A practice-oriented introduction to forms and principles of communication including communication theory, verbal, nonverbal codes, and public communication. 

  Required Texts:

  • Valenzano, J.M. & Braden, S.W. (2012).  The speaker: the tradition and practice of public speaking (3rd ed.).   Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press.
  • Electronic "Handouts" found on (this) McGaan COMM 101 Website

 Course Goals:  The goals of this course include the following:  By the end of this course students should be able to ...

  1. Articulate understanding of the role communication plays in democracies and in the lives of engaged citizens
  2. Practice good classroom citizenship by employing civil discourse, collaborating, respecting others, participating in deliberations, and honoring diverse viewpoints
  3. Deliver strong, ethical arguments based on authoritative evidence
  4. Express knowledge about local, regional, national or global issues as well as their own informed positions on those issues in presentations and discussions
  5. Adapt content and delivery of messages to people, including those unlike yourselves, who comprise the public within the classroom space
  6. Acquire and evaluate information from mediated and non-mediated sources
  7. Employ good speech construction practices as revealed by topic selection, development of thesis, outlining and drafting, source citation, use of visual aids, getting feedback, rehearsing, etc.
  8. Critically receive information presented through various channels
  9. Consider how the knowledge and skills gained in the course will transfer to other contexts and other courses particularly the Global Perspectives, Reflections, and Citizenship courses, ENG110, and courses demanding presentations and small group collaboration

 Course Policies: 

  1. You should come prepared to be engaged in the class.

  • Complete the assigned reading and other assignments BEFORE class. 

  • Check your MC Email at least once or twice each day.  Often specific instructions or materials about preparing for the next class meeting in this course will be sent to you by your instructor -- along with reminders and other supplementary material. You should expect to be prepared with tasks sent to you as late as the afternoon before class meetings.

  • Come with your text book, materials for taking notes (e.g. pen, paper, etc.), and other needed materials for each class.  It is often helpful to print out web page materials for the day and bring those to class as well.

  • Be willing to participate.  Ask questions if you don't understand or if you see things differently from the instructor or other students.  But be polite.

  • Interact productively and civilly in class discussions and group activities.  Civility does not eliminate healthy debate and/or appropriate humor nor is it meant to stifle or restrict expression of opposing viewpoints.  However, there are certain basic standards of classroom civility that are particularly conducive to the creation of a safe and productive classroom climate.  These include:

  1. Displaying respect for both your professor and fellow students;

  2. Attentiveness to and participation in class discussion, group activities, etc.

  3. Avoiding unnecessary disruptions during class such as private conversations, reading the newspaper, use of electronic devices, and doing work for other classes:

  4. Avoid ethnically insensitive, sexist, homophobic, or other exclusionary language that alienates members of our campus and classroom communities.  "Put downs," explicit or implicit, that demean individuals or suggest disrespect for the educational process are not acceptable.

  1. Students are responsible for all assigned reading material whether or not it is discussed in class and all lecture material whether or not duplicated by readings.

  2. Class attendance is expected. 

  • On days when in-class activities are scheduled (e.g. speeches, group discussions) attendance is required of all students - no unexcused absences are permitted. 

  • Grade deductions may be made for multiple unexcused absences.

  • For an absence to be excused, you must contact the instructor (in advance whenever possible) and present acceptable documentation if requested.

  • If you get to class after it has begun and someone is giving a speech, wait in the hall until s/he is done.  You may enter the classroom in between speeches.

  • In general, if you arrive late for my class (or any class at Monmouth College) apologies are appropriate (at the end of class).

  • NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES are to be used during class time except with permission for class related purposes.  Please leave iPods, tablets, cell phones, etc. in your room or your book bag.

  1. During speech rounds our schedule is VERY tight; therefore, you must be prompt and prepared on those days.  Even excused absences may not result in "make‑up speeches" on those days. If you are late, NEVER walk into the room when another student is speaking.  Wait outside and enter unobtrusively after the speech has ended.

  2. Except for medical or other emergency reasons, assignments will not necessarily be accepted late unless advance arrangements are made.  Significant penalties may be imposed for missed assignments.

In general, I prefer to be flexible as long as we can work toward accomplishing the goals of the course.  Most concerns and problems can be worked out if you meet with me, in advance if at all possible. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.  In general, the best way to get in touch with me is via e-mail. If office hours are not convenient for you, I will be more than happy to schedule a time to meet with you.

Enrollment in this course constitutes agreement by the student that the instructor may keep on file a copy of any assignments submitted or require submission of materials to This syllabus is contractual in nature.  By registering for and remaining in this course, you agree to abide by the guidelines established herein.

In order for an academic community to thrive, members of that community must be able to trust the honesty and sincerity of communication between members.  The very integrity of a college is grounded in academic honesty.  ACADEMIC DISHONESTY CAN RESULT IN FAILING THIS COURSE and will be reported to the Academic Dean.   

One form of academic dishonesty that can undermine this integrity is plagiarism, intentionally or unintentionally copying the words or ideas from another source without giving that source credit.  Because of the serious harm plagiarism causes an academic environment, I have zero tolerance for it: students who plagiarize will normally automatically fail the class. Do not hesitate to consult with me if you have questions about academic honesty.  (For more information. see "Academic Dishonesty," in the college's catalog.)  As part of the requirements for speeches, students are required to submit each speech outline to ""  Failure to submit any outline in the allotted time will result in an F grade for the assignment.  Failure to submit an outline twice will result in failing the course.

Speech Rehearsals:  On the afternoon or evening before you are scheduled to present a speech in class you will have an appointment with a Speech Assistant for a "rehearsal/tutorial" session.  At this 15 minute session you will receive advice from a top, experienced student who has "been through it before."  These rehearsals are required and grades will be lowered for those who miss rehearsal without an excuse. 

   Graded Assignments

  Introduction and Community Speeches, 5+%   Mid-term Exam 10%
  2 Informative Speeches (Major)   [10 % each] 20%   Persuasive Speech (Major) 15%
  Audience Analysis paper 5%   3 Outlines   [ 3+% each] 10%
  Attendance and Participation  5%   Library, Biblio. & Self-Evaluation Assignments [ 3+% each]  10%
  Final Exam 15%    

You must complete all three major speeches and the final exam in order to pass the class.

Course Workload: All assignments will be given a letter grade and averaged according to the percentages above (e.g. A = 4.0, A - = 3.7 x Y%, etc.) in order to compute the final grade for the course. The instructor reserves the right to significantly lower course grades for failure to complete all assignments or for students who fail to adapt to college course participation expectations.

This course is a four credit course which normally meets 3 days per week. The course design provides learning opportunities and activities totaling approximately 11.5 hours per week over the 15 weeks of the course (including finals week). The assigned activities may take each student a different amount of time to finish, however the average for the class will be about 11.5 hours.

  Further estimates include:

Course activity


In class activity  (((3 days x 50 minutes x 15 weeks) / 60) + 3 hour final) / 15 weeks)

3.0 hours

Reading and homework assignments

3.5 hours

Writing/Speaking assignments - Intro Speech [2 .5 hrs.], Two Informative speeches [ 24 hrs. ],  Persuasion Speech [ 16 hrs. ], Three Speech Outlines [ 7.5 hrs ], Audience Analysis and speech-evaluation papers [  6hrs ], Library Research assignment [ 4 hrs. ],   = 60 hrs / 15)

4.0 hours

Additional preparation for exams (15.0 hours / 15 weeks )

1.0 hours

Average hours per week

11.5 hrs