Translate To Preferred Language

Search ObiokusThoughts

Please Read Today's Featured Post

Law of Attraction

When considering the concept of the “law of attraction”, I simply reduce it to the exercise of unity progress.  As you find something that...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Report on Possible Merger of the Communication Departments at Frostburg State University



When we were assigned the possible merger of two departments as the topic of this project, there was a lot of work ahead of us to do. It is said that a good interviewer should be competent on at least sixty percent of what will be discussed (Brady, 1977). To adequately prepare, we determined what sources would be necessary for proper research. Being that the fundamental point of the interviews was to be about the communication departments at Frostburg State University, both Communication Studies and Mass Communication, the decision to start there was an easy one. Frostburg provides access to information of all their available majors online. A listing of active faculty and courses required for each program were found there (2014; 2013). As of now, the two departments have not been combined. There are completely different department chairs as well as degree programs. This fact was reiterated by nearly all of our participants during the interviews conducted. One participant felt that this had already occurred. To paraphrase, he believed each department had merged and were assigned co-chairs already. Later, we will go more in-depth with what was found from our research and the thoughts of others. Not necessarily to compare and contrast but to see how accurate was the information that was actually being exchanged. Though some may not talk about something as specific as the distinction between two majors, conversations about a topic like this can be had every day. What type of conversation it is however? Is it one of civil discourse, an argument of facts or a debate on whose opinion is correct. Can it be beneficial to both the interviewer and interviewee or is it a one way presentation where you just want to find what one knows and how much the other wants to know? The determination of the previous statement was a subtext of this project that may have become more important the more we worked on it. Let’s begin to discuss what was discovered.
From our research, this was going to be an interesting thing to discuss. A proposed merger of two departments would affect current and future students of both disciplines. This would not be new though. The earliest Frostburg State University undergrad catalog available is for students who attended during the years of 1999 to 2001 (1999). At that time, the departments were combined under the title of Communication & Theatre Arts. As the name suggested, students participated in a program where theatre, acting, and costume design were part of a curriculum that included speech communication, production, multimedia workshop and interviewing as one major. The major had a very diverse and lengthy course offering. The specific courses to complete a major were not found in our search. Several other universities have a similar program today. Eastern Michigan University has a comprehensive Communications, Media and Theatre Arts major (emich.edu/cmta/communication, 2014). This program has students complete communication courses like public speaking and group communication. Students also take acting and script analysis courses in additional to intro to media and production. Frostburg ended this practice as of 2001. Some members of the staff for Communication studies from that time have earned emeritus status as professors (Frostburg State University Undergraduate catalog, 2001; 2013). Some members of the Mass Communications department are still active today. For the purpose of this assignment, we were asked not to speak with active faculty or current students of those departments directly. At this point, we began to ask questions of voluntary participants to see how they feel about this issue.
Due to some last minute rescheduling, we were able to get six interviewees. All of our interviews began with participants in good moods. Each began with asking the participant how they were and to introduce themselves. This enables the interviewer to be interpreted as cordial and friendly (Post, 2011). These first two questions are for the interviewee to respond freely and with absolutely no pressure. That was done purposely to create a relaxed setting for the rest of the interview as the participant can establish pace and rapport from the start. Our schedule was designed to take the interviewee through a specific sequence that would transition seamlessly between larger concepts that we wanted to know about. We tried to take the position of having a discussion rather than performing an interrogation.
Our next group of questions was to discover how each participant sees the programs individually. Two of our student participants have taken courses in both majors. The other two were split. The two faculty members have some experience of their own. One has familiarity of being a student of Communication Studies and the other collaborating with Communication Studies for a variety of events. The amount of knowledge varied but no one was completely naive to what the disciplines were. As the wording infers, all of our participants felt that Communication Studies concentrated on direct exchange of information. Some used the term “face to face” and others used terms like public speech. The consensus opinion is that it is wide ranging about what it can cover. We tried to coin the phrase of “interpersonal communication” for what Communication Studies focuses on as a major program. Contrarily, Mass Communication was going to be defined as communication through a technical media source. Many of our participants agreed. Four of them included the term “broader” form of communication when saying that it addresses such things as radio, television and social media. With everyone feeling they have the theme of communication in common and further explaining the prior definition as the difference. One interviewee said that Mass Communication has a narrower focus as it prepared its students for connecting to a larger audience with technology. Another felt as if Communication Studies could be seen as deeper and intimate. Someone even offered a wise summation that should be used going forward as both communicate and the method of delivery is what defines them. After receiving how they viewed the programs, we wanted to discuss the particulars.
Trying to get an impression of the faculty and courses was the concept of the following section. All of our interviewees have met members of each department and felt what they heard about those individuals was fair except one. The remaining participant did not hear about their professor before or after taking the course. This question existed to know if evaluations or character assessments were accurate for these people. Students would take certain courses because they were told a teacher was good or nice. A preconceived bias can enable the direction of someone’s future choices. What would have happened if they disagreed after their personal experience? Does one question the source of information or the timing of the encounter? We cannot elaborate at this time due to short supply of contextual data. More questions to consider of a possible merger would be if there are any courses that should be recommended to a student of the other major and whether redundancy is present currently. The response was that the majority thinks that Communication Studies’ courses would benefit people of all educational backgrounds while Mass Communication does not translate as well. Both majors do have their own requirements. Communication Studies does have its students take introduction to Mass Communication while having specific tracks for the three categories of communication; conflict, leadership and public or rhetorical (Communication Studies, 2013). Mass Communications only asks the students of media management to have Communication Studies courses. The upper-level classes of interviewing, organizational communication and conflict communication are required for a degree (Mass Communication, 2013). Once undergrad students become graduates, we turned the questions towards a professional focus.
The first questions were about the professional careers that the graduate would be applying for. Coinciding with what was thought of the majors, the interviewees believed there are several opportunities for Communication Studies. Their responses were occupations of public speaking, speech writers, speech coaches, teachers, and therapists so on and so forth. The feeling is that Communication Studies can contribute to several areas of the workforce which is true. Mass Communication, even being more precise, has numerous chances for employment for its graduates. Participants felt that careers trended towards entertainment for the media of their choice. Candidates are readily prepared for jobs in television, radio, film and advertising as soon as they leave school from their point of view. These jobs all have a positive connotation is what the interviewees concluded. People would be helped as Communication Studies plays the role of increasing the skills for conveying thoughts effectively for any and all parties involved. Those roles allow people to speak articulately and intelligently in a variety of fields where that talent is essential. Mass Communications is thought to keep the public informed from their favorite news sources. To go along with the trending theme, Communication Studies appears to have elements that are vital to anyone in the other group. As the core of it is to be proficient in expressing ideas, anybody who speaks to a larger crowd or audience may need to be able to do that. The thoughts on detraction were mixed. Five to one sensed that there is no negative effect to combining these skills. The one participant, however, felt there could be some loss or confusion with intermingling personally talking through any resource other than face to face. As we scarcely introduced the idea of joining, the interviews ended with the topic of the merger.
Two out of six interviewees had heard that there was potential for a merger between the two departments. We heard about this in our class when the project was being bandied about. One of the participants which were not aware of the news beforehand felt it would be a good idea. Four of our contributors said the department should be called Communications or Communication Studies after unification. The two unique responses were “Communication Studies and Leadership” and “Mass and Personal Communication Science”. All of those would be good to use for the hypothetical department. When asked how it would affect the campus, we got an assortment of answers again. Some said it would be positive and good for the school. Some thought that it would be a minor change and only students of those majors would truly be affected. The faculty member who suspected it had already happened said people are just “not aware of it yet”. Not one of our interviewees knew about the example previously mentioned where theatre arts was also included.
The interviewees were happy and ample with providing what they knew. The project was informative and enjoyable for both sides. Though all of the information given was not factually true, there was not a mischievous or cruel motive of the participant. There was not a reason to hide information or conceal what they thought. It was slight mistakes in their perception of what was real and supported by our research. The interviewer could also add correction and help when needed. There was no intention to leave them in the dark either. From this sample we conclude that if it were to take place, people would be positive if not neutral about the decision and the process used to determine it. The only question left would be what’s the best way to announce it?
Annotated Bibliography
Communication Studies Faculty - Frostburg State University (2014). Retrieved from September 19, 2014 from http://www.frostburg.edu/dept/cmst/communication-studies-faculty/
The webpage shows the entire faculty listing for the Communication Studies department.  Resource will use to determine whom to speak with from a teaching perspective for this topic.
Faculty & Staff – Frostburg State University (2014). Retrieved from September 19, 2014 from http://www.frostburg.edu/dept/mcom/faculty-staff/
The webpage shows the entire faculty listing for the Mass Communication department.  Resource will use to determine whom to speak with from a teaching perspective for this topic.
Frostburg State University’s Undergraduate Catalog (2013). Communication Studies. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from p. 12 of http://www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/ungrad/catalog/clasp1.pdf
Frostburg State University has a summary of requirements for the Communication Studies program listed online.  It specifically tells what courses are needed to complete the program as either a major or minor and implies an order of succession in which they can be taken.  The page also contains the personnel whom are involved with these courses.  For completion, readers are informed of the option of a collection of 4 courses or a study track of a specialize selection within its program.  This will be used to know the core requirements of this program from the department.
Frostburg State University’s Undergraduate Catalog (2013).  Course Descriptions.  Retrieved from September 19, 2014 from p. 177-178 and p. 206-208 of http://www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/ungrad/catalog/course.pdf
Frostburg State University provides a description of each course offered and its assigned number of credit hours for readers online.  The information is listed primarily in alphabetical order by major and secondarily by course number.  Course numbers increase in level for relative expertise and requirements of taking lower level courses.  This is an excellent resource for anyone who attends or plans to attend this University.  Will be used determine the difference in what is included for the Communication Studies and Mass Communication majors prior to the anticipated merger.
Frostburg State University’s Undergraduate Catalog (2013). Mass Communication. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from p. 21 of http://www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/ungrad/catalog/clasp2.pdf  
Frostburg State University has a summary of the requirements for the Mass Communications program listed online.  It specifically tells what courses are needed to complete the program as either a major or minor and implies an order of succession in which they can be taken.  The page also contains the personnel whom are involved with these courses.  For completion, readers are informed of the options for a professional focus within its program.  This will be used to know the core requirements of this program from the department.
Frostburg State University’s Undergraduate Catalog (2001). Retrieved September 19, 2014 from p. 70 and p. 117 of http://www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/ungrad/catalog/archive/2001-2003.pdf
Frostburg State University provides archived version of their course catalog online for former students and/or historical reference for the user.  The resource shows the faculty that was present over a decade ago and what were the core requirements at that time.  This will be used to determine how the course suggestion was modified and who remains as an employee from then.
Frostburg State University’s Undergraduate Catalog (1999). Retrieved September 19, 2014 from p. 55-58 of http://www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/ungrad/catalog/archive/1999-2001.pdf
Frostburg State University provides archived version of their course catalog online for former students and/or historical reference for the user.  The resource shows that there was a time when the majors were not separated.  The program was then titled as Communication and Theatre Arts.  Course listing shows that elements of both majors were offered under the unified classification.  Will be used to research what were the benefits of this initial decision and why was there a move to divide the disciplines then.
Post, P., Post, A., Post, L., and Senning, D.P. (2011). Emily Post's Etiquette: Manners for a New World. Eighteenth Edition. New York, NY: William Morrow.
Miss Post has written a very elegant and sometimes funny book on how to conduct oneself in a variety of situations.  Some of the reading can be common sense while other parts are very enlightening and insightful.  Resource will be used for suggestions on how to approach and interact with the various participants that will be involved in each level of the project.
Seidman, I. (2013) Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences. Fourth Edition. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Mr. Seidman has written a witty and educational book on the dedicated science that is collecting data and speaking with individuals.  He not only speaks from experience but also with the apparent disclosure that there is more to this than it seems.  Resource will be used to bring a professional aspect to interviewing and discussing this topic at hand accurately.  
Underhill, P. (2000). Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Mr. Underhill has written a book that goes into to detail about the discreet observance of people from a business perspective.  There are many examples of expectation versus realization and human behavior, which can be applied to a subject outside of its intended audience.  The book can help to understand the types of answers we receive during this project.