Communications BA Public Relations
The Department of Communications exists to help students become professional and scholarly communicators whose messages contribute to a better society by benefiting the organizations for which they work and the audiences they reach.
Students majoring in Communications complete 40 hours in the department with an emphasis in a particular area of study. Our accrediting body requires students complete 80 hours outside of the department, with at least 65 hours in the liberal arts and sciences. Students take complementary courses in theory and application. Students complete three courses before applying to the Communications program: Comms 101, Comms 211, and the introduction course of their intended emphasis. Once admitted to the program, all students take two additional core courses: Comms 300 and Comms 319/308. Students then must complete the required courses in their emphasis and three electives that focus more on the broader theories and concepts of mass media and society. All students, except those in Communications Studies, are required to complete an internship. Students may take supplemental courses provided they have met all of the other requirements.
- Complete the following: Comms 101, 211, 235.
- Apply to the major.
- Complete the following: Comms 300, 319
- After consulting with a faculty advisor, complete an internship in conjunction with 4 hours of the following:Comms 399R.
- Complete 9 hours from the following departmental electives: Comms 301, 351, 352, 360, 381, 382, 401, 402, 406, 411, 412, 449, 480.
- Complete the following: Comms 321, 336, 421, 485.
- Complete the following: Acc 200. Bus M 340.
Students will communicate effectively with their audiences
Specifically, students will do so by planning and preparing mass communication messages in the appropriate style, using the appropriate research methods and appropriate technologies to best serve audience needs.
Students will act professionally in their practice
Specifically, students will be able to practice communication within legal boundaries, while exhibiting standards of professional behavior and demonstrating sensitivity to ethical behavior. Students will also be literate in the language of the media industries.
Students will be scholars of the mass communication process
Specifically, students will be able to apply relevant theory to communication practice, understand factors that shape their profession, value freedom of speech in the marketplace of ideas, and think critically about the relationship between mass media and society.
Students will apply Gospel-centered values as they contribute to society
Specifically, students will respect diversity and agency in a global society, be able to exercise moral reasoning when faced with ethical dilemmas, and show a commitment to making a difference within their sphere of influence.
Evidence of Learning
- One-on-one faculty mentoring, advisement, and interviews.
- One-on-one faculty and staff mentoring in media production labs.
- Instructor assessment at the course level include: written quizzes, written exams, production evaluations, research papers, skill proficiency exams, portfolio examinations, homework that strengthens student skill development, student self-assessment, peer reviewed media production, and production post mortem evaluations.
- External assessment of student skills through participation in various regional and national competitions.
- Program applications after students have completed their pre-major course work.
- Alumni surveys and placement data.
- Formal evaluations from internship providers on preparation and abilities of students.
- Benchmarks and follow-up assessments (to be implemented).
- Electronic portfolios of embedded assignments for external review and self-assessment (to be implemented).
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
In Winter 2013, the department conducted an assessment retreat to examine the effectiveness of the core writing class, Comms 211. Faculty examined syllabi and learning material to identify strengths and weaknesses of the learning experience (detailed below).
Various activites have taken place to improve teaching and learning and to close the assessment loop on previous assessments:
- Curriculum Revision: Previous assessment suggested an unevenness in students meeting all program learninig outcomes. The University approved the Department's proposal to revamp our core curriculum by moving program-level learning outcomes from electives to core classes. In addition to improving the likelihood that program-level outcomes are met, it is expected this change will result in greater flexibility with elective courses while also removing bottlenecks that impede student's progress to graduation.
- Improving time to graduation: Previous assessment confirmed impressions that students were unsatisfied with the so-called "dead semester," an aspect to the admission to the major process that resulted in students losing a semester while they waited for an admission decision and permission to register for major courses. As a result, the faculty designed a mechanism whereby during the "dead semester" pre-major students could take two courses previously restrictered to majors only. Students admitted to the major would no longer "lose" a semester, as they would use the "dead" semester to take major courses. Meanwhile, students not admitted would, if they completed pre-major and "dead semester" courses, have enough credits to take a minor in Communications. The University approved this proposal in November 2012.
- Visual Literacy: Previous assessment suggested students lacked fluency in visual literacy. In November 2012, the University approved a Department proposal to add a visual literacy course to the curriculum. The new course, Comms 303, will be taught for the first time during AY 2013-2014.
- Improving student learning environments: As a result of changing enrollments within Communications, lab space was reallocated to give additional space to the strategic labs. The Bradley Agency public relations lab was removed from the space it had shared with the AdLab and given its own space. Both labs will be undergoing an extensive renovation to provide students with collaborative, creative space. In addition, under-used open access computer labs were converted into a modern classroom designed to promote team building and collaboration.
- Computer useage: Based on a study of desktop computer useage in labs and classrooms, the Department received approval from the University to require that students (beginning with those admitted in Fall 2013) obtain their own notebook or laptop computer. This new policy allows the department to gradually shift computers from those classrooms where they have been underutilzed to labs where they are more needed.
- Academic services: Student mentoring services have been moved into a redesigned career and internship placement office. In addition, students now have access to academic advisement in the Brimhall Building (formerly housed exclusively in the Harris Fine Arts Center); and beginning in Fall 2013, students and faculty will have access in the Brimhall Building to our assigned librarian.