Syllabus for COM-330



In Interpersonal Communication we examine the process of interpersonal communication from various perspectives, including dyadic interactions, how we perceive others, listening skills, emotions, language, and nonverbal communications. By applying and mastering the concepts of interpersonal communication, you can improve your listening and interaction with others, handle conflict and human differences more positively and productively, and form more tractable and supportive relationships in a variety of contexts.


  1. Dyadic relationships—defining interpersonal (dyadic) communication and distinguishing it from other forms of communication.
  2. Perception—how perception and especially person perception informs and governs dyadic relationships.
  3. Emotions—roles of emotions, shyness, and assertiveness as key factors in shaping interpersonal communication.
  4. Language—how words and language work to both reflect and change our communication with others.
  5. Nonverbal communication—"the silent language" in interpersonal communication.
  6. Listening—the missing ingredient in many settings and situations that might be improved.
  7. Intimacy—the human desire for intimacy with others and how distance from others can, if we choose, be reduced.
  8. Defensiveness—as the dynamic of unproductive relationships and how it can be reduced and dealt with.
  9. Conflict—as both productive and destructive in relationships; approaches to handling conflict when it occurs.


After completing this course, you should be able to: 

  1. Explain interpersonal communication as it compares to communication in general and in other settings (small group, one to many, etc.).
  2. Describe ways in which interpersonal communication depends in large measure on human perception and particularly person perception.
  3. Explain how human emotions arise, impinge on, and affect interpersonal communication, and specify ways in which they can be managed for greater personal effectiveness in interpersonal communication.
  4. Outline and describe ways in which language can either facilitate or inhibit success in interpersonal communication.
  5. Demonstrate the significance of nonverbal communication, including such usually less-noticed factors as tone of voice, the use of space, etc.
  6. Demonstrate how listening is critical to interpersonal success and how listening skill goes beyond hearing to an active strategy in conversation with others.
  7. Categorize the varieties of human relationships and specify how and why they vary and where the various sorts most often appear.
  8. Contrast different communication climates (e.g., defensive vs. supportive), and specify how those climates arise, are diagnosed, and can be made more positive.
  9. Assess the varieties of conflicts that arise in human intercourse, and discriminate which approach to a conflict may be most successful and appropriate, given its essential cause and nature.


You will need the following textbook to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

  1. Ronald B. Adler and Russell F. Proctor II, Looking Out, Looking In, 13th ed. (Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011).

    ISBN-13: 978-0-495-79621-3


Interpersonal Communication is a three-credit online course, consisting of nine (9) modules. Modules include an overview, list of topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below along with their respective course objectives and topics.

  1. Module 1—Interpersonal Communication: A First Look
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 1
  1. Topics: why people communicate; the basic process and models of communication; principles and misconceptions of communication; definition of interpersonal communication; interpersonal communication competence as a goal.
  1. Module 2—Perception: Perceiving Self and Others
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 2
  1. Topics: major influences on identity including culture and gender; how "the self" and one's identity affects self-presentation; the self-fulfilling prophecy; changing one's self-concept; public and private selves; identity management and honesty; general perception and perceiving people as a special case; tendencies in perception; and common errors, empathy, and cognitive complexity.
  1. Module 3—Emotions: Handling One's Emotions, Shyness as a Barrier, and Assertiveness
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 3
  1. Topics: physiological factors in emotions; nonverbal reactions; cognitive interpretations; influences on emotional expression; guidelines for expressing emotions; managing difficult emotions.
  1. Module 4—Language: The Words We Use in Interpersonal Situations
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 4
  1. Topics: understanding that words are symbolic more than substantive; semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic rules for analyzing language; ways in which language impacts interpersonal communication; gender and culture as influences on language.
  1. Module 5—Nonverbal Communication in Interpersonal Communication: The Silent Language
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 5
  1. Topics: limits on the control and use of nonverbal behavior; all behavior as communicative; relational effects in nonverbal behavior; detecting deception; ambiguity in nonverbal behavior; basic types of nonverbal expressions.
  1. Module 6—Listening:  More Than Meets the Ear
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 6
  1. Topics: hearing vs. listening; mindless and mindful listening; the listening process and its stages; reasons why people don't listen; types of responses in listening and using them appropriately.

  1. Module 7—Relationships and Intimacy
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 7
  1. Topics: why we form interpersonal relationships; how relationships develop and disintegrate; repairing damaged relationships; content and relational messages; meta-communication.
  1. Module 8—Improving Communication Climates: Interpersonal Weather
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 8
  1. Topics: definitions and dimensions of intimacy; masculine and feminine styles of intimacy; intimacy in mediated communication; self-disclosure and risk-taking; alternatives to self-disclosure; causes and remedies of defensiveness.
  1. Module 9—Interpersonal Conflict
  1. Course objective covered in this module: CO 9
  1. Topics: the nature and causes of conflict with others; conflict as natural, normal, and neutral; style of response to conflict; complementary, symmetrical, and parallel patterns in conflict; constructive conflict styles; the win-win approach and its alternatives.

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, to submit  written assignments, to take a proctored online midterm examination, and to complete a final project in the form of a written paper. See below for more details.

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

Interpersonal Communication requires you to participate in nine (9) graded discussion forums worth 18 percent of your course grade. There is also an ungraded but required introduction forum in Module 1.

Communication among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a posted question (discussion thread) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Deadlines for posting discussion threads on the class Discussion Board are given in the course Calendar.

Click the link below for an evaluation rubric that will aid in the grading of online discussion forums.

  1. Evaluation rubric for online discussions

Written Assignments

You are required to complete nine (9) written assignments worth 30 percent of your course grade. Your answers to assignment questions should be well developed and should show evidence of thought, organization, effective writing, and of course responsiveness to the question! Please make sure you edit and proofread your work before submitting it. Gross errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation distract from what you are writing and compromise the credibility of your work.

Click the link below for an evaluation rubric that will aid in the grading of written assignments.

  1. Evaluation rubric for written assignments

Midterm Examination

You are required to take a proctored online midterm examination.

The midterm exam is two hours long and covers all topics and material from modules 1–5 of the course. It consists of five (5) essay questions based on the textbook reading.

For the midterm, you are required to use the College's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.

Online exams are administered through the course Web site. Consult the course Calendar for the official dates of exam weeks.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during an exam. Cheating means:

  1. Looking up any answer or part of an answer in an unauthorized textbook or on the Internet, or using any other source to find an answer.
  2. Copying and pasting or, in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your exams. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  3. Plagiarizing answers.
  4. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take an exam.
  5. Copying any part of an exam to share with other students.
  6. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at an exam because your connection to the Internet was interrupted when that is not true.

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in an exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

Interpersonal Communication is designed to help you develop insights into your own interpersonal behavior and communication and that of others. An essential part of this exercise will be your final project, which is worth 22 percent of your course grade.

Your final project should be in the form of a written paper in which you develop a framework demonstrating your understanding of the major elements affecting interpersonal behavior as examined in the course.

You will complete your work on the final project in two steps: (1) a proposal (worth 2 percent of your

course grade) in which you present the question you are trying to answer, indicate your research methods and approach, and state your informal hypothesis; and (2) a final paper (worth 20 percent of your course grade) in which you present your research findings and conclusions.

Please see the Final Project area of the course Web site for further details about the project and the course Calendar for the due dates of each step.

Click the links below for evaluation rubrics that will aid in the grading of the final project proposal (step 1) and final paper (step 2).

  1. Evaluation rubric for final project proposal
  2. Evaluation rubric for final paper


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (9)—18 percent
  2. Written assignments (9)—30 percent
  3. Midterm Exam (proctored online, modules 1-5)—30 percent
  4. Final project (step 1: proposal)—2 percent
  5. Final project (step 2: paper)—20 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a nonarea of study course), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.
  2. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.
  3. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.
  5. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting activities before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting activities, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.
  2. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized activity, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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