Syllabus for COM-335



Elements of Intercultural Communication presents a theoretical and practical approach to the study of intercultural communication. The course focuses on the many elements and processes involved in the sending and receiving of messages across cultures. The aim of the course is to increase your sensitivity to and understanding of intercultural differences and similarities so that this awareness can lead to more effective communication. The course covers basic concepts, principles, and practical skills for improving communication between persons from different ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the communication process and relate it to communicating with cultures different from your own.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how cultural differences in world view, family experience, and history shape perceptions, behaviors, and communication patterns.
  3. Analyze and articulate the variables in the intercultural communication situation (attitudes, social organization, patterns of thought, roles, language, space, time, nonverbal communication, ethnocentrism, world view).
  4. Describe specific verbal and nonverbal communication patterns that are reflected during human interaction.

Explain the influence of culture on communication in at least three settings where intercultural exchanges are most likely to occur: the workplace, school, and health care environments.

  1. Identify and implement ways to improve the intercultural communications in various professional, academic and social settings.


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

Required Textbook

  1. Communication between Cultures, 7th ed., by Larry A. Samovar, Richard E. Porter and Edward R. McDaniel (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2009). [Referred to as the "textbook"]

ISBN-13: 978-0495567448

  1. Intercultural Communication: A Reader, 13th ed., by Larry A. Samovar, Richard E. Porter and Edward R. McDaniel (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2012). [Referred to as the "reader"]

    ISBN-13: 978-0495554189

Suggested (optional) Material

To learn more about specific topics, check the references in the “Notes” section starting on page 412 of your textbook.

A helpful (and often entertaining) paperback book that is a widely known bestseller on inter-cultural communications may interest you if you are actually interacting personally or professionally with individuals from other cultures. The book is Do’s and Taboos Around The World, by Roger E. Axtell, a former executive with Parker Pen. The most recent version—the third edition—is published by The Benjamin Company, a John Wiley & Sons division, and is available from libraries, book stores, and Internet book sites for under $15. Among other features, the book contains a country-by-country bullet-pointed discussion of tips on greetings, gift giving, topics of conversation, and general protocol—all of which are very useful to anyone interacting regularly with colleagues, acquaintances, or relatives from other cultures!

Movies dealing with cross-cultural issues are easy to come by, are an enjoyable way to observe what may happen when cultures collide. Some noteworthy movies that illustrate aspects of inter-cultural communications—often humorously or very dramatically—are: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend it Like Beckham, Gung Ho, Tootsie (for male-female communication insight), The Birdcage (for insight into the culture and communication of gay individuals), Black Rain, King Ralph, Moscow on the Hudson and Lost in Translation. Check out some of these titles in movie guides or on Internet sites to see if you think you’d enjoy any of them for what they say about the cultural issues on which they focus.


Elements of Intercultural Communication is a three-credit online course, consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1: Communication and Culture
  2. Module 2: The Influence of Culture
  3. Module 3: Language and Culture

  1. Module 4: Nonverbal Communication
  2. Module 5: Cultural Contexts
  3. Module 6: Knowledge Into Action

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.


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

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to posting an introduction to the class in Module 1, you are required to participate in five (5) graded online discussions.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two 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.

Written Assignments

The six (6) written assignments that you submit to the mentor for evaluation and grading consist of essay questions on material from the textbook and reader and encompass personal experiences, theories, and synthesis.

Communication does not take place in a vacuum, and applying real-life experiences and anecdotes you have had to your discussions and activities enhances your appreciation and understanding of the subject you’re studying. (You’ll also find that the experiences and anecdotes that other class members will share with you in the online discussion forums will help you gain additional insight into the subject.)

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the written assignment questions in each module, and read through the assignment questions before you begin each reading assignment.

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.

Preparing and Submitting Assignments

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your activity as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

Below is the rubric that will aid in the grading of written activities.

  1. Evaluation Rubric

Midterm Examination

This course requires you to take a closed-book, proctored midterm examination. It is two hours long and covers material in Modules 1, 2, and 3. It consists of short essay questions on the basic concepts from the textbook and reader. If you have concerns about the format and/or content of the examination, please contact your mentor at least a week in advance of the scheduled test.

You may take the examination only during the designated exam week, at an approved location, and with an approved proctor. In this regard, you need to schedule your exam and submit your "Proctor Request Form" with the necessary documentation no later than the end of the first week of the semester (see Administrative Forms in the General Information area of the course Web site).

If you are on a course extension and have not yet taken the midterm exam, you must let your examination proctor know when you plan to take the exam and contact the Office of Test Administration (609-984-1181) two weeks in advance to request that your exam be sent to the proctor.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the 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 the answer.

  1. Copying and pasting or in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your online test. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  1. Plagiarizing answers.
  2. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take the exam.
  3. Copying any part of the exam to share with other students.
  4. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at the 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 your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

The final project is in the form of a written paper that is worth 20% of your course grade. You will be required in your paper to develop a framework for analyzing and understanding a specific culture or co-culture by examining these characteristics:

  1. Language
  2. Folktales
  3. Values
  4. Nonverbal communications styles
  5. Government
  6. Education
  7. Healthcare
  8. Business


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online class discussions (5)—15 percent
  2. Written assignments (6)—35 percent
  3. Midterm Examination (proctored – modules 1-3)—30 percent
  4. Final project—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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