Graduate Programs

Graduate Courses, Fall 2020

COMM 501
Proseminar in Mass Communications

Thursdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Michael Schmierbach

The course will review and discuss the major concepts, issues and approaches involved with studying media from a social science perspective.

COMM 502
Pedagogy in Communications

Thursdays, 6-9 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Kevin Hagopian

This course focuses on the unique characteristics of undergraduate education in the communications discipline. The principles and practices covered in the seminar have applications for teaching communications in a number of venues including the academic, business and government professional settings. The course involves students in collaborative learning, assessment skills, powerful pedagogies, practical workshops and substantive reviews and applications of curricular and pedagogical research in the communications discipline.

COMM 506
Research Methods in Communications

Mondays, 2:30-5:30 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
S. Shyam Sundar

This is a gateway course on social science research, providing students a rigorous introduction to basic methodological concepts needed for conducting empirical research. Students will learn how to explicate concepts, ask research questions and test hypotheses using experiments, surveys and content analyses. They will be introduced to descriptive and inferential statistics. They will critically analyze published research, by identifying threats to validity of inferences. They will conduct a research project from start to finish, and produce original, publishable research.

COMM 515
MA Proseminar in Mass Communications

Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Patrick Lee Plaisance

An introduction to graduate studies for MA students in Media Studies. The class will explore a range of major approaches and perspectives in the study of media and communications. The class will also examine the scholarly profession of media and communication studies, and Penn State media studies traditions and current scholars.

COMM 518
Media Effects

Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Homero Gil de Zúñiga

This course focuses on key theories in the social-scientific study of the individual/social effects of media use. The class explores how media shape our attitudes and behaviors in different contexts, including enjoyment, consumer behavior, politics, stereotyping, aggression, learning, and ongoing attitudes toward media. Course readings include scholarship on traditional media and digital media as well as other media innovation realms (e.g., gaming, augmented reality, algorithmic based and artificial intelligence, etc.). Students should have a basic familiarity with quantitative research, but the class is ideal for anyone interested in the media, regardless of whether they have prior experience with scholarship in the area. Students are welcome even if they are taking COMM 506 concurrently or have completed equivalent coursework in another department.

COMM 522
Social and Cultural Aspects of Advertising

Fridays, 11:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Matthew P. McAllister

This course will survey major critical approaches, scholarship and concepts of advertising as an economic and cultural institution. Topics to be examined include the development of advertising and consumer culture, the political economy of advertising, representation in ads, the commercialization of children’s culture, politics and sports, globalization, media crosspromotion,
and advertising in the digital era.

COMM 590

Tuesdays, 4:35-5:50 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Anthony Olorunnisola

A one-credit course that consists of a series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers that discuss different areas of communications, graduate study, and resources at Penn State. The course is designed for COMM graduate students in their first semester.

COMM 597
Data Models in Communications

Tuesdays, 3:05-6:05 p.m., 6 Sparks Building
Mary Beth Oliver

Structural equation modeling (SEM) and related procedures have become very popular techniques in most social scientific disciplines, as they allow for more rigorous and theoretically enriching examinations of our data. The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to and foundation for SEM contextualized in terms of applied research. It will emphasize a conceptual understanding (rather than a mathematically derived focus) of the processes involved and decisions required in conducting these types of analyses. It will illustrate how researchers often report their results in scholarly publications, and provide students with numerous opportunities to practice their skills, both during the course and on their own. Topics include introductions to path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling.

COMM 597
Social Media Research

Thursdays, 2:30-5:30 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building
Bu Zhong

This graduate course introduces you to selected theories and methods used in the latest social media research. It will guide you in applying the theories and methods to exploring the socialmedia impact on human interaction in social, political, and economic settings. Social media users’ ICT use, mental health, well-being, and civic participation in online communities will be investigated thoroughly. The goal is to familiarize you with the latest social media research methods and trends, and identify areas that call for further empirical research. Part of the course is devoted to brainstorming innovative uses of research methods and theories in addressing the social consequences due to the pervasive use of social media and other ICTs like algorithm experiences or mobile technology.