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Communication Studies 312: Persuasion

Instructor: Jessica Fifield

Email: fifield@unc.edu
Cell: (916) 548-3361
Office Hours: by appointment
Class Meets: TR Saunders 220


Welcome to Communication Studies 312, better known as Persuasion. Many social theorists
have argued that persuasion/social influence is an omnipresent feature of our everyday
communicative behaviors. This course surveys classical and contemporary approaches to
persuasion that have their roots in many different disciplines including Communication Studies,
Psychology, Sociology, Advertising/Marketing, and Political Science. Students in this course use
these approaches to analyze and engage persuasion as a process and outcome in various contexts.

This introductory, survey course will provide a broad overview of the most prominent theories
with a special emphasis on how to put theory into practice. Although this course does have
public speaking elements, it is not a public speaking course. Those looking for such a course
should consider Communication Studies 113. Please note: majors are required to have
completed Communication Studies 120 prior to taking this course. Non-majors should have
confirmed that they have equivalent experience in their home department.

Please read this syllabus and the accompanying course calendar with care. If you have
questions/concerns please raise them during the first 2 weeks of class. It is important to note that
the calendar is a working calendar. It is there to give you an idea of what to expect as we
progress but it is by no means a finalized document. I will do my best to keep the major due
dates the same (exams, process books, grant drafts). However, it is likely that we will adjust
lectures/ challenges as needed. Also, note that the date of the fundraiser is not yet determined--
several possible dates are marked. We will finalize a date prior to the midterm.

This course provides a broad introduction of literature and theories that will help you to become
more sophisticated and critical consumers of persuasive messages across contexts. By
understanding, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating the perspectives introduced in
course readings and lectures you will also further your abilities to produce effective and ethical
persuasive appeals.

Students who complete this course will:

*Acquire a working knowledge of historical and contemporary theory and practice pertaining to
*Reflect on prominent theories of ethics in order to develop standards for ethics in
* Be exposed to varied persuasive texts, contexts, and frameworks for analysis
*Become more sophisticated and critical consumers and producers of persuasive messages
*Gain experience in applied communication research including articulating a problem or need,
identifying theoretical and practical approaches to the problem, adaptation of approaches and
composition of a viable response(s), construction and implementation of a plan of action, critical
assessment of the process/outcome(s), and dissemination of research findings with stakeholders.

We will pursue our studies of persuasion through service-learning: a dynamic and collaborative
process that partners university students with local non-profit organizations for the mutual
benefit of both. During the first few weeks of the course, students will select, from a list
provided by the instructor, an organizational partner to collaborate with during the semester. We
will devote a class session to discussing the various options and helping each student find a
partner that is a right fit for them. Students will then complete a contract, with that partner,
which lays out how students will spend their time and how those planned activities will connect
to course objectives. Students will spend a minimum of 30 hours out of class performing
activities that support the objectives of the non-profit and the learning objectives of the course.
Although each service placement is somewhat different, each student will complete the same set
of “deliverables” as part of their coursework: a process book, a grant, and a fundraiser/benefit.
I hope each of you will find that the classroom-community connections we make will help you
bring academic theories and perspectives to "real-world" contexts in ways that have tangible and
meaningful impacts.

By now you have gathered that this course requires a greater amount of time and effort than
many other courses. There is also an added ethical commitment. You must be willing to act as a
member of a collaborative; your instructor, peers, and community partners will count on you to
be prepared, enthusiastic, and trustworthy. I expect each of you will thoughtfully consider the
readings, contribute questions and ideas to discussions, be willing to take risks in the work you
do, and engage the resources available to you (including peers, service partners, and instructor).
Moreover, I expect that you will honor the commitments you make to me, to one-another, and to
our partners. If you aren’t up for this level of commitment that’s okay—it just means that this
course isn’t a right fit for you at this time.

Required Materials
I have selected Charles Larson’s Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility (11th edition) as our
primary text for the session. I will provide additional images, clips, webinar links, handouts, and
application exercises via the Blackboard site and during our class sessions to reinforce the
readings and give you an opportunity to put the concepts to work. We will not have any required
journal articles this session; for those of you who would like to read in depth, original research,
please ask me about optional readings. You should check Blackboard daily for announcements
and supplementary materials. You will also need to access Blackboard for weekly reading

Major Assignments and Evaluation

In this section of the syllabus you will find an overview of the major assignments you will be
evaluated on. Please note that supplemental assignment information, including grading
rubrics for individual assignments, is not contained in this syllabus. These will be posted on
Blackboard. If you have questions/concerns at any time about how you are being evaluated
you should consult with me (the instructor). It is vital that you raise these questions/concerns
before you have invested substantial time in a project and received a grade. While I will do
my best to respond to your concerns after-the-fact I think you will find that I am much more
equipped to support you when these sort of concerns are raised early.

Challenges 100 points

Quizzes 100 points
Service-Learning Deliverables 300 points
*Process Book I 50 points
*Process Book II 50 points
*Grant Writing Project 100 points
*Fundraising Project 50 points
*Service-Partner Evaluation of Student 50 points
Mid-term Examination 300 points
Final Examination 200 points

Challenges: 100 points total

Students will perform a series of 10 challenges as outlined on the course calendar. Each
challenge is worth 10 points. For each challenge students will be given a prompt in class and
asked to complete a task. The prompt will inform the students of the task goal, rules, and
timeline. Most tasks will be completed in class. However, there are a few where students will
work out of class. Each task is an opportunity to practice the stages of applied research and
develop a working knowledge of the theories/constructs we read about. All tasks contribute
directly or indirectly to the service-learning projects.

Non-competitive challenges are graded pass/fail. Students who pass receive the full 10 points.
Students who fail a challenge receive 0 points. In order to get credit for a challenge you must
participate fully in the entire challenge and turn in a challenge assessment (form on Blackboard).
Students who do not participate at all, complete only portions of the challenge, and/or do not
complete a challenge assessment form receive 0 points.

Competitive challenges are graded win/pass/fail. The student or group that wins the challenge
receives 20 points so long as they participate fully in the entire challenge and turn in a challenge
assessment. All other students/ groups that participate fully in the entire challenge and turn in a
challenge assessment receive 10 points. Students/ groups that do not participate at all, complete
only portions of the challenge, and/or do not complete a challenge assessment form receive 0

Please note that although the challenges are only worth 100 points total, it is possible to earn
additional points by winning competitive challenges. For some of you winning a challenge may
offset a missed opportunity due to an absence. For others winning a challenge may offer you
“extra” points. If your challenge score is above 100 points the additional points will figure into
your grading calculation. That said, it is also possible to receive full credit for this area of the
course if you do not win any of the challenges so long as you pass each one.

There is no make-up option for challenges. If you miss a challenge you may have to make-up
some of the work—e.g. if you are absent from challenge #10 you will still be expected to write
thank you cards to our service-partners. However, you will not receive points for doing so. If
you are concerned about this please speak with me.

For group challenges group rosters will change throughout the semester. This way you will be
exposed to varying perspectives on both the theories and ways to best implement them.

Quizzes: 100 points total

There are 8 quizzes total. Each quiz is worth 12.5 points. Quizzes will test that you have read
the assigned readings prior to class meetings, draw your focus to areas of interest, and prepare
you for examinations. This is your chance to demonstrate that you are acquiring a working
knowledge of the theories and constructs. Quiz questions will primarily focus on glossary terms
and the “questions for further thought” located at the end of each chapter. Questions may also be
drawn from class lectures, discussions, and challenges. I will expect that you have a basic
understanding of material covered and can apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate various
perspectives in various persuasive contexts.

Question types may be objective (true-false, multiple-choice, matching, etc.), short answer, or
essay. All quizzes will be taken out of class using Blackboard. Quizzes will open on Fridays at
4pm and close on Mondays at 11pm. All quizzes must be completed independently during
this time-frame. Quizzes will not be given during class sessions. Quizzes are open-book/
open-note. There is no time limit so long as a student begins and ends during the time that the
quiz is open. Multiple attempts are not allowed—once you submit the quiz it will remain closed.
However, a student may stop and resume a quiz so long as they do so while the quiz is open.
Students may not collaborate on quizzes with any other person. Students may not make up a
quiz for any reason.

I recommend that you print a copy of your quiz answers/ feedback and use it to study for the
exams. While the questions will not be exactly the same, and the exams will not be open-note,
they will be similar in terms of question types, topics covered, and degree of difficulty.

Service-Learning Deliverables: 300 points total

You will work individually, in small groups, and as a class to understand, apply, evaluate, and
critically engage the course topics in order to benefit your service partner(s) and enrich your own
experience. You will produce three concrete “deliverables”: a process book that archives your
experiences, a grant application that builds and tests your persuasive writing skills, and a
fundraising event that merges the best practices you adopt from the theories with the messiness
of everyday life. The work of producing these deliverables will require committed engagement,
risk-taking, self-reflexivity, and perpetual revision!

Important: Students who fail to complete the minimum 30 hour requirement will receive a
final course grade of “F.” It is your responsibility to communicate with your instructor and
service-partner if problems arise that impact your ability to fulfill this requirement. In
extreme situations it may be possible to negotiate an incomplete or to change your assigned
partner. However, no student taking this course will be exempted from the 30 hour
To demonstrate you are on track to meet/ have met this requirement you must turn in a log
of your hours, signed by your service partner, each time you turn in your process books.
Students who fail to turn in an log of their hours with their Process Book I/ II will receive a
grade of 0 for the process book. Students who fail to turn in a log of their hours that
establishes they met the 30 hour requirement will receive a course grade of “F.”

Please be aware of the following due dates (also on the course calendar):
Jan. 22nd: Turn in “Choosing a Community Placement” Form
Jan. 27th: Receive Partner Assignment for Semester
Jan. 29th: Fundraiser Date/ Type Determined in Class; Accountability Standards for Fundraiser
Written by Students
Feb. 3rd: Turn in Fundraiser Accountability Contracts and Service-Learning Contracts
Feb. 19th: Turn in Grant Declaration Form
March 5th: Process Book I and Hours-Log (Hand it at Midterm)
March 17th, 19th, and 24th: Grant Group Meetings with Instructor and Draft 1 of Grant Due.
You will only come to class on the day of your scheduled meeting. The other 2 days are set aside
for you to meet with your group and work on challenge #8 and challenge #9.
April 7th, 9th, 14th, 16th: These are all possible dates for our fundraiser that occur during regular
April 17th: This is a possible date for our fundraiser that occurs out of normal class time. All
students taking the course must be available to participate in the fundraiser on this date if it is
scheduled then.
April 21st: Draft 2 of Grant Due; Fundraiser Self-Assessment Due
May 2nd: Process Book II, Final Hours-Log, and Final Draft of Grant (Hand it at Final)

Process Book I and II: 100 points total: During the semester you will maintain a record of your
service-learning experiences. Since I will not be with you during your various activities your
process book will act as an archive of sorts, capturing the key activities, contributions, and
connections you make this semester. You will turn your process book in for evaluation 2x during
the semester: the day of the mid-term and the day of the final exam. Each Process Book is worth
50 points. Please see the grading rubric on Blackboard for information about evaluation/
differing requirements for C/B/A level work. Students may receive different grades for each
Process Book (e.g. a “B” on Process Book I and an “A” on Process Book II).

Directed entries: I will give you a directed entry roughly 2x per week (once each class). For
directed entries you will respond to a question/prompt designed to help you engage the material.
For example, I may have you answer one of the “questions for further thought” in the text book.
I may also ask you to make connections between the lecture/reading and one of the challenges.
Directed entries may be hand written so long as they are legible. Students who wish to receive a
grade of C or better must complete directed entries.

Non-directed entries: In your process book you should write down your own observations and
reflections of what you do. You can write about your plans, your activities, your concerns, your
goals, your accomplishments, your set-backs, your insights, etc. You may include sketches,
photos, images, etc. that are relevant to your service-learning work. You may write these non-
directed entries in journal form (remember it is public!), in email form (you are welcome to type
emails to yourself, print them, and then paste them), as a blog (if you would like to keep an
online blog and then print the pages that will work), as a newsletter, as a column, etc. The point
is for you to document and communicate your experiences in a way that allows me to be aware
of and evaluate your engagement. Non-directed entries may be hand written so long as they are
legible. Students who wish to receive a grade of B or better must complete non-directed entries.

Articulated learning: This type of entry merges non-directed with directed. I will give you a
framework for critically reflecting on your service-learning and you will determine the focus of
your response. Articulated learning entries must be typed and pasted into your process book.
They should be roughly 4 paragraphs long. In addition to writing the articulated learning,
students must meet with the instructor to discuss their writing. Meetings will last 15 minutes and
must be scheduled prior to each process book due date. Students who wish to receive a grade of
B or better must complete 1 articulated learning and meeting for Process Book I and 1 articulated
learning and meeting for Process Book II.

Please remember to turn in your log of hours each time you turn in your process book!

Grant Writing Project 100 points total

Students will work with their service-partner to identify an area of need that the organization is
responding to and a potential grant to fund that need. Students will spend hands on time working
with their service-partner on activities that enable the student to learn more about and become
invested in the organization’s mission, activities, contributions, etc. Students will then draw from
this knowledge/investment and work (in small groups) to prepare a grant application that their
partner can submit. In most cases, students will not complete the budget section of the grant.

I have broken this process into smaller steps to allow you to get evaluative feedback on your
process and final product. You will do background research and identify a grant, submit multiple
drafts, hold a conference with me (the instructor), analyze the narratives developed by your
group and your peers, and give a class presentation of your grant proposal. While this does not
cover all of the stages of grant development, it should help give you a sense of what to expect
and major deadlines to meet.

Some of these stages will be part of our challenges and you will be evaluated in a pass/fail
manner. The specific stages evaluated as part of these 100 points are:
Grant Declaration: 10 points
Draft 1 and Instructor Meeting: 10 points
Draft 2: 20 points
Draft 3: 60 points
Please see the grading rubric on Blackboard for more detailed information about the grading
criteria for these stages.

Fundraising Project: 50 points total

Students will plan and carry out a fundraiser that jointly benefits the partners for the class. The
exact form of the fundraiser will be determined by January 29th and students will develop
accountability standards and a grading rubric at that time. Students will turn in accountability
contracts on February 3rd. All students will complete a self-assessment that communicates how
well they met the accountability standards. Self-assessments are due on April 21st.

Service-Partner Evaluation of Student: 50 points total

Partners will be consulted to evaluate how well the student fulfilled their contract with the
service-partner. Please see the “Partner Evaluation of Student Volunteer” to get a sense of what
types of feedback will be solicited from our service-partners. This feedback will be the primary
basis for determining this portion of the grade. Additional consideration may be given to the
instructor’s observations that respond to the questions posed.

Final Examination: 200 points total

The final examination will consist of a take-home (written) and in-class (oral) portion. The
examination is comprehensive and cumulative. Students will complete/ present their
examinations in groups and turn-in a written document that is a group effort. Additional
information and grading criteria will be provided during the week of April 21st.

If you are absent from a final examination, or if you are present and fail to submit the
examination, I will record a grade of FA if your grade would still be an F regardless of your
performance on a final examination. Otherwise, I will record a grade of AB, which converts to a
grade of F if your absence is unexcused. Only your Dean or Student Health Services can
authorize an excused absence from a final examination—instructors cannot authorize excused
absences from the final examination.

Final Grade Calculations:

930-1000 A 870-899 B+ 770-799 C+ 600-699 D
900-929 A- 830-869 B 730-769 C 0-599 F
800-829 B- 700-729 C-

**Regardless of total points, any student who does not complete the minimum 30 hours service-
learning component and turn in a final hours log signed by them and their partner will receive a
final course grade of “F.”
Course Polices √ Final Exam Schedule
√ ADA Compliance √ Honor Code
√ Announcements √ Late/Missed Work/E-Copies
√ Attendance/ Participation Submitted When a Hard Copy was
√ Cell Phones/ Pagers/ Computers Required
√ Contacting Your Instructor √ Technological Requirements

It is the responsibility of all students enrolled in COMM 312 to read and understand any policies,
laws, rules, or procedures that could affect the student's final grade for this course that are not
specifically outlined in this syllabus. These are contained in the UNC Undergraduate Bulletin.
The purpose of these policies is to ensure that all students are treated fairly and equitably, and to
provide a clear and thorough description of our responsibilities to one another and to ourselves.

ADA Compliance
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC–CH) ensures that no qualified person
shall by reason of a disability be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any
program or activity operated by the University. Each qualified person shall receive reasonable
accommodations to ensure equal access to educational opportunities, programs, and activities in
the most integrated setting appropriate. Students seeking accommodation should speak with me
and/or visit the Office of Disability Services web site at http://disabilityservices.unc.edu

If you would like to announce meetings, rallies, speakers, etc. that may be of interest to your
classmates, you will be invited to do so during the first few minutes of each class. Please limit
announcements to approximately 1-2 minutes.


Attendance at each session is mandatory; you must be present and participate in order to pass this
course. For example, you cannot complete challenges, participate in the fundraiser, work on the
grant narratives, or adequately master the course objectives if you do not prepare for, attend, and
engage the sessions. Since most of these learning activities cannot be made up, any absence
affects your learning and course evaluation. While I understand that it is sometimes necessary to
miss class (or arrive late/ leave early) this diminishes your ability to engage the class and
transfers the burden for your learning from YOU to your peers and instructor. Therefore,
students who miss more than 3 classes for any reason will have 25 points deducted from their
final grade for the 4th and each subsequent absence.

In addition to classroom attendance, you are expected to honor your commitments to our service-
partners. If you are unable to attend an event or complete a project on time you must
communicate this with your service-partner. Failure to do this will negatively impact your
“service-partner evaluation of student” and may jeopardize your ability to participate in this
course altogether. If you lose your service placement because your behavior is unreliable and/or
untrustworthy you will not be able to complete the 30 hour minimum and will therefore fail the
course. I don’t anticipate this will be a problem for you, but it is important that you not over-
commit and that you stay in touch if an emergency does arise.

Cell Phones/Pagers/Laptops
All cell phones and pagers will be set to silent mode or turned OFF during class time. It is not
acceptable to send/check text messages or email during class meetings. If you have a family
emergency that requires you to be in contact during the class period, please inform me at the
beginning of class. You do not need to share confidential, personal, or potentially embarrassing
information. You will then be asked to set your phone to the lowest audible setting and to excuse
yourself from the classroom for the duration of the call or when checking/composing a text

You are welcome to bring your laptop to class and use it to work on class related materials. If
you are using your laptop for other purposes I will ask you to stay after and speak with me. If
this becomes a perpetual problem then I will revise this policy to a “no laptops” policy.

Contacting Your Instructor

I encourage you to make an appointment to see me at least twice during the semester (those of
you completing articulated learning entries will do this anyway!). I have found that students who
take this advice tend to feel more satisfied with their experience in the course. I am happy to
discuss the class generally, as well as to review ideas for assignments, paper drafts, etc., as time
permits. You are more than welcome to contact me by cell phone (between 8am and 8pm). The
number is long distance, but I am more than willing to return your phone call, as I do not pay
long distance for calls I make. Feel free also to contact me via email with questions, concerns,
requests, etc. I only check email once each day (usually in the morning); allow 24 hours for
email response (48 on weekends). You can also text me if your concerns are brief.

Please Note: As you will no doubt discover, I also work at the UNC Writing Center. I may
schedule to meet with you there when I am not working as a tutor. However, when I am working
as a tutor you may not make appointments with me. If you accidentally do schedule with me
your appointment will either be cancelled or, if possible, another tutor will meet with you.

In general, I will do my best to understand and work with you if problems arise, but it is
important that you come to me early with your concerns. Do not wait until the end of the
semester to visit me, especially if you are having problems. My expectation is that you are taking
this class because you want to engage with the material, and that I will serve as a resource for
your learning.

Final Exam Schedule

See the Course Calendar for dates. The final exam will take place in our regular classroom. This
course follows the University policy for final exams. The final examination schedule cannot be
changed. Examinations are held at the time indicated, and all final examinations for on-campus
courses are given and taken on campus. If you have plans that prevent you from being present for
a final examination, do not register for the course. If you are absent from a final examination, or
if you are present and fail to submit the examination, the instructor records a grade of AB, which
converts to a grade of F if your absence is unexcused, or to an FA if your instructor specifies that
your grade would still be an F regardless of your performance on a final examination. Only your
Dean or Student Health Services can authorize an excused absence from a final examination.

In the event of a conflict between the registrar’s date for the examination and the date noted on
the syllabus you should defer to the registrar’s date and bring the error to my attention.

Honor Code
All work submitted in this course should represent your individual efforts except where the
assignment specifies collaboration with a member of the class- in which case the work should
represent the combined efforts of the group members who receive credit for the assignment and
who sign the honor pledge. Use of sources or others' material (in whole or in part) is to be
acknowledged through appropriate MLA citation. Your participation in this course comes with
the expectation that your work will be completed in full observance of the Honor Code.
Academic dishonesty in any form is unacceptable. If you have questions about the
responsibilities of students and faculty under the Honor Code, please consult. Or if you have
questions about how to avoid plagiarism, please visit the Writing Center. Please include a signed
pledge on all work turned in. Work that is missing a pledge will not be evaluated.

Late/Missed Work
Work is due on the due date at the beginning of the class session, except where otherwise noted
(e.g. the midterm exam is due at the end of the session). If you know ahead of time you will be
absent, please talk to me about the possibility of completing your work early. I will not give any
credit for late work. If you are ill you should arrange to have a friend drop off your work. Do
not email it to me, put it in my box, or slide it under my door! Instead, get the contact
information for a classmate who is willing to be your emergency contact and you can be theirs!

Technological Requirements

1. You will need to be able to open and print Microsoft Word and PDF files.
2. You will need to access video files in quicktime and real player.
3. You will need access to a computer to complete your assignments. If you do not have a
computer, please visit http://www.unc.edu/atn/labs/ and click on "schedules" for the
computer labs schedule and lab locations.
4. You will need to be able to log on to Blackboard (http://blackboard.unc.edu)-- this is our
course homepage. You should check blackboard at least once each week for
announcements and updated course materials.