COMM 460
Fall 2014

Assignments and Examinations



Speech Abstracts

Undergraduate Unit Project

"Beyond the Classroom" Experiences

Graduate Paper

Late Papers and Incompletes

Academic Integrity

Disabilities and Religious Holidays

Home Page

"Beyond the classroom" Experiences

There are a number of ways those living in our area can become more familiar with the communities and speeches we study this semester.

  • Visits to historical sites. The website contains a list of sites in this area where you can learn through living history about the communities we will be studying. There are also a number of sites in the Washington area where speeches we will study this semester were given. For example, you will read a lot about the Gettysburg Address and Gettysburg is a short drive from College Park. The Webster/Hayne debate took place in the old Senate Chamber at the Capitol Building. There are others. Having access to those sites is an advantage you have over students at nearly every other university in the country. What a shame to miss this opportunity. Remember that although many of these sites have websites, you need to visit the physical site and not just the virtual site. Only then will you be able to satisfy the requirement for a report on the site. To fulfill this option you will visit sites you select from this list, then write a report on your visit explaining what you learned relevant to public life and the speaking or speeches in the commuity . That report should: (1) describe what you learned at the site and (2) how the site changed the way you understand public life or the speaking in the community, or a speech you have studied. (Remember when you visit that the capital of the free world is no longer as free as it once was. Check security levels at the site before you go.)

  • Museum Visits. Also included on the sites list are a number of museums in the Washington area that feature exhibits related to the communities we will study. These are also listed on the website. Sorry, no internet only sites, although you may supplement your visit with its internet site. Following your visit to one of these exhibits, write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of our course through the visit, and (2) how the exhibit changed the way you understand public lifeand the speaking in a community, or a speech you have studied.

  • Videoexperiences. There may well be programs broadcast on the "American Experience" series on PBS that provide insight into communities or speeches we have studied. There is a website that will provide you a list of videos students have had success with in the past. Many of these videos are available in our library; others are available for purchase, some even available these days online. These program or videotapes are typically from one hour to six hours in length. A particular kind of videoexperience is the Hollywood film. These fictional dramas are not particularly good for the assignment and are downright dangerous if you assume you are seeing a historical moment. But when well done, part of the "believability" of the film is the recreation of the community in which the story is set. When well done, they can provide a vivid portrayal of life there. So, should you decide to watch a film, remember that historical accuracy is not necessarily the director's goal and make certain you are not falling into the trap of mistaking fiction for historical event. You may watch one of these videoexperiences, then write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of our course, and (2) how the program changed the way you understand public life, the speaking or a speech that you have studied.

  • Book Reports. Or you can do a good old fashioned book report. Read a historical study of some community, speaker, or speech we have studied. You will find some examples listed on the class bibliography although you may also find some other reading you want to do. If so, check it out with me. Whole books only.  Chapters or journal articles will not satisfy the requirement.  Write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of our course through reading the book, and (2) how reading the book changed the way you understand public life and speaking in a community, or a speech you have studied.

Other things may come up as the semester goes along that would suffice to meet this assignment. Such options will be posted on the website. You also can check any possibility with me.  I strongly recommend that you select material that relates to units that we are currently studying or that we have studied.  It will make it easier for you to see relationships to the material of the class.

You will do three of these activities (drawn from at least two of the categories above) during the semester. You need to submit one report each month: September, October, and November. (You get December off). Early reports are welcome, but no late reports will be accepted. The report should be properly formatted and printer-produced, and be 250-500 words (1-2 pages).

Some additional suggestions

From previous uses of this assignment there are four other restrictions that should be explicit:

  • The grade is earned from the learning that the outside activity fosters, not from the activity itself. So, make certain you are learning while you are experiencing and can express what you have learned. Most “U’s” are earned from this failing.

  • Activities will be easier to write about if you do them simultaneous with or after we have talked about the community in class related to that particular activity.

  • You may find opportunities that are not included on the website. You may do those after clearing them with me, but clearing them with me (specifically via email) is a good idea.

  • Please notice that just visiting websites does not fulfill the requirement. You may look at websites in conjunction with a visit, a museum, a program or a book. But these websites should merely supplement your activity. I expect to see learning beyond that provided by a "virtual tour" as I read your report.


Reports will be graded S/U. An "S" will indicate that you have provided me evidence of the two criteria specified above for your type of submission. Also notice that you must do at least two different types of activities.

The semester grade (ten percent of the total grade) will be calculated according to the following: one "S" = D; two = C; three = A.