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

Weight of assignments and semester grade

Your grade for the semester will be a weighted average of the following:

  • Mid Term I = 20 percent
  • Mid Term II = 20 percent
  • Final Exam = 30 percent
  • Abstracts = 10 percent

For undergraduates:

  • Unit Assignment Bibliography = 5 percent
  • Unit Assignment Discussion = 5 percent
  • Beyond the Classroom = 10 percent

For graduate students:

  • Graduate student paper = 20 percent

Use these weightings to figure your final grade.


There will be two exams (each 20 percent of your grade) plus a final (30 percent of grade). The exams will be objective; that is, they will ask you to identify speeches, answer multiple choice questions, and respond with some short answers. Another section on each test will award extra credit for your ability to reproduce text of famous speeches from memory. All examinations are "closed book" and all rules of the Code of Academic Integrity apply, including the use of the University Honor Pledge on each exam.

Recommendations for Study

I do have some recommendations for studying for these tests. Some questions will be mere recall: Who said "Give me liberty or give me death!"? Where were the eight places where Lincoln and Douglas conducted their famous debates? Who gave the featured speech at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg? Mastering the material for these questions is just a matter of the old process of studying and memorizing. Cramming might even work, but I don't recommend it.

Other questions will penetrate more deeply to see your understanding of underlying characteristics of speech in American communities: What was the role and the platform for speaking on the Virginia frontier of the 18th century? What are the sources of metaphor in the sermons of the Puritan communities? What motivation did the Southern church construct to protect the institution of slavery? Finally, some questions will ask you to invent messages from your mastery of the forms of discourse in American communities: Write a message you might use as a Puritan to convince your village to build a new road. Write a message that a member of the woman's suffrage movement might have used to justify granting women the vote. Mastering these more complex questions will require an active and continual use of your mind during the semester. No way to cram for this. This will be acquired only if: (1) you read the material before the class discussion, and as the semester proceeds are better able to generate your own observations to contribute to the class discussion; (2) you participate in the class discussion, testing your own ideas in the crucible of discussion; and (3) you go back over the reading after the discussion to see that you understand how the discussion got from the text to the observation. Work the material every day as you read it and you will be prepared. Another technique that previous class have found useful for the latter type of question is organized group study. One student should try to produce the discourse that might have been heard in the community and others should critique that effort. As each person in turn tries the exercise, all should learn.

Excused Absences and Make-up Exams

Make-up exams will only be available for excused absences. They will be a different exam and may have a different format than that described above. For eligibility for make-up exams see the material on requesting excused absences.

Information on how I grade exams