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An effective introduction to interpersonal communication course requires you to self-reflect on your own communication as a way to make tangible improvements. Journal entries are a great opportunity to stop and contemplate interpersonal communication concepts and reflect on and evaluate how you currently use them. This in turn allows you to begin to shine a light on areas of your own communication that can be improved. Through the act of self-reflection, you can become a better communicator.
You are required to complete journal entries over the course of the semester. See syllabus and Canvas for due dates.
While these are often self-reflective and casual, you should be writing in complete sentences and using appropriate grammar and spelling. You also are expected to use specific interpersonal communication terminology from class (e.g., “self-disclosure” vs. “we talked about really personal stuff,” “nonverbal communication” vs. “body language”). Each journal entry will correspond to specific course concepts (see journal prompts), so be sure you are using them correctly; don’t just sprinkle in terms. Bold those terms every time you use them in your journals.
Each entry has specific content and page requirements. Some ask you to perform an out of class task, some ask you to read an article or watch a video and then respond, some ask you to take a self-quiz and reflect, and others ask you to reflect on an in-class activity. You can always journal more pages beyond the requirement, but note that your instructor will only read the required limit (usually 1-2 pages). Any private thoughts can be delineated with italics and will not be read.
Each entry should be a .doc or .pdf document titled with the journal number. Single space and include the following in the upper left corner: Your name, date, class and section number, and instructor’s name. Use 1” margins, double-space the body of your paper, and type using times new roman, 12 font, and include page numbers on the bottom right hand corners. Number responses. Entries will be submitted online when they are due.
See example journal formatting below.
August 31, 2018
COM 102.1001 Online
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See rubric below.
If you are unsure about what is required for a journal, please reach out to your instructor before submitting.
Journal #4 Entry Prompt
Recently we have all been advised to use social distancing strategies in our daily life. This includes staying home whenever possible, staying 6 feet or more away from other people, avoiding physical contact, wearing face coverings, etc. This journal will allow you to reflect on how you think social distancing is impacting your current interpersonal communication in a relationship. Focus on how things have changed and the impacts you see. Connect your experiences to specific terms you have learned in this class (use your notes and readings), such as, but not limited to:
- aspects of nonverbal communication (like haptics, proxemics, and kinesics)
- aspects of verbal communication (like misunderstandings and being direct vs indirect, particular words usage, topics of conversation)
- technology use (communicating online, video calls)
- emotion management (specific emotions like anger, sadness, fear, joy, and jealousy, strategies like encounter structuring, deactivation, reappraisal, Jefferson strategy, venting and suppression, providing and receiving empathy)
- aspects of listening (like being an active listener, offering backchannel cues, and positive feedback, and ineffective listening strategies like pseudo listening, narcissistic listening, selective listening, and offering negative feedback, etc.)
Answer the following questions, using course terms:
- Which relationship in your life would you like to discuss for this journal? Please choose the one with the most thorough discussion. (Friend(s), family member(s), romantic partner, roommate, coworker/supervisor.)
- Describe the medium used in your typical interactions with this person since social distancing. Include: do you live together? Meet in person face to face? Video call? Text/message/email? Social media? How often, and how long?
- How are your interactions different from before social distancing? Do you think these changes are beneficial or detrimental?
- How do you think these changes are impacting your relationship with this person? (Intimacy, disclosure, emotion sharing, conflict, etc.)
- What can you do differently to maintain your relationship with this person, while living in times of a global pandemic? Try to brainstorm a few things, even if you aren’t sure if it will work.
To move through the process of writing your culmination paper effectively, you will be documenting interactions with your chosen person throughout the semester in your communication log. The point is to first document how you typically communicate with your chosen person before you make any changes. We call these “baseline interactions.” After documenting a few of these you can choose areas to improve on (your paper topics), and then begin to implement real changes. (You will be guided along the way. Stay on task and this process will happen organically.) After researching your topics you will then document how you are attempting to improve your chosen communication skill and competency in your real life, and how this is impacting your relationship with the person you chose. We call these “progress interactions.” Taking detailed notes in your communication log this semester will help you analyze the interactions later, which will lead to a more complete culmination paper.
Document your interactions all semester in your chosen relationship. Follow the guidelines below.
The best way to approach this is to be prepared to take brief notes immediately after an interaction.
- An “interaction” will vary depending on your research topics, but might include a conversation, conflict, or moment of interaction/communication with your person. Note that these do not need to be major interactions. We don’t always have big conversations or big conflicts. Document the small stuff too.
- Some suggested ways to take immediate notes would be on your phone (create a memo, note, or video) or write your thoughts down on a piece of paper or small notebook.
- Use any method that makes the recording as quick and as easy as possible immediately after the interaction to help retain accuracy when you go to write about it in your com log in detail later.
- In your brief notes, document the 5 W’s about that interaction.
- Who: who was there/part of the interaction
- Where: where did the interaction occur
- When: when did the interaction occur (include dates and times if you can)
- What: what happened
- Why: what caused the interaction/what led up to the actual interaction/any back story
Later, transfer this information to your communication log (fill out the template below) where you go into more detail. (This will be checked for points mid semester; see criteria below for those points.)
- Fill out the 5 W’s on the log for each interaction you track. Use full sentences.
- You should have a minimum of three significant interactions logged by the time the culmination paper is due.
- Some will be longer detailed interactions, and some will be shorter quicker interactions.
- Write a reflection where you explain what you think you did effectively and ineffectively in the interaction and what you think you should improve upon for next time. Connect these thoughts to your research topics.
- Your entries should be progressive. For example, if you have a conflict in the first entry, your next entry should be the follow-up to that conflict, or how you interact with the person to try to repair any damage done or prevent any further conflict.
Lastly, you will use the info on the communication log to write up the last portions of your culmination paper: your personal journey about what happened this semester and how this project has impacted your relationship and real life.
How well you do on your culmination paper is connected to how complete and thorough the interactions are in your com log this semester. Your com log will be turned in for points several weeks before your final paper is due. It will be graded by full credit, half credit, or no credit. You will be evaluated on how fully you complete the requirements listed below. Full credit means you completely fulfilled all requirements. Half credit means you lacked in one to two requirements. No credit means you lacked in three of the requirements or did not submit.
- Logged the minimum amount of required interactions: 2 baseline and 2 progress.
- Each W section is filled out completely in full sentences.
- There is a thoughtful reflection after each interaction.
Culmination Paper Communication Log
Baseline Interaction 1
Baseline Interaction 2
Progress Interaction 1
Progress Interaction 2
Progress Interaction 3