Courses

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? … your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine … and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

M. Williamson

I have had the opportunity to teach a variety of courses over the years. Below I list those where I have served as a primary instructor, and where possible, I include a link to description or handbook. Please note: these handbooks are exemplars only. Current students should refer to the appropriate Canvas page for the most recent handbook. 

Courses at University of Amsterdam

  • Emerging Tech in Communication Science (graduate course, forthcoming Spring 2020)
  • Developing Media Entertainment (graduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    Entertainment media today are a multi-billion dollar business. Commercial companies, broadcasters, governments, and the general public: they are all interested in how and why entertainment media are used, albeit for different reasons. With the
    growth of new media, users now engage with entertainment media wherever and whenever. Young people are among the earliest adopters of these technologies, which is why organizations feel increasingly compelled to learn about these users, to
    tailor their products to their users’ needs, and to know the newest insights that research can offer about media preferences. In this specialization seminar, you will be prepared to satisfy this rapidly growing need for knowledge and advice. We
    will address several crucial developments in young people’s media use and preferences. In particular, we will discuss how age (and, relatedly, media experience) is among the best determinant of media preferences. We will define distinct age
    groups that have distinct preferences and needs, and thus require different approaches to reach and satisfy these needs. In doing so, you will gain key insights into how to development entertainment media for different target groups.

    During the seminar sessions, we will discuss theory and research on young’s people relationship with entertainment media. We will spend time each week working to understand a specific age group in terms of their cognitive, emotional, and social
    needs – and then will connect these needs to specific media preferences. Through various individual and group assignments, you will have the opportunity to apply your acquired academic knowledge to practical situations and socially-relevant
    issues.

    A crucial part of this seminar is the “Company Meets Student” project. In this project, you will work as a consultant for a social or commercial organization who is interested in reaching a specific audience via media. You will conduct research
    for this client to help them learn about the needs and preferences of their target audience. You will then use this research evidence, combined with the scientific knowledge acquired in class, to provide your client with a clear set of
    actionable recommendations. You will share your findings in the form of a consultancy report as well as via client presentation. Finally, you will complete the course by writing an academic paper based on the consultancy project research.

  • Digital Media Lifestyles (graduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    The use of and growth in digital media has been dramatic. Both commercial and nonprofit
    industries are feverishly working to understand how they can capitalize on digital media with
    their audiences – reflecting on the “digital media lifestyles” of different audiences. In this
    class, students will become knowledgeable about digital media trends, theoretical
    perspectives, and will be able to identify the potential benefits of digital media for different
    audiences. We will look at the ways that digital media is being used throughout our lives –in
    entertainment, social life, education, and behavior. With each topic, we will ask how digital
    media use varies for different audiences so that you are equipped to identify how individual
    needs influence digital media use preferences. Moreover, each week we will zone in on a
    particular digital media format and reflect on the so-called ‘best practices’ for that digital
    media format. By focusing on different content areas, different audiences, and different
    media formats, you will learn how to identify the best digital media for your message and for
    your target group. The class culminates in a group-based assignment in which students apply
    their digital media knowledge to the development of a digital media prototype for a specific
    target audience and topic. This is a hands-on project in which students are expected to apply
    their knowledge of user-centered design. This project provides students the opportunity to
    practice key skills that are critical for future careers in both commercial and nonprofit
    sectors.

  • Youth as Media Consumers (graduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    In this Youth and Media specialization seminar, we identify and examine various age groups as media consumers, ranging from infancy (0-2 years) to emerging adulthood (18-25 years). Young people are the primary users of new media technologies,
    and both public and commercial institutions are increasingly compelled to tailor their offerings to the preferences of ever younger age groups. Social organizations from all over the world, including schools, governmental agencies, and public
    broadcasters, have an extensive need for knowledge about youth and media. This interest, however, is not exclusive to social organization. Advertisers, internet providers, and commercial networks are also highly interested in youth.

    In the seminar, you will be prepared to satisfy this rapidly growing need for knowledge and advice about youth as media consumers. We will address several crucial developments in young people’s media use and preferences, and define five
    distinct age groups that have distinct tastes and wants, and require different approaches to reach and satisfy them.

    Specific questions that will be addressed are: How do (media) preferences develop from infancy to emerging adulthood? What are the consequences of these preferences for media use and effects? What predicts the successes and failures of media
    contents and technologies (e.g., computer games, advertising, social network sites) in different age groups?

    During the seminar sessions we discuss theory and research on young people’s development as media consumers. Special attention will be devoted to the ethical treatment of young people both as research subjects and as a target audience. Through
    various individual and group assignments, the acquired academic knowledge will be applied directly to practical cases and socially-relevant issues. An important asset of this seminar is that you will be trained to write a convincing consultancy
    report for a social or commercial organization. You will write two consultancy reports during this class, the first to practice this challenging skill. Based on extensive feedback on this first report, you will be able to fulfill the group
    assignment, in which you will write a more extensive consultancy report on how to reach a certain age group based on a research project addressing an existing case study.

  • Persuasion & Resistance (graduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    Many people think that advertising, health and public information campaigns are a strong force to persuade audiences. However, increasingly, people avoid campaign messages. When confronted with a persuasion attempt in media, audiences
    experience a certain amount of resistance, often referred to as ‘resistance towards persuasion’. In this seminar, we study resistance from the perspective of both audiences and advertisers. We examine the strategies that audiences use to guard
    themselves from influence of persuasive messages, for example counter arguing, avoidance, inoculation, source derogation, social validation, selective exposure, and attitude bolstering. In addition, the development and use of persuasion
    knowledge and ad literacy are discussed. We also study the strategies that advertisers use to decrease receivers’ reluctance and hence foster persuasion, such as using newer advertising formats (e.g., advergames, entertainment-education, online
    advertising), addressing resistance directly (e.g., two-sided messages), addressing resistance indirectly (e.g., self-affirmation), and consuming resistance (e.g., depletion).

  • Content Analysis (graduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    Content analysis is one of the major data-gathering methods in communication studies. Its purpose is to systematically describe symbolic material of all sorts – in our case text, sound, still and moving pictures in media content, or in the
    messages of other channels of information. Communication researchers conduct content analyses to learn about sources that are not available or not able or willing to tell us about their intentions. Content analysis also yields valuable
    information about society and culture. Sometimes we use content analysis to find out about the audience: Who could be attracted by such a message? Or we may want to say something about the potential effects of a message. In other words, content
    analysis is a versatile tool for making inferences on all elements of the communication process. But this is not without challenges: the analysis itself has to be conducted reliably, and the validity of the conclusions that we want to draw from
    a “text” to its production, reception, and must be carefully justified.

    Topics of the course:

    • What is content analysis? The value and the validity of content analyses.
    • Systematic Quantitative Content Analysis (SQCA).
    • Systematic Interpretative Content Analysis (SICA).
    • Computer-Assisted Content Analysis (CACA).
  • Research Methods in Communication Science (graduate course)

Courses at School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania

  • Quantitative Reasoning (graduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    The primary goals of this are (1) to provide students with a solid understanding of the logic of social science research as well as (2) to provide students with an introduction to a broad range of statistical methods commonly used in social
    science research. The first portion of the semester concentrates on defining research problems, research design (including sampling, measurement, and causal inference), and assessing research quality. The latter portion of the semester focuses
    upon data analysis including descriptive statistics, measures of association for categorical and continuous variables, introduction to t-tests, ANOVA and regression, and the language of data analysis. Students will learn how to choose and apply
    statistical tools to data sources, how to interpret quantitative studies, and will gain experience using SPSS – a statistical software package.

Courses at Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

  • Communication and Public Service Capstone/Senior Honors Thesis (undergraduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    Each student enrolled in this course is completing either a senior honors thesis or COMPS capstone thesis. This is a required course for any student completing a capstone or senior honors thesis. This course is designed to help ensure that you
    complete your thesis research in a timely manner as well as offer you adequate opportunities to address issues or questions that you may have. In addition to the assigned course time, you will be expected to meet individually with your
    professor throughout semester to discuss your research in more detail. Course meeting time and individual meetings will provide you ample time to discuss your research progress and solicit feedback from both the professor and your peers in the
    course. Course assignments will directly contribute to the successful completion of your thesis.

  • Quantitative Communication Research (undergraduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    This course is a general overview of the important components of social research. The primary goal of the course is solid understanding of the logic of social science research. The first third of the semester concentrates on defining research
    problems, research design (including sampling, measurement, and causal inference), and assessing research quality. These concepts are then illustrated through reviews of four research areas: survey research, evaluation research, qualitative
    studies, and content analysis. The last third of the semester focuses more on descriptive and inferential statistics, measures of association for categorical and continuous variables, and the language of data analysis. For those classes, we
    make use of SPSS, a PC program useful for learning statistics. Most topics are illustrated through class exercises and reading published articles, this year focusing on the influence of the media on children and other similar communication
    research topics. This course fulfills the undergraduate quantitative data analysis requirement.

  • Children & Media (undergraduate course)
    Syllabus | Course Description

     

    Children and Media is designed to provide students with an understanding of the nature of children’s media and the impact of these media on children. The course begins by evaluating the beliefs we have about the nature of childhood and then
    introduces students to several theories on how children develop. Following this, we will examine children’s access to and use of media, as well as the social contexts that surround this use. Finally, we will focus on media effects and the
    related efforts to regulate children’s media.

  • Children & Media: Cognitive Development (undergraduate course)
  • Communication, Childhood, & Play (undergraduate course)
  • Communication Research with Children and Families (undergraduate course)