Topic: Paper Assignment

Order Description

Objective: To apply a concept from the reading to analyze a communication situation (or “case”) from your life.

Description: In these response papers, you will apply one clear concept from the readings and apply it to a relationship from your own life. Draw on a concept that is

featured in the week’s readings and resonates with or “speaks to” your experiences. Make sure your paper is about an organizational experience if possible.

Worth: 100 points

• 3 to 4 pages long (not counting the title page or the reference page)
• Title page
• Your paper should have clear and understandable sentences and paragraphs
• Your paper must be proofread and virtually free from typographical errors
• Typed, double-spaced, stapled (no plastic covers please)
• APA style throughout the paper

Expected Structure:
I. Introduction (1 Paragraph)
• Opening: Write 2-3 sentences that guide your audience to the thesis. Your opening should go from general to specific. If your paper is about your family

communication, for example, your first sentence should be about family communication generally. Your next sentence or two should probably discuss some issue

within family communication. Your opening frames the topic for us and leads to your thesis
• State the purpose of the essay: This short sentence explains what the essay does. For example, “In this essay, I apply family systems theory to my recent

discussion with my mother and father about how to spend the holidays.”
• Thesis: Give one clear sentence that states the argument in your paper. A good thesis is a clear, concise thesis. For example, “I argue that my family made showed

high levels of communication but low levels of conformity in our discussion.”
• Preview: Preview the main remaining parts of the paper. Keep it short. First, I explain family systems theory, next I analyze my family’s discussion, and finally, I

offer some practical recommendations.

Part 1 (Concept)
II. Define and explain the main concept you focus on in the forthcoming case (1 paragraph)
• Write a well-developed paragraph with a clear topic sentence.
• Define the concept clearly.
• Quote and cite passages directly from the text with author’s last names, date, and page numbers.
• Do not start a sentence with a quotation from the text. You must introduce all quotations. E.g., Littlejohn and Foss (2008) explain that strategic ambiguity

describes how “people may communicate unclearly but still accomplish their goals” (p. 32). Also, explain the concept in your own words clearly and provide some

brief examples to illustrate it. Do not yet introduce or discuss anything from your case.
• Put the concept in your own words, but don’t stretch its meaning.
• Provide a brief example that illustrates the concept in action

Part 2 (“case”)

II. Analyze your case (2 or so paragraphs)
• Use a clear topic sentence that mentions the case and the concept. E.g., “My boss recently used strategic ambiguity to discuss the cleanliness of the office.”
• Explain the case in detail.
• Be sure to provide lots of communication details (e.g., vivid details, direct quotes from conversations—as accurately as you can remember). The communication

involved is your “data.”
• Vague or general statements (e.g., “We were yelling at each other.”) will make for poor analyses. Get specific and detailed. Give us a “slow motion” look at key

moments in the communication.
• Important: As you explain your case, use the vocabulary of the theory to “pick apart” or analyze what is/was happened in the case. Quote and cite a source to

support your point
• Important: Toward the end of this section once your story is told, be sure to provide a few thoughtful analytical sentences that tie the examples in the case

together with the concept.

Part 3
III. Recommendations (Provide 3 recommendations, 1 paragraph for each recommendation)
• Give a good topic sentence that mentions “recommendations.” E.g., “I draw three recommendations from the analysis above.”
• Based on the theory and the case, what are 1-2 pieces of advice you would give yourself? What are 1-2 pieces of advice you can offer to the other person(s)

• Important: Develop one full paragraph for each recommendation. Also, include one recommendation for the other person/people involved (2-3 recommendations

• Number each recommendation clearly. E.g., “First, I should have asked clarifying questions to make sure . . . “Second, I should have offered some examples to get

my bosses reaction to . . .” “Third, my boss should have just told us exactly what he wanted because . . .”
• What should you have done? Use the word “should.” What should you do differently the next time your in a situation like that. Give hypothetical examples that

show ideal communication.
• Base your advice on the concepts from the theory and the case. Don’t simply give advice from your everyday common sense.
• Cite a source somewhere in the middle of each recommendation paragraph to support your point.

IV. Conclusion (1 paragraph)
• Signal the end of the essay. E.g., “In conclusion, . . .” (or something like it)
• Restate the purpose of the essay
• Restate the thesis
• End with a final thought or two that reflects or looks forward in some way


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