CMN 396

Capstone Seminar in Communication

Spring 2006


Dr. Daniel Makagon                                                              

Office: SAC 596

Office Hours: Tuesday 11:45-12:45 and by appointment                     

Phone: (773) 325-7376


home page:                    


Course Description


This course fulfills your senior year requirement of the Liberal Studies Core. It is taught by the Communication Department for its majors, but you will receive Liberal Studies credit rather than Communication credit. The purpose of this course is to provide a transition between undergraduate education and either the world of work or movement into a professional or graduate program and to link communication skills, knowledge, and competencies with liberal arts and sciences as you contemplate major issues facing our society. Students will be asked to reflect upon these issues, drawing from not only the readings but also your undergraduate education at DePaul, both in liberal arts and the major. Students will select the topics/themes for the second half of the quarter. Finally, students will have the opportunity to create and complete a senior project of your choice.


Course Objectives


This course is designed to allow students to reflect on the learning derived from their undergraduate education (liberal studies, major, and minor) in order to reach theory-based conclusions about self-identity, social relationships, liberal education, and future directions. Thinking abilities (analysis, synthesis, critical thinking, and evaluation), discussion abilities, written competencies, interdisciplinary connections, disciplinary learning, ethical issues, and theoretical applications also serve as underpinnings to both course content and pedagogy.


The objectives are as follows:


1. Students will identify sources that were meaningful in their educational formation, and dialogue with others about their impact and significance, including multicultural perspectives.


2. Students will utilize skills in close reading, analysis, critical thinking, writing, and small group communication in a senior experience that nurtures cross-disciplinary appreciation, and independent synthesis.


3. Students will structure and complete a learning activity deemed personally significant, and thereby, clarify the connection between course studies, critical and creative thinking, and life applications.


4. Students will demonstrate presentational competencies through this capstone project.



Course Organization


This course is a seminar in which we all read selected materials and discuss them and their relevance to our lives. For discussion to be rich and fruitful, it is imperative that we read the assignments carefully and contemplate questions and comments about them. You also should come to class prepared not only to engage the readings fully but also to make connections among readings from week to week and to move beyond the readings to your previous coursework, your lives, experiences, hopes, and dreams. During the first three weeks we will cover instructor chosen readings and activities to engage the topics. The fourth and fifth weeks will be used for individual appointments with the instructor, the outcome of which is an accepted proposal for your senior project. The sixth week will cover instructor chosen readings and activities. After week six, we move into the portion of the course that is student driven. For the next three weeks (weeks 7, 8, and 9), while you concentrate on finishing your senior project, we will cover theme-driven, student-selected readings and media events that allow you to share meaningful materials with one another while we continue the seminar. Students will be responsible for identifying themes and working in groups to select materials for those three weeks. Each theme-related group will plan the class for the night of their topic and lead the activities and discussions. Finally, students will present their senior projects in the final class sessions.



Required Readings


All course readings are available on-line. Download and print the files.





Most readings will not be available until week 6 of the quarter. This packet will include all of the readings from the three student groups for weeks 7, 8 and 9 of the quarter.





There are five graded aspects to this course, which are weighted as follows:


Participation                                                    10%

Reflection Essay                                              15%

Quizzes                                                           20%

Course Leadership (Group Presentation)        20%

Senior Project                                                  35%



Reflection Essay


After completing the readings and discussions in week two, you will write a 3-5 page essay that responds to the readings and discussion on the value of liberal education, critical thinking and moral intelligence. This essay should do some of the following: (1) Pull from the readings and discussion to situate your commentary; (2) Pull from previous coursework in liberal studies and communication to frame your response; (3) Identify conflicting arguments or information from the readings and outline your own well-explained stand on these issues; (4) Respond to and criticize the readings; and finally (5) Take a theoretical perspective for your commentary. What I am really looking for is that you have engaged the readings and the topics in thoughtful, profound ways.


Your essay should include a bibliography and in-text citations for all information and quotes used from the articles. This assignment is due April 20th.




Quizzes will be held at various times throughout the quarter on the readings. When group presentations occur, each group will create a quiz on their readings. Groups will provide a range of questions (multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and fill in the blank). I will select the questions from each group's suggested list.


Course Leadership (Group Work)


Each student will join one of three groups who will be responsible for two class periods in the second half of the quarter. Students will select the three topics to be covered and join one group during the second day of class. Groups may not divide up a huge topic and have six or seven different presenters – i.e., have everyone do their own thing. Rather, the class sessioins should be thematic and smooth.


The responsibilities of the group will be to plan the class sessions:


1.     Your group will select the readings (from 30-40 pages) and any other material or activity to be used that evening. All material that needs to be scanned for the class must be delivered to me by May 2nd. (If you are scanning your own materials, make sure the scans are of clean copies, black and white, and 300DPI. Email me the scans so I can put them in the folder.)


2.     Confirm that students did the readings by developing a quiz for the class to take (and provide me with a key for the quiz with which to grade it). Your quiz should contain a variety of questions (e.g., multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blank, and True/False) and you should provide me with more questions than will be used. I will select which questions will be on the quiz the students take and will Xerox the quiz for the class.


3.     Lead the discussions and/or exercises appropriate to the topic. Here the team has two primary objectives: (1) to stimulate class discussion in such a way that many students participate, and (2) to direct the discussion in such a way that students learn how the readings are tied together and linked to the topic at hand. (NOTE: Do not simply lecture about the material to the class.)


4.     Evaluate yourself and people within your group. My own and your classmates' evaluations of the group presentation will be added to the grades you generate.


NOTE: Each group has the right to kick out a non-participating member. Any member kicked out of their group automatically loses the points for this group project, i.e., 20% of your total grade. The group should exercise EVERY means possible for getting the group member to do his/her part. In the event that the individual still does not participate, the group should speak with me before kicking out the member.


I am more than happy to work with your groups if you would like my input.


5.     You will turn in a written agenda and analysis of the readings. Type a 3-5 page (double-spaced) report. Analysis: Do not simply summarize the reading materials, but indicate why you chose them (connections to liberal studies, communication, and the topic) and provide your own critical thinking and in-depth analysis of the readings. Agenda: Create an agenda for leading the class discussion. Be specific in describing what you will say to the class, the questions you will ask, and your procedures for conducting any activities. (NOTE: Do not just list what you plan to do; instead, provide a rationale for each step of your group's presentation.)


Grades are based on the following percentages: My evaluation of your presentation (40%), My evaluation of your written agenda (40%), peer evaluations (10%), class evaluations (10%).


Senior Project


This course provides the opportunity for you to select a project you would like to complete prior to graduation. This project is individualized and has few guidelines beyond your interest and do-ability. For example, it can be a traditional research paper, a story board, a radio show, a journalistic endeavor, original research, a substantive revision of a paper/video you wish to submit with an application to graduate school, a performance, a future job related product, writing or compiling and revising your creative works such as poetry or fiction, etc. Depending on the topic, I may need to suggest you work with another professor in Communication to guide you. You should start thinking about this project immediately. As soon as you have an idea of what you want to do, or if you don't have a clue, please make an appointment or stop by my office hours, so we can discuss it.


During the third week of the quarter, I will review your proposal (3-5 pages) for the project and meet with you to discuss it. Your proposal should clearly state what you intend to do, what your sources and data are, or, if it is a creative project, an outline of your goals and a description of the product. All proposals are due April 13th.


Finally, you will complete the project, present it formally to the class, and hand it in to me. Each step of this process will contribute to its grade as follows: proposal = 5%, presentation to class = 5%, senior project product = 25%.


Further guidelines: If you choose to rework a previous project (i.e., revise a paper for graduate school or re-edit/revise a project you've made), then you must present the original along with the proposal and state in the proposal the types of changes you intend to make. If you choose to create a performance as your senior project, it must be at least five minutes in length and contain original material or a series of thematically-similar materials from authors. Your proposal will need to specify the details clearly. If you hope to use a product from another current class to fulfill this requirement, you must put me in contact with the other professor, so we can discuss how to expand the product in ways that fulfill requirements in two classes.


Writing Guidelines


All papers must be typed, double-spaced throughout the entire essay, and use a consistent style (e.g., Chicago, MLA, or APA). Use one-inch margins and 12-point font. Please include a title page that contains your name, the date, the assignment, and any other information you feel compelled to include. Do not send me electronic copies of your work. Also, see the syllabus addendum (available in the folder that contains pdfs for this class) for a description of my grading policies and expectations as well as further details about written assignments.


Contact or visit the Writing Center for assistance with your writing: Lincoln Park at 802 W. Belden, 150 McGaw Hall, 773-325-4272. The Loop at 25 E. Jackson, 1620 Lewis Center, 312-362-6726.


Course Policies


Attendance and Active Participation are expected and required. Participation grades are factored by considering how often you participate in class discussion and how that discussion advances our overall learning (i.e., I will consider how your questions help us understand difficult passages, how your contributions further discussion rather than hinder discussion, how your comments foster lively debate, how your participation grows from an engagement with the reading and college experience rather than functioning to advance an autobiographical tale only). If you miss very few classes and your participation level is excellent, you can expect an "A" for this portion of your grade. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is above average (i.e., you participate every other class rather than every class session), you can expect a "B" for this portion of your grade. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is average, you can expect a "C" for this portion of your grade. If you miss the most possible classes you can miss without failing the class and your participation level is average, you can expect a "D" for this portion of your grade.

Promptness is expected as a general rule. If you are consistently late to class, your grade will be negatively affected.

If you miss more than two consecutive days of class because of an illness or family emergency, you will need to contact the Dean of Students Office and have them send me a note that includes all dates for the excused absences. I will only coordinate missed work if I receive this documentation. Additionally, if you miss more than four class sessions, you will receive an "F’ in the class (even if the absences are excused). Missing this many class sessions (1/5 of the term) undermines the integrity of the classroom experience. If you miss this much class because of illness or a family emergency, you should meet with the Dean of Students to discuss withdrawal options.

All assignments are due on assigned days. There will be NO MAKE UPS. Documented illnesses or documented emergencies are the only exception to this policy. Changes in work schedules, personal celebrations (e.g., birthdays), or vacations are NOT considered to be legitimate reasons for missing assignment deadlines or class meetings. If you miss a quiz and have documentation for your absence then you will take the quiz on the next date you attend class. Similarly, if you have an excused absence for a class session when you would turn in a paper then you can give me the paper on the next date you attend class. (Note: If you will be missing a class because of a religious holiday, let me know in writing at least two weeks before the holiday so we can make arrangements to make up missed work.)


Students with disabilities should provide me with documentation from the Office of Students with Disabilities.


If you have a cellular phone or pager, turn it off or set it to vibrate. Plagiarism will be discussed below but for now you should note that all cell phones must be put away during quizzes and you should not be sending or reading text messages during class sessions.





I have often found that plagiarism becomes tempting if students are feeling pressured. Remember, when in doubt quote. If you are quoting somebody directly then you need to list the information within quotation marks and cite a page number. If you are paraphrasing then you need to cite the person and a page number. Never copy and paste entire documents into your paper and do not quote others to the point where your ideas become indistinguishable from your source's ideas. There is no reason to plagiarize given the resources available to you (e.g., opportunities to meet with me; coaches in the writing center; my handout on writing for the class; and DePaul's policy on academic integrity, which can be found at If you do plagiarize, you will automatically receive a grade of "F" in this class. Moreover, the Academic Affairs office will be contacted.


Grade Scale


93-100            A                     78-79   C+                  

90-92               A-                    73-77   C                    

88-89               B+                   70-72   C-                   

83-87               B                     60-69  D

80-82             B-                    0-59    F