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FIU School of Journalism & Mass Communication

MMC 6950

Syllabus Spring 2015

Mass Communication Professional Projects (3 Credits)
Instructor: David J. Park

Class Location: ACII 208 (BBC)

Class Time: 6:25-9:05 pm (Tuesdays)

Office Location: ACII / 328A

Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:30-5:00 pm.

Phone: 305-919-5662

Course Description
Professional Project is designed to demonstrate the student’s excellence in an area of communication study. This course provides guidelines and direction to graduate students completing their Professional Projects.
Completion of 27 credit hours.

Completion of MMC 5440 (Research)

Course Objectives
1). Apply skills students have learned during their Masters program.

2). See requirements for Professional Project guidelines.

Student Learning Outcomes

1). Understand relevant concepts and apply theories to contemporary issues.

2). Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity.

3). Think critically, creatively and independently.

4). Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences, and purposes they serve.


The School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) fosters an environment of inclusivity and respect for diversity and multiculturalism. The SJMC educates students to embrace diversity and understand the root causes of discrimination, as well as social, ethnic, sexual, disability and gender-based exclusion.


Text & Readings
This syllabus includes information that will guide the student through all necessary steps required for the successful completion of the professional project. Project guidelines are included, as they are also available on the SJMC website. Please read these documents carefully. They offer all of the information needed to successfully complete your project.
* Students will work independently and closely with the professor on all aspects of their professional projects during class time.
You will also need to hand in 2 completed and bound copies of your finalized professional project at the due date listed on the syllabus. The bound copies have to be connected with a black spiral, a black back page and a clear cover. You will also need to include a digital version on either a jump drive or CD/DVD. These are required for you to graduate. A grammar/punctuation reference book, Associated Press (AP) and American Psychological Association (APA) style manual, dictionary and thesaurus will also be beneficial for you.

Communication with the Instructor

It is University policy for faculty to communicate with students via FIU e-mail. Please check your email for communications from your instructor. If you use another e-mail provider, please link your FIU e-mail with your personal e-mail so communication is forwarded.

My preference is to be contacted in person during my office hours; that should always be your first option. I urge you to contact me if you need guidance or direction on any issue concerning your project. Otherwise call my office or email me. I should be able to get back to you within a 48 hour window.

Review of Previous Professional Projects
Students are highly encouraged to review previous professional projects EARLY in the semester to get a feel for the high standards of professional work typically expected as well as how other students have organized their projects. You may find these in the Resource Center on the 3rd floor of ACII.
The final grade is based on the student’s ability to master the cumulative intellectual and professional skills presented in our master’s program as demonstrated through the professional project. A passing grade for the professional projects is a B- and above. In order to graduate from the GSC and FIU you have to have a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average.
The following grade scale will be used: A-F.
Note: No late papers will be accepted. I only accept hard copy papers given to me at the start of class on the due dates. If you miss the deadline, you get no feedback and risk failing or receiving an incomplete at the end of the semester. Please read and sign the form on the last page of this syllabus indicating you have read and understand this.
Important Dates
Jan 20 = last day to add, drop or swap a course without financial liability

Jan 21st = Spring payment due

Feb 6 = last day to apply to graduation
Ethical Conduct & Plagiarism

Academic Honesty: In meeting one of the major objectives of higher education, which is to develop self-reliance, it is expected that students will be responsible for the completion of their own academic work. Student must follow the Standards of Conduct described in the student handbook. ( Students are expected to use all resources, including books, journals, and computers only in legal and authorized ways.

Participants are expected to perform individual assignments without consulting each other. This practice “homogenizes” the thinking brought to the class, negatively impacting the discussion and our learning experience. Participants in this course are also reminded that materials may not be pasted or paraphrased from printed, electronic or any other sources without appropriate citations and credits. The use of literature, notes, aids, or assistance from other sources should be clearly identified with respect to all course assignments and examinations. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in penalties as set forth by University policies.

Course Outline (Subject to change at instructor’s discretion)
Jan 13 – orientation, work on proposals

Jan 20 – proposals due at beginning of class

Jan 27 – work w/ professor on introduction

Feb 3 – work w/ professor on problem statement (lit review)

Feb 10 – work w/ professor on situation analysis (research Qs or hypotheses)

Feb 17 – work w/ professor on problems and opportunities –SWOT (methodology

Feb 24 – DUE DATE!: Project A: executive summary, introduction, problem statement, situation

analysis, problems and opportunities (SWOT) DUE.

Project B: introduction, literature review, research questions or hypotheses, methodology DUE.

March 3 – work w/ professor input on primary research findings

March 10 – No Class Spring Break

March 17 – work w/ professor input on recommendations: objectives, strategies, tactics (discussion)

March 24 – work w/ professor input on limitations (conclusion w/ limitations and recommendations)

March 31 – DUE DATE!: Project A: primary research findings, recommendations (objectives, strategies, tactics), limitations, bibliography, appendix, student bio DUE.

Project B: results, discussion, conclusion (includes limitations and recommendations), bibliography, appendix, student bio DUE.

April 7 – Defenses Pt 1.

April 14 – Defenses Pt. 2

April 16th- FINAL DUE DATE! (bring completed projects with 2 Binders and digital copy (disc, jump drive – no emailed versions). In my office by 6:30 pm.

April 21 - Assess Completed Professional Projects, Complete Paperwork for Graduation

April 28 – Finals Week/Submit Grades

Early May - Commencement

Department of Advertising & Public Relations

Important Contact Information

Dr. Maria Elena Villar

Interim Chair and Associate Professor

Department of Advertising and Public Relations

Office: AC2-SJMC - ask


Aileen Izquierdo 

GSC Program Director and Visiting Assistant Professor

Office: AC2-SJMC - ask

Phone: AC2-SJMC - ask


Ana Rodriguez-Gonzalez

Office of Student Services

School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Office: AC2-230

Phone: 305-919-5974


Project Types

Student projects may take one of two primary forms, either a campaign-type of project or a research-only project. Both project types usually involve research; however, in the campaign (Program A) research plays a support role for making professional recommendations. On the other hand, a research-only project (Program B) focuses on conducting primary research to address a mass communication, advertising or public relations objective. Note that these are general requirements and the ultimate purpose, design and content of the professional project is up to the student and the committee chair.
There are also some additional project formats you can choose from:

1). Communications or public relations audit – According to PRSA, a communications audit is a method of research that helps determine how a company’s audiences perceive the organization. It also helps define the relationship between a company’s objectives and the communications methods used to promote the objectives.

2). Case study – A case study is a form of qualitative descriptive research that is used to look at individuals or an organization.

3). Crisis communication plan – A clear, comprehensive communications plan created to assist an organization’s leadership and staff in a crisis situation.


Program A: Campaign/Creative/AdMasters

This is a professional report style project. The format is similar to the format typically employed in proprietary communication campaigns. The following outline represents major components of the project type. Ultimately, the format for Program A is between the student and the committee chair and may deviate from the following outline only with chair approval. Use a consistent style; APA or Associated Press style is acceptable.

Title Page (see sample)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Problem Statement

Situation Analysis (Secondary Research)

Problems and Opportunities (SWOT)

Primary Research


Recommendations (Objectives, Strategies and Tactics)




Student Bio

Final Defense Signature Page
Program B: Primary Research

This format follows traditional scholarly format as followed in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Use APA format only.

Title Page

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Chapter 3: Methodology

Chapter 4: Results

Chapter 5: Discussion

Chapter 6: Conclusion (including limitations and recommendations)


Student Bio

Final Defense Signature Page

(Proposal Template)


Panther ID

Project Type (A or B)


Please provide a succinct description of the topic. No more than four or five sentences.

Please provide some historical perspective or research that gives enough background to the reader on the issue/challenge/topic to be tackled with the project. No more than two paragraphs.

Include the specific communication challenge that is to be studied or solved. No more than three sentences.
Objective (s)

Refers to the campaign’s objectives (if doing Project A) as well as primary research objectives. What answers are you trying to find with this project? What do you aim to accomplish with the research? Include Research Questions (RQs) if you’re doing Project B.
Proposed Methods and Design

Refers to the specific method (s) that you will use to conduct your primary research e.g. in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys, etc. How will you distribute it, organize it? Information on sample should be included. Who will participate in the research? How will you get them to participate? There should be no mention of secondary research here. Be realistic and keep in mind if your work has to go through IRB approval.
Anticipated Analysis

What do you think the research will uncover? What are you expecting to gain from the research and the study?

Professional Project Proposal Review Guidelines

The proposal should:

  • Have no more than two pages; no cover page

  • Have name/info. on first page; proposal title and project type (A or B)

  • Get to the point.

  • Be factual and not opinionated.
  • Be stated in terms of something you want to solve or provide answers for.

The proposal should be outlined following template provided (each should be explained briefly and succinctly):

  • Introduction

  • Background

  • Problem

  • Objective

  • Proposed Methods & Design

  • Anticipated Analysis

Some common pitfalls to avoid:

Background section is the best place a to highlight some of the initial research you’ve done.


There always seems to be an issue defining a problem or problem statement.  You need to identify a COMMUNICATIONS problem or challenge that can be communicated in at most FOUR sentences.


For objectives, it's not just the campaign objectives but the research objectives as well.  Beware of using "to create awareness" as an objective.  That's like telling a doctor that he needs to diagnose an incoming patient.


Proposed methods and design needs to be thought through carefully -- what would really be REALISTIC given the timeframe.  ONE good method/design is better than THREE mediocre methods.


Please, please, please … do extensive editing so that it's legible, makes sense grammatically, and has no misspelling or typos.  No wordiness – see my first point of "get to the point."


And, creative work only really applies if you are re-defining the brand or corporate identity to some degree.


Structuring a Campaign Plan (Project A) – GSC Program
There is no “exact” way to organize and assemble your plan book. However, it is critical to make sure all of the information you gathered, the analysis you did, and the conclusions/recommendations you are making are presented in a logical manner.

Your campaign plan both tells a story and makes a case. You might know something, but if it isn’t down on paper or presented in a logical manner, it won’t make sense to the readers. In other words, you won’t make your case. Likewise, all assertions in your book MUST be attributed – if they are not, your book will read like the opinion page of The Miami Herald, instead of the factual analysis and decision-making tool it should be.

Of utmost importance is to give credit and attribution whenever you “borrow” ideas or material from others. Please remember that committing plagiarism will have serious implications. With that in mind, below are all of the sections and subsections a typical campaign plan includes. The major “sections” of the plan are in bold.

  1. Title Page (sample provided to you in orientation packet)

  2. Table of Contents

  3. Executive Summary - A short summary of the entire plan, describing the process undertaken to conduct the study and brief reference to select recommendations; usually the last item to be prepared, but the first item in the book.

Research Section

6.Problem Statement - Describes, as succinctly as possible, the problem facing the client and the issue to be tackled with this plan.

7.Situation Analysis - Contains data and information to illustrate the problem and the client overview of the current situation. Includes “benchmarks” relevant to the company or industry. Typically includes all items pertaining to secondary research:

      • Company analysis (history, mission, vision, values, organization, IMC resources)

      • Product, brand, and/or service analysis (history, description, growth, historical sales, volumes)

      • Analysis of existing markets/buyer behavior/current user evaluation (demographics, geodemographics, psychographics, seasonality)

      • Competitive analysis (competitive sales, competitive media, direct/indirect competitors)

      • Pricing analysis, if appropriate

      • Analysis of past IMC and overall communications efforts

      • Market and environmental analysis; market opportunity analysis if it’s a new product to be launched
      • Other information gathered in secondary research

      • Implications and guide or rationale for primary research

Primary Research:

      • Objectives (What did we want to find out? What are the research questions addressed with this research?)

      • Methodology and sample (How, where, when, and who did we consult to find it out?)

      • KEY research findings, observations, and results (which ever is appropriate)

      • Implications (THOROUGH analysis of all of the research leading the reader to the strategy section)

SWOT (summarizes internal strengths and weaknesses of the company, product or service, and external opportunities and threats facing the organization, the industry, and/or the environment.) NOTE: The findings and SWOT form the basis for justifying the recommendations to be presented in the next sections.

A note about the research: If you include key findings in chart or graph form, they must have narrative explanations before the graph or chart. All data, listing sources or borrowed ideas must be cited using APA style, in both the body of the plan and at the end of the plan. If it’s doesn’t come from your head, you need to credit someone else with the thought, idea, statement or research.

Strategy Section

8.Target Market Profile – Demographic, geodemographic, psychographic and behavioristics -- listed and described in DETAIL

9.IMC Goal - Listed and explained (these may already exist within the company). What is the desired outcome the company hopes to achieve?

10.IMC Objectives - Listed and explained and must directly relate to IMC goal (s). What must the communications campaign achieve with each target market to accomplish the program goal? What can IMC really do to achieve the overall goals?

11.IMC Strategies - What specifically must be delivered or achieved and using what means? Include narrative on what message content must be communicated in order to achieve the outcomes stated in the objectives including rationale for each strategy

      • “WIIFM” or unique sales proposition

      • Image and reputation messages

      • Creative brief must be presented and described (include message strategies such as product or service messages)

Integrated Marketing Communications Tactics Section

12.Advertising/Public Relations/Sales Promotion, Merchandising and Point of Sale/Direct Marketing/Event Marketing Recommendations - Include objectives, creative strategy, all advertising media to be used, all public relations tactics to be deployed, all sales promotion tactics to be carried out including but not limited to special events, exhibitions, and trade shows. Include one or more fully executed samples, as applicable, for each discipline used, including but not limited to, direct mail cards and collateral. For example:

Strategy #1

  • Advertising tactics

  • PR tactics

  • Sales promotion, merchandising and point-of-purchase tactics

  • Direct marketing tactics

  • Event marketing tactics

  • Other tactical recommendations – sponsorships, partnerships, personal selling, viral marketing, packaging, word-of-mouth, etc.

Implementation Section (if needed or appropriate – check with chair)

13.Budget - All projected campaign costs to be included here, including agency fees.

14.Implementation Schedule - Include a week-by-week or month-by-month schedule of ALL advertising, public relations and sales promotion strategies for the length of the campaign.
Evaluation Section

15.Evaluation --

      • Preparation, implementation, impact evaluations
      • Methods, pre/post testing, concept testing, costs.


16.Appendices, footnotes, research, survey questionnaire, summary of responses/data collection, and all other relevant supporting material

Student Bio
Structuring a Scholarly Research Paper (Project B) – GSC Program
A Master’s Project B combines both primary and secondary research. Primary research means you are conducting your own study, experiment, or investigation. The information you are gaining is original with you. Secondary research means you are studying the works of others. The information comes from published books, articles, and other sources. In Project B, your secondary research is your literature review, and your primary research is described in your methods and your results.
PartS of a Research Paper

  1. Title Page

  2. Abstract

  3. Introduction

  4. Literature Review

  5. Methods

  6. Results

  7. Discussion

  8. References

  9. Appendices (if applicable)

1. Title Page (APA Style)

Select an academic-style title that previews the content of the paper. Readers use such academic titles to select articles and to get a quick sense of what an article is about. Academic titles can state the research question, summarize the thesis or purpose, or be written as a two-part title with a colon. The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header should look like this-> Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER. Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced. Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research. Please look online for samples of APA style title pages.

  1. Abstract

This is a brief (75-120 words) comprehensive summary of the paper, which allows the reader to survey the contents of the paper quickly. The abstract should address the background, purpose of study (i.e. the research questions or hypotheses), methods used, results and conclusion. Model the abstract of your paper after the abstracts of the research articles you have read in peer reviewed journals.

  1. Introduction

All documents must be able to stand on their own by including an introduction to orient the reader. The purpose of the introduction is to establish a context (general background information), preview the content of the paper, and frame the significance of the research. You may tell why this problem has been a problem or why you think this particular slant or angle to the problem is important. You can also mention what benefits are to be gained from solving this problem or exploring this topic from your perspective. A well-written introduction provides a blueprint for the entire paper.

4. Literature Review

The purpose of a literature review is to sketch the background on the research problem (hypotheses or research questions) and give readers a context to show them the present research inquiry fits into the scholarly conversation currently ongoing in that subject area. A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period.

A literature review is not a simple summary of sources; rather, it has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. The lit review uses a general-to-specific movement in its organization, establishing the thesis and setting the context for the research. The literature review supports the study hypotheses or research questions (RQs), and ends with a clear statement of the hypotheses and/or RQs. The rest of the paper will be organized around these hypotheses or RQs.

Use subheadings to separate your literature into relevant themes. Possible themes are: discussion of general topics to frame the study (e.g. depictions of minorities in music videos, green advertising, etc.), discussion of specific variables (e.g. brand loyalty, consumer need for uniqueness, creativity, etc.), or discussion of theories guiding the research (e.g. social learning, diffusion of innovations, elaboration likelihood model, etc.). Remember that the focus of a literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others. There are no opinions in the literature review, only a synthesis of others’ work. The tone and style of your literature review should be modeled after the literature review sections of the peer-reviewed research articles you have read.
5. Methods

The methods section of your research paper describes in detail how the study was conducted. You must describe how you selected the sample for your study. You should include descriptions of any materials you used -- questionnaires, code sheets, or interview questions -- to generate data. This section also details the procedures involved in collecting and analyzing the data. This section is written in past tense, because when the final paper is written the study has been completed. Typical subheadings in a methods section include: Participants, Measures and Procedures:

  • Participants: Describes the number and demographics of the participants and describes how the sample was selected.

  • Measures: Explains tests or surveys used for assessment. Cites the source of each measure used and describes the measure completely.
  • Procedure: Gives details on the way the assessment was conducted. Be very clear and concise so that another researcher would know exactly what to do in order to replicate the study and obtain similar results. Clearly describe the steps involved in both data collection and data analysis.

6. Results

This section simply presents and reports your findings based on the data you have collected. How you present the results of your research depends on what kind of research you did, and whether your study tested hypotheses or responded to research questions. Quantitative information, data that can be measured, can be presented systematically and economically in tables, charts, and graphs. Qualitative information, which includes brief descriptions, explanations, or quotes, can also be presented in prose tables. This kind of descriptive or explanatory information, however, is often presented in paragraphs or even lists.

The results section should be organized by research question or hypothesis. You should include some commentary to explain to your reader what your findings are and how to read them, but do not include an evaluation or interpretation of the data (that belongs in the Discussion section).
There are specific conventions for creating tables, charts, and graphs. In general, you should use these only when you are sure they will help readers understand the findings – avoid tables and graphs that may confuse the reader. It is not necessary to repeat everything in the tables in an accompanying explanation. Rather, the accompanying text should explain to the reader what is contained in the tables, without repeating it. Always number your tables and figures, and refer to them by number in the text. The rule of thumb for presenting a table or graphic is to first introduce it, show it, and then explain it (without repeating all the information contained in the table or graphic).

7. Discussion

Your discussion section should comment on what you have learned from your research. It should be organized so that it relates directly to your research questions and hypothesis, and related back to your literature review. You want to avoid introducing new ideas here or discussing tangential issues not directly related to your study. This is the only part of the research paper where personal opinion or speculation beyond what is in the data is allowed. This is your opportunity to elaborate on the significance of your research, and comment on how it fits into the current scholarly conversation on your topic. The discussion section typically includes “Limitations” and “Recommendations.”

Under the “Recommendations” subheading, you may recommend a course of action, make a prediction, propose a solution to a problem, offer a judgment, or speculate on the implications and consequences of your ideas. The limitations section comments on any limitations of the study (and every study has them) that the reader should consider when assessing the validity of the findings. Do not end your paper with limitations. Wrap up the discussion section with a brief conclusion that recaps the most important findings and the contribution of the research.

8. References

This section lists references to all secondary research throughout the text. This list must be organized alphabetically by author and formatted in APA style. Citing your references in the text and documenting them appropriately in the reference is critical to maintain academic integrity. The references page will list only sources actually cited in the paper.

9. Appendices

The appendix is the place to put a copy of the research instrument, sample consent forms, recruitment fliers, etc.

[Title Page Template]


Student’s Name

Chair: Faculty Chair’s Name

Committee Member: Faculty Member’s Name
Committee Member: Outside/Faculty Member’s Name






[semester & year]

FIU School of Journalism & Mass Communication

MMC 6950

Mass Communication Professional Projects (3 Credits)

FIU – GSC – Student Agreement of Understanding

I understand all deadlines in this class are extremely firm. I also understand that if I do not hand in the various drafts of my professional project on the due dates I will NOT receive feedback from the instructor. All assignments must be in paper form, emailed assignments are not considered. Last, I understand that without feedback from the instructor I risk failing and not graduating on time and that anything below a B- is not a passing grade for the professional project.
___________________ ________

Signature Date

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