Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

COMM 303: Intercultural Communication

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  Course Description

Study of the role of communication in multicultural and intercultural contexts, including issues related to values, language and non-verbal behavior as they relate to effective multicultural and intercultural interaction.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Course meets Multicultural graduation requirement.

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final



  • Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., & McDaniel, E.R.. (2017). Communication Between Cultures (9th ). Boston: Wadsworth.  
    • [ISBN-978-1-285-44462-8]
  • Hamri, S. (Director), & Turner, K. (Writer). (2006). Something New.Focus Features.  
    • Note: MBS item number 917996. Video may also be available to rent via Amazon.com or iTunes.
  • Bluemke, J. (Director), & Spurlock, M. (Creator). (2006). 30 Days, the Complete Series. Actual Reality Pictures.  
    • Note: Video may also be available to rent via Amazon.com or iTunes.

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

The United States has long described itself as a melting pot. As we forge our way into the 21st century, we know now that the idea of a melting pot—where individual differences disappear—isn’t the reality of our existence. In an increasing global world, this course will help in the navigation of these intercultural communication waters.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office
  • A digital recording device such as a camcorder, camera, or phone

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify current trends in intercultural communication theory and practice.
  2. Describe how intercultural communication effects issues of cultural diversity and cultural values.
  3. Recognize obstacles to intercultural strategies and how to overcome them.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 630-700 90-100%
B 560-629 80-89%
C 490-559 70-79%
D 420-489 60-69%
F 0-419 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (20) 200 29%
Ethnographic Research Paper (1) 100 14%
Exams (2) 300 43%
Oral Presentation (1) 100 14%
Total 700 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Readings -- --
Introductions (Discussion) -- Saturday
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 2 10
Discussion 3 10

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 5 10
Discussion 6 10
Proctor Information N/A Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 8 10
Discussion 9 10

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 11 10
Discussion 12 10
Discussion 13 10
Midterm Exam 150 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 15 10
Discussion 16 10

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 17 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Ethnographic Research Paper 100 Saturday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 18 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 19 10

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 20 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Oral Presentation 100 Wednesday
Final Exam 150 Saturday
Total Points: 700

  Assignment Overview


This course is dependent upon the exchange of ideas and experience and peer critique. Therefore, your participation and positive citizenship in this course is fully expected. Each week will have multiple discussion topics/questions to answer. Each Discussion assignment is worth 10 points.

Discussion topics will become available Monday and all work must be completed by Saturday. An original response to each discussion prompt is due by 11:59 pm CT Wednesday. To or more additional responses to other student initial posts within each discussion topic are required by 11:59 pm CT Saturday. Each discussion will be graded on the initial response, support of argument, style, and use of MLA, and the quality of the interaction with classmates. No late Discussion posts will be accepted.

This course touches on some very sensitive issues. Please be respectful of your classmates and instructor. A grading rubric will be provided.

Ethnographic Research Paper

Using 30 Days as your inspiration, you will have the opportunity to participate in 24 hours of intercultural participation and write about your experiences, through a daylong ethnographic experiment. When I use the word “inspiration” I mean just that. You’re not obligated to recreate the “Binge-Drinking Mom” (S1, Ep. 6) episode, for example. But you may find yourself intrigued by the “Animal Rights” episode (S3, Ep. 3) and eat as a Vegan for a day. Coming from the Greek ethnos meaning “nations” and graphia meaning “writing”, ethnography is a course of study where one learns about other cultures, by observation and, often, participation. The goal of your ethnographic experience is to engage in embodied learning. As you’ve seen in 30 Days, the participants learn the most through their embodied, lived experiences with others from another culture.

Choose a 30 Days episode we’ve not previously used or will use in our class discussions, and use that episode as the basis for your ethnographic research. Participate in a culture that you do not identify with, for a 24-hour period. In an 8-10 page paper, describe your experience, relate it to the episode, and link it to our study of intercultural communication through a well-versed discussion of class concepts. You are required to use five (5) outside sources in this paper. This paper is due the Saturday of the sixth week. To engage ethnographically and write your paper, you will need to ensure that you allow yourself plenty of time to reflect and engage with the culture you’re exploring. The goal of this assignment is to have you ‘dive in’ to the material we’re studying, not ‘swim around’ it.

Please note: The goal of the assignment is for you to be a participant-observer in your research. To that end, your role is not to create disturbances or to stay in an environment where you feel unsafe.

The Columbia College Library has a bevy of electronic research databases that can help you in your research. Only documents saved as doc, .docx, or .pdf are acceptable. Other formats will not be graded. All writing you submit in this class will be your own and original to this class. If you use other sources than your own writing, you will clearly notate them and document them in parenthetical citation according to MLA style guidelines.

Your Ethnographic Research Paper will be due at 11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 6 and is worth 100 points.

Oral Presentation

You will record an 8-10 minute video speech of an informative exploration of a country of your choosing (excluding the United States of America). Presentations should follow a standard format and include all elements of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Your research and presentation should focus on the deep structural elements of culture in your chosen country, as described by the text (family, religion, state). Your research will require collection of appropriate sources that will help inform your presentation. In addition to the text a minimum of four (4) sources should be orally cited in the body of your speech.

As in any public presentation, you should be dressed appropriately and stand in front of your audience (me and your camera). You should be speaking from appropriate, hand-held notes, not a computer screen or poster boards in the background.

To complete this particular assignment, you will need to record your speech using some sort of recording device. You will also need a video player installed on your computer to view your recorded speech, and the ability to upload that speech to YouTube. Specific resources to aid in this project are available in the Content area of the course. Your Public Speech Presentation will be due at 11:59 pm CT Wednesday of Week 8. It is worth 100 points.


The Midterm and Final Exams (both proctored) will test knowledge gained from the assigned text and required supplemental resources in the course. They are worth 150 points each and will be comprised of 75 multiple-choice questions worth 2 points each. There will be a 2 hour time limit (with a 5 minute grace period) to take these exams.

The Midterm Exam will cover chapters 1-5 and the required supplemental resources. It will be available beginning 12:01 am CT Tuesday until 11:59 pm CT Sunday of Week 4.

The Final Exam will cover chapters 6-10 and the required supplemental resources. It will be available beginning 12:01 am CT Tuesday until 11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 8.

Because these exams are proctored, no books or notes are allowed while taking the exams. Additionally, the use of flash drives and outside websites is not allowed. Late Midterm and Final Exams will not be accepted.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Chapter 1

Review all Instructional Materials

Introductions (Discussion)
Introductions (ungraded)
Discussion 1
Your book outlines five major issues regarding our ability to fully cooperate with others inter-culturally. Which of the five do you think is the most crucial to address in the short-term?  Which of the five is the most critical to our long-term intercultural understanding?  How do the short- and long-term issues affect you personally?  Do you think you're more apt to be more cooperative in the short- or long-term?  Why is this so?
Discussion 2
Choose one of the stereotypes iterated in the episode of 20/20 that you have heard in your own life. Give the stereotype, and who said it to whom. Was your reaction the same when you watched it on 20/20 as it was when you actually experienced the comment? How do you think the use of humor allows the Broadway show “Avenue Q” to tackle the issues of stereotyping and prejudice? Is it effective? Is there a better way to handle such things, in your opinion?
Discussion 3
Choose one of the caveats for studying IC (individual uniqueness, generalizing, and objectivity) and explain how you’ve encountered it in a work-related experience. Were the parties involved aware of the lack of effective communication when it occurred? How might the incident have been improved with a better sense of IC?

Chapter 2

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Discussion 4
Choose one of the proverbs listed in this week’s reading on pages 45-47 and articulate how someone in the non-dominant culture may interpret that message. Is there a proverb, adage, or saying from today that you think speaks from a place of power, from the dominant culture in the United States? How are non-dominant citizens implicated by that saying?
Discussion 5
On page 39, the assigned reading offers several opinions about what the function(s) of culture is/are. Choose the function you least agree with and explain your choice and rationale. What are the faults or weaknesses of the function in your opinion? Do you have experiences in your own life that support viewing that function as less than ideal? Which function do you believe is the most relevant?
Discussion 6
The reading offers eight elements to a transactional model of communication. Using the photograph of two boys in Chapter 2, choose three elements from the communication model that you believe are most important to 'arriving' at the moment captured in the photograph. Which of the three elements seems the most important to that photograph and why? Is it possible to gauge verbal communication processes via a photograph?
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

Chapter 3

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Discussion 7
Chapter 3 draws distinctions between the functions of the family unit. Which of these functions is the most important to the maintenance of deep structure of culture? Why? Does your opinion create advantages for you? How does your position limit you? (For example, if I think 'reproduction' is the most important, I may be emboldened by the fact that I have 5 children. Or I may feel inferior if I've have no children.) Which one of these family functions, if any, needs more focus or cultivating in today's society?
Discussion 8
Put the word family into an Internet browser search engine and then select "images" to look at the photos, cartoons, etc. that pop up when we look up the word family. What do you notice about those 'families' that the Internet determines are families? Are there any disturbing trends? Any reassuring trends? Choose one photo that came up in your search and analyze it based on the elements and qualities your book uses to explain the family unit. (Be sure to include a link to the photo or upload it directly in your post.)
Discussion 9
Chapter 3 discusses intercultural views regarding the elderly. Choose one of the photos in the "Intercultural Images" section of the Content area. How does the image support or go against cultural constructions of the elderly? Are the images surprising to you or affirming to you? How might the images be altered to make them more interculturally 'traditional,' in your opinion?

Chapters 4 and 5

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Discussion 10
We often place the topic of History on a pedestal (hence why I capitalized it) in our culture. But as the reading discusses, history is a created, manipulated 'thing.' Which moment in history, before your birth, would you like to know more about? Which narratives are missing from that moment in history? Why might someone want to suppress those narratives?
Discussion 11
Why do you think that the term 'worldview' is important to our study of intercultural communication? Do we need this concept? Does it help advance or clarify our understanding of cultures? How does this concept affect the way we communicate with others? Is there another word/concept/idea that you think would be better than 'worldview'?
Discussion 12
Narrate your experience of watching the "Christian/Atheist" episode of 30 Days. Do you think all of the participants in the episode were communicating interculturally? Why or why not? Compare your perception of Brenda to the stereotypes of atheists that the episode presents. How does Brenda reinforce or go against those stereotypes?
Discussion 13
Choose one of the belief systems presented in this chapter that you do not personally follow and consider their stance/belief about death. Which is most appealing to you? Which differs the most from your current belief system? How does your current belief system 'work with' or 'work against' the belief system you choose to examine in this prompt?
Midterm Exam

Available beginning 12:01 am CT Tuesday until 11:59 pm CT Sunday of Week 4.

  • 75 multiple-choice questions worth 2 points each.
  • Will cover Chapters 1-5 and the required supplemental resources.
  • 2 hour time limit to take the exams, with a five minute grace period.

Chapters 6 and 7

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Discussion 14
Using Something New as your artifact, choose three course concepts in this week's reading that are explored in the film. How does the film navigate issues of identity and prejudice? Does the fight that Kenya and Brian have in the grocery store feel genuine to you? Why or why not? What lessons does the film provide towards our understanding of intercultural communication?
Discussion 15
How do you think the book's discussion of American culture pertains to Online education? Online education still receives much criticism and ridicule. Do you feel that is because of our cultural orientation toward certainty, or is it because of lack of ‘face time’? How do U.S. cultural perceptions and interpretations affect the status of Online education?
Discussion 16
Think about a recent conflict situation in which you participated (e.g., an argument with your significant other, your parents, or a stranger). What communication strategies did you use to give, maintain, or save face?

Chapters 8 and 9

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Discussion 17

Choose one of the following discussion topics this week to address:

  • When you think about the thousands of interactions you’ve had over your lifetime, which nonverbal elements have you found the most persuasive on/to you? Which nonverbal communication traits do you wish you were able to use more successfully in your life?
  • In reading Chapter 8’s description of language, how would you react the next time someone says, "It's just words. Words don't matter"? How can our understanding of language help us become better intercultural communicators?
Ethnographic Research Paper
Using the television series 30 Days as inspiration, students will engage in 24 hours of intercultural participation and write about their experience, through a daylong ethnographic experiment. Due at 11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 6.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Chapters 10-11

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Discussion 18
Beginning on page 16 of the assigned text, the authors of the text outline several ethical principles of communication. Which of these principles is the most important to our study of intercultural communication? Which one do you think is the 'magic bullet', meaning that if we could fully incorporate 'it', our struggles in intercultural interactions would fall away?
Discussion 19
Choose three issues discussed in the final chapter of the textbook that you would've like to have seen in more detail in the "Outsourcing" episode of 30 Days. How might better awareness of those issues have added clarity to the episode? Why is clarity regarding these particular issues so important?

No assigned readings this week.

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Discussion 20
Reflecting on your time in this class, which of the following pieces from NPR and news.com Australia, do you believe provides us with the best opportunity for intercultural communication learning? Which moment and/or situation resonates most powerfully for you? Why? What communication advice would you give to the author(s)? Overall, would you say that your opinions today are the same as they were when you started the class eight weeks ago?
Oral Presentation
8-10 video-recorded speech that offers and informative exploration of a country of student’s choice (excluding the United States of America). Presentations should follow a standard format and include all elements of an introduction, body, and conclusion. Due at 11:59 pm CT Wednesday of Week 8.
Final Exam

Available beginning 12:01 am CT Tuesday until 11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 8.

  • 75 multiple-choice questions worth 2 points each.
  • Will cover Chapters 6-10 and the required supplemental resources.
  • 2 hour time limit to take exam, with a five minute grace period.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. Late Midterm and Final Exams will not be accepted.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.