Instructor: Steve Duck, Daniel and Amy Starch Distinguished Research Chair

Office: 151 BCSB  Phone: 335-0579 steve-duck@uiowa.edu  Personal website: http://myweb.uiowa.edu/blastd

Office hours Tuesday 11.30-2.20.  You can sign up outside my office, take pot luck, or make special arrangements.  If you write to me on email, then your subject line must indicate the course you are taking [36:070] and your section [SCA, SCB….] or else the message will be deleted and you will receive an automated note telling you to re-send it with the right information in the subject line. [I am teaching four courses this semester and do not immediately recognize every name out of 350].  I’m old. Cut me some slack.

TAs: Meng Li meng-li@uiowa.edu; Ho Jin Song hojin-song@uiowa.edu. TAs keep/ post their own Office Hours. 

Department Office is 105-BCSB; DEO John Peters, 105C-BCSB Phone 353-2258 john-peters@uiowa.edu


Lectures are Tu/Th 5.30-6.20 LR1-VAN.  The discussion sections meet at different times and places on different days; check ISIS for your Section’s meeting time and place. For each semester hour credit in this course, students should expect to spend two hours per week preparing for class sessions (This is a three-credit-hour course, and so standard out-of-class preparation per week is six hours).  The Instructor and the TAs cannot sign Drop or Add slips for this course and cannot move you from one section to another.  These actions must be done through the Academic Advisor (Monica Griffin Madura 111 BCSB).


36:070 provides a general overview of everyday life communication and the theories and research techniques used to understand it. The course seeks to accomplish four objectives:

1. Guide students to become aware of the sheer depth and complexity of processes in the communication that occurs in their everyday lives (it’s not all just common sense);

2. Teach students the ways in which scholars explain everyday communication and how it works, by introducing students to applications of theoretical thinking to explain processes of everyday communication;

3. Provide students with a broad understanding of diverse theoretical perspectives and a range of types of communication theories;

4. Provide students with opportunities for development of oral and written language communication skills and critical thinking.  The assignments and requirements for performance in the discussion sections will reflect this objective. You will keep a weekly TAP (Talk Analysis Paper -- see below) and bring it to your discussion section meeting each week.

READINGS  The textbooks for this course are: 1) Julia T. Wood and Steve Duck: Composing Relationships: Communication in Everyday Life (Thomson Wadsworth 2006) ISBN  0534517196 List price $42.95; available on Amazon for $2.64 upwards {used} and 2) Steve Duck & David T. McMahan  (2009) . Basics of Communication. SAGE: Thousand Oaks.  ISBN 978-1-4129-4153-2 List price $72.95 available on Amazon for $43.88 upwards.  Note that there is a website associated with this book http://www.sagepub.com/bocstudy/ and it contains flash cards, self quizzes and resources for each chapter.  Ignore the stuff about speeches. We won’t use that.  There is also a Facebook page for the book so that you can link up with other students using the book at Iowa or elsewhere.  Comments and discussion points will appear here. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Basics-of-Communication-A-SAGE-Textbook/25419412306

The lectures and discussion sections are the primary means of instruction.  The readings will supplement the lecture material and provide ideas for discussion.  In many cases the readings give fuller examples and more detailed description of lecture material or else they work through examples at a slower pace that will help you to understand the lectures better, especially if your note-taking lets you down in the lecture.  The reading each week is part of your 6 hours of required preparation for the course.  Exams will be based on the readings and on comments made in lectures.  The average grade on this course is likely to be C.



Week One

Tuesday August 25th                What is ‘Everyday Communication’ and what does it do for us? 

Thursday August 27th              Some ways of looking at Everyday Communication and its elements: Signs, symbols and types of communication



Week’s reading: Chapter 1 from Duck & McMahan also Chapters in Wood & Duck [W&D]: Wood & Duck Intro (pp 1-13); Duck (pp 15-23): Wood (pp 24-35).


Week Two

Tuesday September 1st                        Making sense of reality: 1) Conversation and performance

Thursday September 3rd          Making sense of reality: 2) Narratives and other people

Week’s Reading: Chapter 2 from Duck & McMahan ; also From W&D: Metts (pp 76-85); Braithwaite (pp 86-95);

WEEK TWO: PRACTICE TAP DUE IN AT DISCUSSION SECTION and through Turnitin, so you get the hang of it. Make sure you have an account, know how to use it and can submit TAPS to it. You will not get credit for TAPS that are not put through Turnitin on time even if you hand in a hard copy.


Week Three

Tuesday September 8th           Nonverbal Communication and Expectancy Violation Theory

Thursday September 10th        Symbolic Interactionism

Week’s reading: Duck & McMahan Chapter 3;



Week Four

Tuesday September 15th         Gendered Selves

Thursday September 17th        Moral accountability in listening to stories and performance of self

Week’s reading: Duck & McMahan Chapter 4;Suter (pp 119-127) Allen (146-154) from W&D: 



Week Five

Tuesday September 22nd          Social Exchange Theory

Thursday September 24th         Social Penetration and Self Disclosure 

Week’s reading: : Duck & McMahan Chapter 5; and Dainton (pp 36-45) from Wood & Duck



Week Six

Tuesday September 29th          Rules, Rituals and stories

Thursday October 1st               Family communication

Week’s reading:  Muehlhoff (pp 46-54); Nicholson (pp 55-64); Bruess (pp 65-75)



Week Seven

Tuesday October 6th                Development of relationships

Thursday October 8th               Relational disengagement models

Week’s reading: Duck & McMahan Chapter 6



Week Eight

Tuesday October 13th                          GENERAL OVERVIEW REVIEW FOR EXAM I

Thursday October 15th             EXAM I 

Discussion sections will NOT meet in Week Eight


Week Nine

Tuesday October 20th              Social support and social comparison

Thursday October 22nd            Group decision making

Week’s reading: Duck & McMahan Chapter 7 and Foley (pp 128-136) from W&D;



Week Ten

Tuesday October 27th                          Work I: Learning and talking about Work

Thursday October 29th                         Work II Organizational Culture and Workplace Dynamics

Week’s reading: Cockburn & Zorn (pp 137-145); Mumby (pp 166-174); Totten (pp 186-193);



Week Eleven

Tuesday November 3rd                        Dialectical theories and Uncertainty 

Thursday November 5th           Systems and cultures as relationships

Week’s reading: Duck & McMahan Chapter 8



Week Twelve

Tuesday November 10th          GENERAL OVERVIEW LECTURE

Thursday November 12th         EXAM II

Discussion sections will NOT meet in Week Twelve


Week Thirteen

Tuesday November 17th          Semiotics and Media Literacy

Thursday November 19th         Technology in Everyday Life

Week’s reading Duck & McMahan Chapter 9 and Carl (pp 96-109) from W&D;



Week Fifteen

Tuesday December 1st                         Relationships and Media

Thursday December 3rd                       Managing Long Distance Relationships

Week’s reading: Duck & McMahan Chapter 10 and Sahlstein (pp110-118)  from W&D;




Week Sixteen

Tuesday December 8th                         Theories about Love Styles

Thursday December 10th         GENERAL OVERVIEW AND SUMMATION

Discussion sections will NOT meet in Week Sixteen



This time was picked not by me but by the Registrar and it is when you HAVE to attend the exam.  I cannot make exceptions.  Travel out of town and so forth are not acceptable reasons to take the exam at another time. The ONLY acceptable reason is a clash with another scheduled exam and the university has a rule about which one you must rearrange: Conflict Adjustments: During Spring  semester, courses having higher department numbers, or higher course numbers when the conflict is within a department, will take precedence. So, just to be double-double clear: you CANNOT take this exam at a time other than the advertised one, unless the time clashes with another exam that you must take and course number of the other exam is in a Dept with a higher number than 036 (Communication Studies).  No other rule will be followed, whether you, your parents, the Mayor, or the Emperor of the Galaxy argues your case.



Final grades will be based on the total number of points accumulated by students upon completion of the following:

Exam I [10/15]                                                                30 pts.
Exam II [11/12]                                                               30 pts.
Exam III [Final: 12/14 MONDAY, 4.30PM]                 40 pts.
First TAP set (due week beginning 10/6)                       40 pts

Second TAP set (due week beginning 12/1)                   40 pts
Discussion Section participation (awarded strictly

for quality of participation during the semester)**        20 pts

Possible maximum                                                          200 pts

**NOTE ON DISCUSSION SECTION PARTICIPATION POINTS: You do not get points automatically for just showing up at the discussion section.  Attendance at these section meetings is required and so you do not get credit just for being there.  When you show up, though, you will get awarded points IF AND ONLY IF you participate and do so in a useful, constructive and informed manner.  You will not get you any points if you just show up and do not participate.   



Final grades will be based on the following fixed scale:

A+ (97% + ) = 194 and above
A  (94 96% ) = 188 -193
A- (90-93% ) = 180-187

B+ (87-89%) = 174-179
B  (84-86%) = 168 -173
B- (80-83%) = 160-167

C+ (77-79% ) = 154-159
C  (74-76% ) = 148-153 LIKELY AVERAGE GRADE
C- (70-73% ) = 140-147

D+ (67-69% ) = 134-139
D  (64-66% ) = 128-133
D- (60-63% ) = 120-127

F (< 59%) = 119 and below

The average grade on this course will probably be a C


There will be two non-comprehensive non-cumulative examinations and one Comprehensive Cumulative Final Exam.  Examination I covers material through Thurs Oct 8th; Examination II covers material from Tues Oct 20th  through Thurs November 5th; and Examination III [Final] is cumulative and covers the whole course. Each examination will consist of multiple choice questions and will be machine scored.

Students will be permitted to make up examinations missed because of illness, mandatory religious obligations, certain University activities, or unavoidable circumstances, but the only manner in which you will be permitted to do this is by ADVANCE NOTICE for university activities or religious observances, as indicated above, or by medical notice or other acceptable documentation for “unavoidable circumstances” after the event.  Otherwise you will receive a failing grade for exams that are missed and you will not be allowed to make up the absenceNote again that this is not negotiable and if you sign up for this course then you accept that fact.  Note also that over my extended teaching career I have become very familiar with the Twelve Known Forms of Ineffective Excuses written in the Sacred Books since teaching first began in Babylon.  Don’t try it.

You are responsible for knowing this policy and observing it.  I do not make ANY exceptions to this policy. If you fail to make advance arrangements when you could and should have made them, then that is entirely your responsibility and you take the consequences.  Life is tough.


Attendance policy

Lectures and discussion sections

You pay to attend the lectures and the discussion section to which you are assigned and it is expected that you do not want to waste your money and so that you will attend.  You will not get bonus or credit points just simply for showing up.  Obviously, poor attendance is likely to affect the quality of your work and your performance in the course negatively. We do recognize, however, that people have things go unexpectedly wrong in life and most students are honest, so do tell us if there is a problem that we could help you to manage.  Letting us know in advance whenever possible (and we know it isn’t always possible) is the key way in which you can avoid undesirable academic consequences.  You should also make a note of the number of Student Health Services (4189 Westlawn, 335-8392) in case you need other help and advice. 

You can be excused attendance for certain University activities or mandatory religious observances IF AND ONLY IF YOU MAKE ADVANCE ARRANGEMENTS with me or with your TA.  Authorized activities include participation in athletic teams, the marching band and pep band, debate teams, and other recognized University groups, as well as participation in University field trips, service with the National Guard, and jury duty. When participating in the excusable activities listed above, you are expected to present to each instructor before each absence a statement signed by a responsible official that specifies the dates and times when you must miss class.  When you are excused attendance then you will be informed about the way in which your absence can  be made up by extra work.  If you do not obtain permission beforehand then you will not be permitted to make up the absence.


TAPs (Talk Analysis Papers).  You will keep typed TAP entries in two sets (one set due covering the work up to and including Week 7; the second set covering work up to and including Week 15) and submit one each week it is due via Turnitin.com and also in hard copy to your Discussion Leader on the dates noted on the syllabus schedule.  As a member of the class you will automatically be given a Turnitin.com account and can find out how to use it from the Turntin.com homepage.  Please note that when you submit something to Turnitin.com you have to press two keys to finalize submission and you will receive an electronic receipt.  If you do not get one, you have not submitted the paper correctly and need to try again.  FYI Turnitin.com has a full list of all the TAPs that have ever been submitted for this course since 2006 and if you copy anyone else’s work we will know and you will get a zero for the relevant packet (TAPs series1, TAPs series 2, or the Essay assignment).  This zero is the minimum penalty you will be given and the College allows me to give you a forced F on the course. Repeat offenders will always receive this punishment, an unremovable forced F for the course as a whole; you will also be placed on academic probation.  So be warned and be sensible.

All your written work MUST be submitted in two ways: 1) electronically through turnitin.com and 2) in hard copy to your TA.  Work NOT submitted through Turnitin.com will not be graded even if you hand in the hard copy, and you will lose points proportionately. The system will shut you out 30 minutes before the start of your section, so do not leave your work to the last minute and do not submit it to Turnitin.com at the crack of 30 minutes to go.  Their clock may not register the same time as yours and their clock is the one that counts for us.  Allow for system fumbles or errors and plan ahead.  The work MAY NOT be submitted to me or to a TA by email.  It must be submitted through Turnitin.com by you. You can submit it early!!

It is your responsibility to do this and if you do not hand them in properly then we will not grade them.  For the discussion sections in Week 2, you will grade one another’s TAP during class so that you all get practice at how to do these.  This practice TAP will not count towards your course grade, but should be submitted through Turnitin.com to give you practice and experience of the issues you might face with Turnitin.com.  Starting in Week 3, turn your electronic copy of the paper in to Turnitin.com and also hand in your hard copy TAP to your Discussion Section leader at each class (2 pages max per week) at your discussion sections each week. You might be asked to read from the TAP entries at any discussion class and failure to produce the duly completed TAP pages at such times will lose you your participation point for that week.  You will hand in the new weekly pages for the TAP each week in order to get point credit for those pages. In Week 7 (TAP Set One), and in Week 15 (TAP Set Two), you will hand in all the previous four of your original TAPs with your TA’s comments on them in addition to the new TAP 5 which you will also submit through turnitin.com.  You must hand in all the originals so take care of them when you get them returned to you each week.  Staple them in order.  This stapled set of TAPs is what will be graded, so you must hand it in as above and your total points on each of the two TAP sets will not be assessed nor reported until Week 8 (TAP Set One) and Week 16 (TAP Set Two) though you will receive verbal feedback on the particular TAP pages as we go along.  That way we can give you educational credit for any improvements that take place in your work during the completion of each TAP.

Exemplars for the TAPs are given at the end of this syllabus.  You should briefly report and then discuss instances of communication that you have identified from your own experiences and which fit and illustrate the topic of the week.  These should also include your thoughts about the conversation and your analysis based on what we have covered in the course.  You will get points for careful and thoughtful observation of your everyday experience, including relevant selection of material that illustrates the issues discussed in lectures and in the readings.  For example, if you hear someone telling a story that fits the narrative form and if you correctly identify the type of communication, you will get points; if you report a conversation where someone did facework and if you correctly identify the elements that managed the person’s face, then you will get points; if you report a conversation that distinguished between back region and front region of performance, and if you are able to provide a frame for the discussion, then you will get points.  These are just examples and the important point is that you demonstrate that you are able to listen carefully to everyday communication and to identify theoretically relevant elements of it.  If you are able to make intelligent and informed comments about the theories that illuminate the talk then you will score more points than if you simply report the talk.  The important thing is that you demonstrate in the TAP that you fully understand how to observe and interpret everyday communication and show how theory helps us understand everyday communication.

The 40 points for each TAP set will be allocated as follows:

1.       Selection and description of appropriate communication:                                                         10 pts.

2.       Identification of concept/analysis[first TAP set]/application of theory (second TAP set) :                 25 pts.

3.       Organization, grammar, spelling:                                                                                                     05 pts.

Discussion sections have been scheduled for this course and you should have been assigned to one. If you do not have a discussion section then you should see our Academic Advisor (Monica Griffin Madura 111-BCSB)  immediately and get one assigned. These sections are crucial because we will use them to explore, in greater detail, ideas and issues that I introduce in my lectures. Attendance at discussion sections is required so it is only your quality of participation in them that will be evaluated. Your points for the discussion section will be based only on your informed participation and not merely on your presence in class.  If you are absent of course then you do not qualify to have your participation evaluated and so you will receive zero credit for that week unless excused in advance as noted above.

The primary goal for the discussion sections is to explore and apply ideas from reading and lectures and to use your TAPs in order to make that work better. Your TAP (Talk Analysis Paper) should report examples of concepts used in the course and examine their application in your everyday lives.  You should be noting examples of communication that a) fit each week’s particular topic; b) are drawn from your own experience.  In each case you should add your own informed thoughts about them, drawing upon what you have learned from the class at that point.   Your examples should be taken from your own experience and observation of everyday life.  You might use examples of talk, examples from the TV or from print media, or from films as long as these are dealing with the topic discussed in the lectures and readings.  The examples must be from your own observation and IN YOUR TAP YOU SHOULD NOT SIMPLY DISCUSS THE EXAMPLES FROM THE READING OR FROM THE LECTURES.  Of course you might discuss the lecture and reading examples in the discussion section meeting itself, but the TAP must be your own work, based on your own thinking and observation of everyday life communication.


1. In any discussion section, your active participation is essential. Quality participation involves more than just contributing to class discussion. It includes listening to/with others, participating in class activities, applying course concepts outside of class, asking appropriate and helpful questions and integrating the reading into class discussions.


2. In order to explore the multitude of different viewpoints, we must all be willing to create a supportive environment. To make everyone feel comfortable during class discussions, we must all work to consider new ways of thinking about issues and consider the ideas of everyone in the class respectfully even if we disagree with them.  It is especially good if we can find ways to build on, add to, or improve upon one another’s ideas.


3. Successful class discussions are founded on preparation. It is your responsibility to read assignments before class time, to complete your TAP each week one is due and submit it through turnitin.com as well as in hard copy to your discussion leader, and to arrive prepared to discuss the reading, the lecture material and your TAP. You will be required to demonstrate familiarity with the reading material during class activities.  Don’t forget that the possible maximum 15 points of credit are for participation and not just for attendance. Note that habitual leaving early and/or tardiness will most likely be counted as non-attendance and you will then not even be eligible to earn any participation points. Finally, it is your responsibility to make sure you have been counted as attending should you arrive late.


You will be eligible for points for exams, TAP work and discussion sections ONLY WHEN YOU ATTEND and for the papers ONLY IF YOU SUBMIT THEM THROUGH TURNITIN.COM AND AS HARD COPY TO YOUR DISCUSSION LEADER WHEN OR BEFORE IT IS DUE (being “eligible for points” does not mean you get them just because you show up; it means you might get points if you participate well and that you certainly will not get any points if you do not show up).  If you are not present or excused, or if you do not submit the paper in time then you will get no creditThis is not negotiable.  The only exceptions are indicated below (certain University activities, mandatory religious observance, excused absences).  Again, note that there are NO OTHER EXCEPTIONS to this rule.  If you are absent otherwise, you will always lose the chance to gain points, no argument. I repeat: This is not negotiable.


The following policies are required by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be included here

Administrative Home
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home of this course and governs matters such as the add/drop deadlines, the second-grade-only option, and other related issues. Different colleges may have different policies. Questions may be addressed to 120 Schaeffer Hall or see the Academic Handbook.

Academic Fraud
Plagiarism and any other activities when students present work that is not their own are academic fraud. Academic fraud is reported to the departmental DEO and to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum who enforces the appropriate consequences. www.clas.uiowa.edu/students/academic_handbook/ix.shtm

Making a Suggestion or a Complaint
Students with a suggestion or complaint should first visit the instructor, then the course supervisor and the departmental DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident. www.clas.uiowa.edu/students/academic_handbook/ix.shtml#5

Accommodations for Disabilities
A student seeking academic accommodations must first register with Student Disability Services and then meet privately with the course instructor to make particular arrangements. For more information, visit this site:

Understanding Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Visit
www.sexualharassment.uiowa.edu for definitions, assistance, and the full University policy.

Reacting Safely to Severe Weather
In severe weather, the class members should seek shelter in the innermost part of the building, if possible at the lowest level, staying clear of windows and free-standing expanses. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. (Operations Manual 16.14. i.)

You must turn off your cell phones, pagers and wireless devices during exams and remove i-Pods etc.  Anyone who is found using any of these devices or whose cell-phone is found to be on during an exam will score an automatic zero for that examThis zero cannot be made upThis is a strictly unalterable policy; you must be aware of it and must follow it.  There is no appeal if you are found with your cell phone on in an exam. The zero is automatic.

It is possible that some Graduate Students from Communication Studies might  wish to invite members of this class to volunteer to be participants in studies.  If that event arises I will announce arrangements for extra credit and the alternative means of obtaining extra credit for those who do not wish to take part or are ineligible.

Format for the TAP [Talk Analysis Paper]

Type your paper in Times New Roman 12 point font with margins no greater than an inch

Put the following information in the top right-hand corner every time:

Student name


Communication in everyday life

36:70 code and section number

In the center of the page identify which TAP it is and underline it:

Talk Analysis Paper 1.3



Use the following subheadings:

The context

The conversation

The analysis


Write the context as follows

Report in single spacing, giving the names of the participants, indicating where the conversation took place and indicating, if relevant, anything that happened just immediately before the conversation or any context which helps the reader understand what is happening.

For example: JP and I were having a conversation in the locker room at North Dodge Athletic Club about whether or not she should split up with her boyfriend.


Write the conversation as follows:

Report it in single spacing; Give the names or initials of the person as they speak followed by a colon, for example, Jane Doe: KP: “Mighty Man”:

Write what the speaker says following the colon: for example, KP: I was, like, oh my God!

Start a new line when a new speaker begins; you do not need to use inverted commas.


Write the analysis as follows:

Use double spacing; Type in bold any terms or concepts or theories that are drawn from the books or from the lectures, but you get the points for knowing what they mean, not for just putting them in bold. For example, KP’s comment is performing face management (presenting a “self” that is appropriate to the situation and to the other people present).


Cite the source of your term, concept or theory. If it is from one of the books, then give the name of the author and the page where it occurs, like this: face management (Metts, 41).  If it is from the fourth lecture, then cite it like this: face management (Duck, L-4), or if from the third discussion section meeting, like this: face management (Sydney SCD-3); face management (Su SCF-3).


Remember: the goal of the paper is to show that you can use communication theory to make sense of everyday talk.  Tie your observations in with the terms, concepts and theories drawn from this class and from the reading for each particular week.  Use the readings to illustrate what you observe and show how you are becoming more able to understand everyday communication, as the course progresses.  Do not continue to use only the same examples or the same theories for different papers, though you can refer back to earlier concepts if they are helpful in explaining the conversation.


When we annotate your papers, we will use the table below to offer feedback.


Main criteria




Needs work (e.g.)

Selection of conversation





Overall quality of analysis





Range of sources used





Number and novelty of applied concepts





Correct identification of concepts





Smooth and logical connections between ideas





Grammar and spelling and overall readability





Correct format [Font, spacing, length, references for concept/theories, etc.]





Evidence of insight and learning from the exercise





Overall, evidence of improvement across time






C/B grade level Example for the first TAP [Talk Analysis Paper] 

Annabelle Lecter

24 September  2008

Communication in everyday life

36:70 SCF

Talk Analysis Paper 1.3


The context

Two friends had just met up at the end of classes as they happen to come out of different rooms in Seashore.


The conversation

KT: Hey, what’s up, hon?

AL: Not much, just got out of a boring class and I'm going to get some lunch. You?

KT: My class was okay, and I've still got one more.  Why didn't you call me last night?

AL: Well, I thought when we spoke last time you said we would just meet today for some fun stuff.  I didn't think I needed to call you back then.

KT: OK that’s fine.  When your next class is over do you want to come to the mall and pamper ourselves with pedicures and manicures for tonight?

AL: Sounds like a plan!  Let’s go to the OCM to get them done.

KT: Sounds good to me but we need to make an appointment because they get pretty busy.

AL: That's okay, I already read your mind and called to make it for 2.30 after your class.

KT: Ha ha! Cool!  I am really excited to have the chance to sit and catch up with you.  I want to know about all the stuff you did when your friend was here last week, and I'll bring you up to date with my trip to Illinois.  It was so awesome! 

AL: Sounds good.

KT: Cool! I gotta run to the next class.  See you there at 2.30.


The analysis

During this conversation that I had with my friend Kelly, we ended up discussing many topics from these sections and this class.  First off, Kelly asked me why I did not call her back last night.  I explained to her that I did not think it was necessary to do so.  This part of the conversation is referred to as metacommunication (Duck, L-1). This is communication about communication (but in this case we are talking about the fact that we did not talk).  Next, Kelly brings up the idea to go to the mall and do the typical things girls like to do.  This is known as gendered identities (Duck, 17).  Doing girl things like manicures and pedicures are activities that women are supposed to take part in together.  This roots from being a female, at least in this particular culture (Su, SCF-1).  Also, she asked me to go to the Mall but called it the OCM.  This is considered hypertext (Duck, 22).  To me, I understood what OCM stood for (Old Capitol Mall), but someone that had never heard of that before would not know what the abbreviation means.  Use of hypertext indicates that we know one another quite well (Sydney, SCH-2).  Another term that came up in our conversation was when I told her that I made an appointment when she got out of classes.  This is called coordinating interaction (Wood, 32).  I took the time to synchronize our actions at the same time and suggesting that it would work out perfect!  Then she mentioned how excited she is to catch up with what's going on in both our lives.  This is referred to as the relational level of meaning (Wood, 20).  This is showing how we are concerned that our friendship support each other at the same time about our experiences that are being shared.  Next, with me responding to that idea so confidently this showed one of the routine kinds of communication that provide relational maintenance (Wood, 21), known as positioning (Wood 21).  My behavior was very cheerful and excited.  Lastly, when going to get our services done, I relied on Kelly to associate with.  This is also another routine operational maintenance called social networks (Wood, 21).  This explains how we relied on each other being good friends to share our news with one another.

Evaluator comments:  This example follows the instructions on the layout and presentation on the TAP, and chooses a good example of talk, which it reports in good detail.  The analysis uses several of the concepts from the book and also a couple that had been provided in lecture or discussion section.  The point about the way gendered activity is carried on in our particular culture is evidently an extra point made in the discussion section.  The writer would get points taken off for using the word positioning instead of positivity, which is an example of relational maintenance, and the example of friends, sharing news with one another is not a particularly good example of social networking, which is more to do with sharing and mixing with lots of other people. 

This TAP would probably end up getting a C+/B-, because it does not go into any particular depth about the way the concepts work, but it does do a good job of identifying them directly from the conversation.  In short, it shows that the person can identify the concepts, but not that the writer is able to go further and show deep understanding of how the concepts work.


A-Grade level Example for the first TAP [Talk Analysis Paper] 

Carl Uppandye

29 October 2008

Communication in everyday life

36:70 SCD

Talk Analysis Paper 1.2


The context

I was at North Dodge Athletic Center changing room and a young guy [YG] walked in and an older person [OG] there, looked somewhat surprised but obviously knew the younger one.


The talk:

OG: Hey …  John, how’s it going?  I thought you’d left the university. 

YG: Oh hi, professor.  I’m doing well, thanks.  No still here one more semester, as you see. How are you?

OG: I’m doing well too.  Are you doing the Graduate Thing now then?

YG: No still the Undergrad Thing but it won’t be long now.  I’m not really ready for semester to start though.

OG: Yeah, tell me about it.  This is my last hard work out before things get really tough, ha! [Leaving the changing room] See ya around, then.


The analysis: This appeared to be two people meeting in a back region [Goffman, 22] away from the social space where they normally meet (which I assume to be the academic world).  The two people spoke in a way that conveyed not only a content message but also a relational one [Duck L-2] and although they appear to know one another personally there is clearly a power difference [Duck, L-7] that is recognized in the address/speech style [Su, SCD-1] (“John” versus “Professor”) and also in the way that the younger guy adopts the professor’s speech referents and terms (“Graduate Thing – Undergraduate Thing”).  The content of the talk is not deep and the two do not seem to know one another well enough to be seen as true friends.  The talk punctuates the time [Wood, 21] between the professor getting ready for his work-out and actually leaving, and is not done in order to deepen the relationship or make a request, for example, but merely to pass the time until the professor is ready to leave.  Once again the power differences [Duck, L-7] are evident in the fact that the professor terminates the conversation without allowing any long conversation ending rituals [Sydney, SCC-5] or leave taking sequences [Duck, L9].  The speakers also negotiate identities [Metts, 43] as “student” and “Professor” not only in their address styles but also in terms of the topics of conversation, who raises them, the Question-Answer sequence, and the focusing of the talk on the topic of the younger person’s academic status.

Evaluator comments:  This example follows the instructions on layout and presentation of the TAP, and chooses a good example of talk, which it reports in good detail.  The analysis uses several of the concepts from the book and also a couple provided in lecture or discussion section.  The talk is reported in detail with attention to surrounding social dynamics, tone and nonverbal behaviors.  The analysis brings in several course concepts that are specifically applied to the reported conversation -- and correctly done too -- from a range of different places and parts of the course.

This TAP would be graded in the A range because all the concepts are correctly applied, all of them are good examples of the terms being used, and the writer is able to put the whole thing together even though the talk was really very simple.  The writer shows a clear ability to understand how the dynamics of communication in everyday life can be understood from even very small examples and instances of interaction.






Example of a Fail TAP


Joe Moron   TAP 9


Context: A bar in town where I met my friend

Talk: J: Hi, BG. How’s it goin’?

BG: Hi Joe.  Great I finally hooked up with Joni so I’m feeling good enough to buy you a beer.

J: OK by me.  How ‘bout them Hawks?


Analysis: The talk was in the back region (Goofmer) because we were at the back of the bar and we did metacommunication because BG told me about Joni.  We also did gender talk because he told me about Joni and I talked about sports, which is a guy thing.


Reason for Fail: This is a poorly chosen piece of talk that does not give us much to work with.  The full information required for each TAP (Name, course section etc) is not provided and the TAP numbering is wrong, so two points get lost right there.  The concept of back region is wrongly understood, the reference is not cited properly and is wrong anyway.  Metacommunication is misunderstood.  It is just possible to argue that there is gender talk here but the analysis should be much more thorough.  Basically this is worthless.