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Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication
COM 212-04 – Interpersonal Communication – Spring 2008
Instructor: Irwin Mallin

Response Paper 2
Critique of Theory
Due at the start of class on Thursday, April 3

We have been discussing numerous different communication principles and theories in this class. Since you've all been communicating for some time now, you should be drawing upon your experience to develop opinions about the theories we discuss.  Some theories may strike you as particularly useful in understanding your own and other people's communication behavior (as when our class discussion or your reading of a theory leads you to think, "Ooh, that explains it!").  Other theories may strike you as not so useful (as when you think, "Gosh, that's stupid!"), while others may strike you as incomplete (as when you think, "Yeah, but what about the times when....?")

This paper is your chance to explore those reactions in depth.  Choose any theory from our readings or class discussion from the start of the semester to Exam 2 and write a paper in which you evaluate the theory. The paper should begin with a paragraph or two in which you explain the theory and its uses in your own words. There should also be a thesis statement early in the paper in which you "make the call" on the usefulness of this theory.  In one sentence, this statement will tell your readers whether the theory is always, sometimes or never useful and why. Then draw upon your personal experiences to demonstrate the strengths and/or shortcomings of the theory as well as how the theory may be used to guide your practice in everyday conversation.

Your goal here is to make an argument, illustrate it with examples from interactions you have participated in or observed, and explain how those illustrations support your argument. That is, you are progressing from your initial reaction to the theory to a developed argument.  That is, you are moving from saying  "Gosh, that's stupid" to "This theory is deficient because....," from “Ooh, that explains it” to “This theory is useful because....,” or from “But what about the times when...” to “This theory’s utility is limited by....”  The examples you use should be interactions you have participated in or observed in your own life, and not interactions you have observed or read about in a movie, TV show, or book.

As with Response Paper 1, generalizations will not lead to good papers. Support any assertion you make with a specific example from your interaction. When I read the paper, I should be able to "see" the communication interaction to which you're referring, and these examples should serve to back up your evaluation of the theory you choose.

The best papers will have reasonably detailed analysis, display creativity, insight, and  be logically organized.  They will also demonstrate your understanding of and ability to apply the theory you choose. Of course, they’ll also be grammatically correct and free of spelling and punctuation errors.  Include an introduction in which you set up your paper as well as a conclusion in which you wrap up.

The essay should be between three and five pages in length.  It should be typed (double spaced, margins of 1" all around, font no larger than 12).  It should also be stapled.


II. THE THEORY (very brief explanation – just a paragraph, maybe two)
III. MY ANALYSIS (the bulk of your paper)

The hints for success are the same as last time:

•Make sure you do everything called for in these directions.
Don't wait until the last minute to do this!  Take your time, and use the services of the Writing Center in Kettler G19 if you need to.
•You are invited to show me a draft or discuss potential paper topics in office hours or by appointment.

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Last Updated: 21 February 2008