Research literacy

The ability to create and complete at least one inquiry project that:

  1. Articulates a communication problem, strategy, or initiative to be analyzed and evaluated
  2. Adopts an epistemological standpoint
  3. Locates, aggregates, and analyzes credible research
  4. Drafts a literature review that supports and illuminates a chosen area of inquiry
  5. Composes and supports arguments using at least one theoretical framework

To help prepare students to successfully complete the MACOMM program, the program is designed so that most students begin with a course called Communication Fluency (formerly Research Proseminar). It is in this course that students learn how to locate existing research, make sense of that research, and apply the research to a communication problem or phenomenon. As my colleagues and I were introduced to theory after theory, I became particularly drawn to the theoretical idea of relational dialectics. After conducting a literature review, I wanted to explore how I might apply this interesting theory to a real-life situation.

However, there was a problem: relational dialectics is by definition about two people in relationship with one another. How could I study a personal relationship that wasn’t my own? That’s when I learned something else: research doesn’t have to be overtly academic – a movie, song lyrics, a Facebook post, a blog series, any type of “text” is worthy of study. So, to explore relational dialectics, I chose to study the dialogue between two characters in a film – the film License to Wed, to be precise (please don’t read that as an endorsement of the film, which isn’t my favorite!).

The below Research Application document takes readers through one of my first research inquiry projects. It introduces the idea that studying the relationships of engaged couples is valuable. Then, it takes readers through a literature review of existing research on the topic and introduces the idea of relational dialectics. Finally, it applies the lens of relational dialectics to the film and analyzes the film using that lens. The result was a challenging but entertaining assignment that taught me that communication theory can be applied in so many ways.

Research Application – Relational Dialectics and License to Wed

Research gives us the tools we need to look at the world through a different lens! Lelia in Haiti, 2011
Research gives us the tools we need to look at the world through a different lens! Lelia in Haiti, 2011

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