Communication Research: COMM 280

Credits: 3 Semester Hours


COMM 111; One of the following strongly recommended: FDMAT 108; FDMAT 109; FDMAT 110; FDMAT 112; FDMAT 221; FDMAT 222; FDMAT 223; FDMAT 224

Course Description

This course is designed to help students learn about communication research tools, methods, and presentation. Its central point is helping students learn how to take raw data and make it understandable and actionable. Students will learn Excel and basic analytics. Students will learn various research methods and principles and discuss how research is shaping our world today. They will learn more about ratings, index numbers, social media, and search engine optimization tools.

Course Outcomes

  1. The central takeaway and outcome of this course is that students will demonstrate the ability to think critically, defined this way: They will take data, analyze it and present a finding or findings in a clear, useful, persuasive, and ethical fashion.
  2. Students will demonstrate understanding of the ways communication professionals use research. They will have the opportunity to experience the joy of creative discovery in research.
  3. Students will demonstrate beginning level knowledge of key analytic metrics in Nielsen, Google, Facebook,, and Nuvi. They will demonstrate the ability to make a recommendation from those data sources.
  4. Students will demonstrate understanding of important academic and media technology and sources, especially Academic Search Premeire and Mediamark Internet Reporter.
  5. Students will demonstrate the ability to create, give, and analyze a successful survey. Through creating the survey, they will also demonstrate the ability to create a clear research proposal.
  6. Students will demonstrate a knowledge of important research concepts such as reliability, variable, and so forth. They will learn what academic literature is. They will show basic understanding of how research professionals use common quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  7. Students will demonstrate understanding of common statistical principles: mean, median, mode, and standard deviation. They will have the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of basic regression, chi-square tests, and T-tests.
  8. Students will demonstrate proficiency with essential Excel functions, usage, and design, especially pivot tables, charts and filtering.
  9. Students will demonstrate understanding of how well-presented research can influence lives. They will do that by crafting a well-designed poster, presented publicly, and a final paper.
  10. Students will read papers in communication research to learn how research increases our understanding of the world.
  11. Students will demonstrate thought about how communication and communication research relate to the Gospel.


All papers must be written in AP style, that is Associated Press, not APA (American Psychological Association) style.

Required Materials

All required reading and reference materials are provided in the course.

A copy of the AP Stylebook is linked in the Welcome folder in the course or you may choose to purchase a print copy from the bookstore. (You may have it already as part of Communication 111.)

Additionally, you will use the following resources for this course (all are available free or free to BYU-I students):

Microsoft Office

You will use Microsoft Excel extensively in this course. BYU-I students may download and install Microsoft Office Suite (free) from the BYU-I bookstore. BYU-Idaho University Store 

Project-based Learning

This is a project-based course. During this course, you will work in a team to conduct a communications survey research project. Project-based learning reflects the learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.

Group Meetings

Starting in Lesson 02, you will meet weekly with a group of 3-5 students to discuss the group project, excel exercises, analytics, and learning activities. Your group will determine the day, time and how you meet. For instance, your group may meet using Google Hangouts, Skype, or another collaboration tool.

Course Structure

Each lesson is divided into seven assignment categories that are directly tied to the overall course outcomes.

  1. Learn Research Terms and Concepts: You will study important research terms and principles each week. Two specific research methods are introduced in this course, quantitative and qualitative research. It is important for you to understand how professionals are using quantitative and qualitative research methods in today's world.
  2. LearnAnalytics & Tools: Each week you will increase your understanding of key analytic metrics and important market research technologies. It is not expected that you become an expert, but it is expected that you gain a basic understanding.
  3. Assessments/Assignments: Each week you will demonstrate your ability to analyze data, make a clear and coherent recommendation and present findings.
  4. Final Project: Working with a group, you will experience the joy of research, and will wrestle with data as you determine how to analyze it, and how to present a finding in a clear, useful, compelling, and ethical fashion. You will collaborate on a group project to deepen your own understanding of how well-presented research can influence and impact lives. Make sure to invest the necessary time to fully contribute as you work with your group.

Methodologies/Concepts Introduced

  • Case Studies
  • Content Analysis
  • Charts
  • Data Mining
  • Data Storytelling
  • Depth Interviews
  • Experiments
  • Facebook Insights
  • Focus Groups
  • Google Trends
  • Graphs
  • Infographics
  • Index Numbers
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Pivot Tables
  • Ratings
  • Sampling
  • Statistics
  • Surveys

Assignment Structure

Each week you will participate in learning activities that teach you how to conduct communications research. The course is based on points. Each assignment category is worth a portion of your overall grade. 

Assignment Categories     Points    
    # of Assignments in Category Total Points Possible
Final Project  500 1 500

Weekly Deliverables (10)


10 500


10 250

Course Organization/Writing Basics Quiz: Lesson 01

60 1 60

Formatting and presenting–Rough Draft

50  1 50

Formatting and presenting–Final

450 1 450
*Learning Assignments 100  10 1000
Self-assessment 25  11 275
Discussions 25 12 325

*Learning activities take more time to complete and require creative integration and application of the COMM 280 concepts. 


  • A = 93.0–100.0%
  • A- = 90.0–92.9%
  • B+ = 87.0–89.9
  • B = 83.0–86.9
  • B- = 80.0–82.9%
  • C+ = 77.0–79.9%
  • C = 73.0–76.9
  • C- = 70.0–72.9%
  • D+ = 67.0–69.9%
  • D = 63.0–66.9%
  • D- = 60.0–62.9%
  • F = 59.9% and lower


1. Keep track of your homework assignments.

2. Mulligan. If you communicate with your instructor before the assignment due date, you may miss one quiz, not group assignment, and make it up later. Otherwise, no late work accepted. This doesn't include the final paper and its rough draft.

3. Some of the resources, notably Mintel Oxygen and MediaMark Internet Reporter, can be gimpy. It is your responsibility to find a solution to using them. You may collaborate on figuring out how to use any resource, but not on getting answers to quizzes.

4. Student with Disabilities: In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, all qualified students are entitled to "reasonable accommodation." It is the student's responsibility to disclose to the teacher any special need she/he may have before the end of the first week of class.

5. No plagiarism.

6. No fabrication.