COMM - Communication Arts

Volume 1: 2022.2023

Effective 1 June 2022 through 31 May 2023

Please see the Graduate Catalog Archives for PDF versions of past catalogs.

Course Descriptions

COMM 5020 Young Adult Literature (3)

In this course, graduate students learn how to select, evaluate and teach literature written for young adults (grades 6-12). A special focus is on international and multicultural literature with methods for infusing literature into the existing curriculum and across disciplines. Students design a “literature project” for their classroom or designated grade levels. This course counts for certification. Prerequisite: Admission to MA/certification program/advisor consent.

COMM 5030 Historical Linguistics (3)

This course looks at natural language change and then applies those theories to language diversity in the United States. Important laws, policies, and language planning are covered, including English Only policies, the Ebonics controversy, and bilingual education. Students will write their own language policies for a school and write about the effects of linguistic diversity in today's classroom.

COMM 5187 Secondary Techniques and Curriculum (3)

The course provides secondary teachers opportunities to learn basic instructional techniques, formative and summative assessment models, curriculum development, and lesson plans. Teachers and prospective teachers are expected to integrate the professional standards from their discipline into their projects and assignments.

COMM 5199 Teaching Writing (3)

Students will study current theories and practices of teaching writing as well as review the history of rhetoric. Based on contemporary theory and classroom realities, students will practice designing writing assignments, organizing courses and activities for writing, and assessing writing. They will also experience the actual process of composing by designing a writing process project.

COMM 5200 Independent Study (1-3)

MA students with special interests or needs not met by existing curricula may request that a faculty member supervise an independent study. Together the student and faculty member decide the content of the study and the criteria for evaluation. In no case can an independent study be set up when an existing course already treats the subject. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Prerequisite: Permission of the coordinator. 

COMM 5210 In-Service Education (1-4)

Webster offers graduate in-service courses not part of the existing MA curricula but which provide experiences important to the academic and professional development of educators. May be repeated for credit when topic varies. The semester course lists identify specific topics. Prerequisite: Prior written approval of the MA advisor.

COMM 5260 Oral Communication (2-3)

In the first few sessions, students examine basic communication principles. Class activities and out-of-class assignments are designed to help students recognize common causes of communication problems and to expand their skills in dealing with them. The second part of the course builds on this knowledge as students practice more formal presentation skills.

COMM 5270 Visual Communication (2-3)

Students learn methods by which various types of information can be interpreted and presented visually. Because today’s students can “read’’ visual messages, just as they read written messages, educators must master the elements, structure, and tools provided to develop visual materials. Creation of video activities for the classroom and mastering basic video production techniques are emphasized.

COMM 5280 Written Communication (2-3)

Students experience writing as a process of discovery as they improve their writing skills. Exercises designed to focus on various purposes, occasions, and audiences help writers examine clarity, organization, style, and word precision.

COMM 5290 Interpersonal Communication (2-3)

This course entails both the self-analysis and classroom application of interpersonal communications skills. Specific topics include oral presentations, listening, conflict resolution, social styles analysis, verbal and nonverbal communications, motivation, and methods to enhance your learning environment. Professional educators are encouraged to research and observe communication techniques that will facilitate retentive learning.

COMM 5340 Language Arts Seminars (2-3)

Students become involved in a wide variety of activities designed to enhance the teaching of language arts in their classrooms. The courses listed under this course number are representatives of the workshop topics; other workshop topics are included in different semesters.

  • Advanced Storytelling Across the Curriculum (3)
    Storytelling is a way of using drama in the classroom through literature, creative movement, music, sound, and improvisation to develop interdisciplinary thematic units. Experiences are designed especially for teachers of pre-kindergarten through high school. Prerequisite: Storytelling Across the Curriculum or equivalent.
  • Children’s Writing (3)
    Participants learn how to successfully implement writing workshop for grades 1 to 6.  Focus is on strategies to support students’ development of skills within the writing process. Strategies for assessment to inform instruction will be demonstrated and practiced.
  • Creating Books for Young Readers (3)
    This class is for teachers and others who are interested in writing and illustrating books (both fiction and non-fiction) for young readers. The course combines lectures, hands-on experience with writing activities and group discussion. Tools and strategies for encouraging creative writing and inspiration are provided.
  • Creative Expression (3)
    Participants explore a variety of art forms, including mime, mask, visual arts, improvisation, creative drama, movement, music, storytelling, writing, and poetry. Several art forms are blended for multimedia presentations.
  • Creative Writing (3)
    This is a workshop course that focuses on creative writing skills. Students will write a variety of stories and poems for a variety of different audiences. This course is for those who want to take their love of literature to another level and produce creative works of their own.
  • Developing Language Skills through Puppetry (3)
    In this course students have a chance to explore many methods of using puppetry in the classroom. With the assistance of skilled resource people, students become actively involved in the creative process of puppet making, puppet manipulation, and curriculum planning and presentation.
  • Extending Literature through the Arts (3)
    Students explore oral interpretation, reader’s theatre, story theatre, creative drama (improvisation, storytelling, movement, music), writing, and film/video as they discover ways to bring literature for young people to life. Participants incorporate interdisciplinary, thematic approaches to literature to enrich curriculum K-12.
  • Media Literacy (2-3)
    What messages are being conveyed through the channels of mass communication? How do these messages affect our behavior? Media literacy has emerged as an established field of study within the international academic community. This course prepares students to become discerning and selective consumers of media and explores exciting ways of discussing media in the K-12 classroom.
  • Nature Writing (3)
    This course will integrate writing and working with nature. It may incorporate the development of a school garden and will emphasize the importance of sustainability. Writing about nature is an excellent way to develop an appreciation of it.
  • Oral Interpretation of Literature (3)
    Through exploration and preparation of selections for oral presentation, students experience sensory and intellectual responses to literature. Lab sessions, group readings, and individual performances aim to develop the understanding and skills to communicate literature orally.
  • Storytelling Across the Curriculum (3)
    This course enables students to polish their storytelling skills as they develop a repertoire of material from a variety of genres: personal and original stories, folk fairy tales, literary tales, myths, and sagas. This course focuses on storytelling as performance art, often using movement, music, mime, puppets, story theatre, visual arts, and other media. Students also explore and document uses of storytelling as a motivational classroom teaching tool and design interdisciplinary thematic storytelling units.
  • Teaching Language and Language Issues (3)
    This course presents some of the various divisions in the field of linguistics from phonology and grammar to doublespeak, including speech theory and oral performance. Films, readings, and oral presentations will be the academic foundations for the study of linguistics in this class. Students will also create instructional activities that are designed to make their students more aware and proficient in the use of language.
  • Teaching the Language Arts with Computers (2)
    Students learn methods of using computers to support instruction in the development of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and observation skills. Participants discuss small group, whole class, and individualized applications.
  • Technology and Thinking Skills (2-3)
    This is a course on developing students’ thinking skills using new video and computer technologies. These technologies include interactive video, expert systems, and software, with emphasis on equipment and software available in most schools. Concepts and strategies for using these technologies in developing critical and creative thinking are examined. Previous experience with the technologies is not necessary.
  • Workshop in Drama (2)
    Participants are actively involved throughout the three major phases of the course: (1) pre-drama activities that expand sensory and body awareness, concentration, imagination, and nonverbal communication; (2) informal, spontaneous drama; and (3) the use of drama as response to literature.
  • Writing and Composition Instruction Using Computers (2)
    Students in this course examine methods for applying word processors and other computer programs to support writing and composition instruction. Students discuss organizing instruction in laboratory or classroom settings.

COMM 5344 Introduction to Linguistics (3)

This course provides an overview to the field of Linguistics and its many subfields. Students will gain a stronger appreciation of language and a better understanding of research concerning human language. Course content is then related to today's classrooms and the implications these theories might have on learners today.

COMM 5350 Language and Culture (3)

Culture greatly affects communication and the kind of language used in various situations. This course focuses on both the different styles of communication found across different cultures and the strategies that speakers use when communicating within their own culture. Special attention is paid to the role of Pragmatics and the use of "politeness strategies" in communication. Students will develop classroom materials that will help learners acquire the pragmatics skills they need to be successful communicators today.

COMM 5391 American Novel (3)

This course focuses on the development of the American novel and recurrent American themes. Students read and discuss five or six novels and the related contemporary criticism, considering each work in its own right, in relation to other works, and as teaching material.

COMM 5392 American Poetry (3)

Students explore the trends in American poetry, from its Native American and Puritan origins through its contemporary forms. Major poets are read and discussed in light of literary history and critical theory and in terms of readers' responses. The information and skills gained in this course are applicable to the reading and teaching of literature at many levels and for many abilities.

COMM 5393 American Short Story (3)

The short story is the most accessible and teachable of literary forms and rich with possibilities beyond the usual lessons. Emphasis will be on American writers.

COMM 5395 Contemporary World Literature (3)

Participants delve into fiction, poetry, and drama since World War II that thematically and artistically reflect concerns distinctly different from those commonly expected by members of post-World War II America. Emphasis is on the literature of Eastern and Western Europe and South America.

COMM 5398 World Literature (3)

Students study several major documents of world literature, spanning three millennia. The basic argument of the course is that there are fundamental human documents to be read and studied, that the few included in our course are some of them, and that these are eminently teachable works.

COMM 5399 Poetry of the Planet (3)

This exploration will uncover poetry on our planet. Collectively and individually, students will study and search for poems suitable for K-12 classrooms that can be pursued, presented, and performed. A poetry celebration will conclude the journey. “What place would you advise me to visit now?” he asked. “The planet Earth,” replied the geographer. “It has a good reputation.” -Antoine De Saint Exupery

COMM 5410 In-Service Topics (1-3)

In-service courses are designed to provide MA degree-seeking students with practical applications of contemporary research and methodology to improve classroom effectiveness. These courses may be approved for the MA with prior written approval of the student’s advisor. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

COMM 5440 Integrated Language Arts (3)

This course develops educators' abilities to promote creativity, cognitive flexibility and well-being through readings and activities that integrate speaking, listening, reading, writing, thinking, the visual arts, movement, music and wellness strategies. The course is designed to prepare early childhood, elementary, special education and Communication Arts candidates to integrate curricula which will promote development of multimodal literacy.

COMM 5460 Curriculum Design (3)

This course is required for the MA in communication arts. It is designed to help individuals plan learning experiences. Topics included in discussion are technology in the classroom, research regarding learning, models of curriculum design, and methods of evaluation. Each student develops a curriculum unit that has a direct application to a particular teaching situation.

COMM 5490 Seminars in Reading Instruction (2-3)

Seminars are designed to focus on contemporary research and classroom application. Different topic descriptions may be repeated for credit.

  • Literacy as Empowerment-International Perspectives (2-3)
    This course is an investigation of the role of “literacy learning” in other countries. Students explore implications for their own teaching so they can deepen understanding of the dynamics inherent in social, political, and academic arenas. Methods/materials from classrooms are reviewed, and each student will focus on an area (emergent literacy, adult literacy, “illiteracy” or “alliteracy,” gender-related issues) and a country to research for a class report.

COMM 5520 Communications Seminars (2-3)

Communications workshops allow participants to explore various aspects of the communication process. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

  • Communication for Teachers (3)
    This course is an extension of materials and methods covered in COMM 5260 Oral Communication. Completion of COMM 5260 Oral Communication is a suggested prerequisite for this course, but is not required. Topics covered include communicating with administrators, peers, and students; negotiation of conflicting needs; conducting parent-teacher conferences; communicating in and with families; school-related communication issues for children coping with divorce; facilitating school meetings and giving presentations; and conducting teacher workshops and in-service programs.
  • Professional Writing (3)
    This class will focus on writing articles/books for professional publication. The class will be taught as a workshop so that students can work on individual projects and get important feedback and information on publishing their work.
  • Writing Across the Curriculum (2-3)
    Students examine and experience realistic ways to initiate the writing process-prewriting, writing, rewriting, editing, and evaluating. A history of teaching writing from Cicero to Elbow prepares teachers for classroom activities.
  • Ways of Seeing (2)
    Ways of Seeing gives students a chance to explore seeing as a sensory, perceptual, imaginative, psychological, artistic, cultural, idiomatic, literary, and journalistic experience.

COMM 5530 Technology and Teaching (3)

This course is a non-technical approach to the study of technologies and communications related to teaching and training. Students learn how home, school, and business are affected by technology. Primary emphasis is on the direct application of current technology to educational settings and specific teaching objectives.

COMM 5540 Methods of Teaching Middle School and Secondary English (3)

This course examines issues, attitudes, and trends in teaching English as well as the essential subject matter of the discipline. Strategies, canons, management and philosophy concerning instruction are addressed. The class will discuss methods used to teach and evaluate speaking, listening, writing, reading and viewing. They will design lesson plans and teach them to the class. The course guides students on their journey to becoming a teacher of English Language Arts.

COMM 5640 Methods of Teaching Art Forms, Health and PE (2-3)

This course brings students in contact with many of the leading themes, styles, and media of artistic communication. Students explore the roles of visual arts, music, creative drama, and movement in fostering the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive well-being of individuals in school communities.

COMM 5730 Materials Development for Language Classrooms (3)

This course introduces digital literacy and its application in language teaching. It assists candidates to create hands-on teaching materials for both face-to-face and online courses in language classrooms. The course focuses on creating mini-lessons using handouts, descriptive packets, cartoons, animations, movies, video games, youtube, vimeo, mobile apps, social networking sites, and other web-enhanced materials. The main emphasis is on using new technologies to create engaging teaching and learning activities. Candidates will develop a digital portfolio, which will be useful for their job interviews and conference presentations. The course should benefit all TESOL candidates, Communication Arts students, and foreign language education candidates.

COMM 5750 Special Institute (1-3 hours)

Webster offers various institutes to provide a wide range of workshop experiences and contemporary topics within the communications arts program. Detailed current information appears in the specific semester course offerings. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

  • Final Writing Project (3)
    With the guidance of the instructor, certificate students will produce a final writing project that focuses on their particular interest. This class requires advisor approval.
  • Grammar for ESL/EFL Teachers (3)
    This course introduces modern English grammar, as well as modalities of including it in the day-to-day language instruction. It is designed to provide the adult ESL/EFL teacher with a knowledge base of various English structures, with regard to syntax (i.e., form), semantics (i.e., meaning), and pragmatics (i.e., use). Special emphasis is given to the development of fun, communicative and interactive lesson plans and activities, which target specific grammar points while meeting various test standards (e.g. Show Me and TOEFL). Theory and research is concentrated in the areas SLA, Methodology and Assessment.
  • Grant Writing (3)
    Participants engage in writing grants with support of an instructor.  Focus is on locating grant opportunities, addressing guidelines and actually composing the rationale, grant narrative and budget request.
  • Teaching English Pronunciation  (3)
    Teaching English pronunciation to non-native speakers of English is often one of the most intimidating tasks facing an ESL teacher. This course takes students through the consonant and vowel systems of English, with focus on describing proper articulation and developing pedagogical materials. Special attention is paid to "suprasegmental features" in English, which are the stress, rhythm, and intonation patterns that can most affect intelligibility. Students will design pronunciation materials and conduct a textbook analysis.

COMM 5800 Applied Research (3)

This course enables students, through action research projects, to develop strategies for problem solving within their classrooms and procedures for conducting self-study as it relates to, but is not limited to, teacher behaviors, learning outcomes, curriculum, policy development, and behavior management. Prerequisites: COMM 5460 and advancement to candidacy.

COMM 5820 Foundations in Reading Instruction (2-3)

The focus is on reading methods and specific techniques appropriate for emergent readers and developmental readers in elementary grades. A review of best practices in reading instruction, based on both current research and practice, informs graduate students so they can provide instruction for diverse learners at all levels. This course offers a solid background in reading instruction for students who have not had prior coursework in reading.

COMM 5830 Emergent Literacy (2-3)

Students explore theories and practices of literacy learning. Graduate students engage with community, school, and family resources to identify current teaching strategies and instructional methods. Topics for study include: Contexts of Literacy, Parents and Preschoolers as Emerging Readers, Whole Language and Constructivism as a guiding philosophy, Family Education, and Special Programs. Students learn to provide a supportive environment with direct and indirect approaches for promoting phonemic awareness with a focus on meaning and understanding structures of language in the printed text. An emphasis on stages of development and methods of assessment will provide a background for teaching in early childhood and elementary settings. This course has been approved for certification in early childhood. (Not counted as a methods course for elementary education or reading certificate.)

COMM 5840 Reading and Writing as Cognitive Processes (2-3)

This course Is designed for early childhood, elementary, and special education teachers to examine the reading-writing connection and develop methods for teaching their students critical thinking skills and problem solving In the area of literacy. Participants will study frameworks for fostering comprehension including analytical and critical reading and content literacy. This course counts for initial elementary, early childhood, and special education certification.

COMM 5880 Survey Reading Course for Secondary Teachers (3)

This course includes reading techniques and study strategies for teachers of students in grades 6-12. A major emphasis is communication of concepts in content areas.

COMM 5900 Reading Seminars (1-3)

The content of various topics is focused on methods and technologies necessary for promoting reading development, increasing knowledge of fiction and nonfiction, and establishing positive attitudes toward literacy grades K-12. Topics offered include the study of genres, adolescent literature, children’s literature, and strategic approaches for constructing meaning in reading and composing. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

COMM 5905 Reading Assessments and Interventions, Grades 6-12 (3)

The focus of this class will be on planning interventions based on interpretation of formal and informal reading assessments for students in grades 6-12. An emphasis will be on current theory and best practices in literacy. Participants will design intervention strategies in response to assessment data. 

COMM 5920 Reading and Writing in the Content Field (3)

This course will present a broad spectrum of reading and writing strategies necessary for understanding text. Participants study the different kinds of reading and writing required for varied situations and materials and consider problems such as adjusting assignments, providing assistance in content assignments, and dealing with non-proficient readers and writers. A content area unit is part of the course evaluation and includes vocabulary as well as pre-reading, during reading, post reading and writing strategies, in addition to formative and summative assessments. This course is used for middle school and secondary certification. Assessment and instructional strategies will be discussed and applied in class as well as in assignments.

COMM 5930 Investigations in Reading, Intermediate (2-3)

This course emphasizes reviewing research and methods related to the teaching of reading in grades 4-6. Participants are assisted in pursuing topics of personal interest in individual investigative projects. Counts for initial elementary certification.

COMM 5960 Differentiated Reading Instruction (3)

Students learn about research and best practices in developmental reading and learn how to assess abilities and needs of individual students within the classroom. Various materials and activities are developed for whole group, small group and individual instruction, based on informal and formal assessments. Course counts for initial teaching certification.

COMM 5990 Independent Scholar (1-3)

An MA graduate with special interests or needs not met by existing curricula may request that a member of the faculty supervise an independent study. Together the student and faculty member decide the content of the study and the criteria for evaluation. In no case can an independent study be set up when an existing course already covers the subject. May be repeated for credit if content differs. Prerequisite: Student must be an MA graduate.