Syllabus for COM-335



Intercultural Communication presents a theoretical and practical approach to the study of intercultural communication. The course focuses on the many elements and processes involved in the sending and receiving of messages across cultures. The aim of the course is to increase sensitivity to and understanding of intercultural differences and similarities, leading to more effective communication. The course covers basic concepts, principles.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

CO1        Explain the communication process and relate it to communicating with cultures different from your own.

CO2        Demonstrate an understanding of how cultural differences in worldview, family experience, and history shape perceptions, behaviors, and communication patterns.

CO3        Analyze and articulate the variables in the intercultural communication situation (attitudes, social organization, patterns of thought, roles, language, space, time, nonverbal communication, ethnocentrism, world view).

CO4        Describe specific verbal and nonverbal communication patterns that are reflected during human interaction.

CO5        Explain the influence of culture on communication in at least three settings where intercultural exchanges are most likely to occur: the workplace, school, and healthcare environments.

CO6        Identify and implement ways to improve the intercultural communications in various professional, academic and social settings.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN-13: 978-1285444628

Suggested (optional) Material

To learn more about specific topics, check the references in the “Notes” section starting on page 408 of your textbook.

A helpful (and often entertaining) paperback book that is a widely known bestseller on inter-cultural communications may interest you if you are actually interacting personally or professionally with individuals from other cultures. The book is Do’s and Taboos Around The World, by Roger E. Axtell, a former executive with Parker Pen. The most recent version—the third edition—is published by The Benjamin Company, a John Wiley & Sons division, and is available from libraries, bookstores, and Internet book sites for under $15. Among other features, the book contains a country-by-country bullet-pointed discussion of tips on greetings, gift giving, topics of conversation, and general protocol—all of which are very useful to anyone interacting regularly with colleagues, acquaintances, or relatives from other cultures!

Movies dealing with cross-cultural issues are easy to come by, are an enjoyable way to observe what may happen when cultures collide. Some noteworthy movies that illustrate aspects of intercultural communications—often humorously or very dramatically—are: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend it Like Beckham, Gung Ho, Tootsie (for male-female communication insight), The Birdcage (for insight into the culture and communication of gay individuals), Black Rain, King Ralph, Moscow on the Hudson, and Lost in Translation. Check out some of these titles in movie guides or on Internet sites to see if you think you’d enjoy any of them for what they say about the cultural issues on which they focus.


Intercultural Communication is a three-credit online course, consisting of six modules. Modules include learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, take a proctored midterm examination, and complete a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Promoting Originality

One or more of your course activities may utilize a tool designed to promote original work and evaluate your submissions for plagiarism. More information about this tool is available in this document.

Discussion Forums

In addition to posting an introduction to the class in Module 1, you are required to participate in five graded online discussions.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Written Assignments

The six written assignments that you submit to the mentor for evaluation and grading consist of essay questions on material from the textbook and reader and encompass personal experiences, theories, and synthesis.

Communication does not take place in a vacuum, and applying real-life experiences and anecdotes you have had to your discussions and activities enhances your appreciation and understanding of the subject you’re studying. (You’ll also find that the experiences and anecdotes that other class members will share with you in the online discussion forums will help you gain additional insight into the subject.)

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the written assignment questions in each module, and read through the assignment questions before you begin each reading assignment.

Your answers to assignment questions should be well developed and should show evidence of thought, organization, effective writing, and of course responsiveness to the question! Please make sure you edit and proofread your work before submitting it. Gross errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation distract from what you are writing and compromise the credibility of your work.

Midterm Examination

This course requires you to take a closed-book, proctored midterm examination. Consult the Course Calendar for the scheduling of the exam.

The midterm is two hours long and covers all material assigned in Modules 1, 2, and 3. It consists of short essay questions on the basic concepts from the textbook and reader. If you have concerns about the format and/or content of the examination, please contact your mentor at least a week in advance of the scheduled test.


For the midterm, you are required to use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.


Online exams are administered through the course Website. Consult the Course Calendar for the official dates of your midterm exam week.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

The final project is in the form of a written paper that is worth 20% of your course grade. You will be required in your paper to develop a framework for analyzing and understanding a specific culture or co-culture by examining these characteristics:


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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