At Wooster, Independent Study (I.S.) provides all students the opportunity to engage in an activity both personally meaningul and appropriate to their individual fields and interests. Students work closely with their faculty advisors through regularly scheduled conferences and seminars that are designed to assist, encourage, and challenge the participants and to afford both students and advisors an opportunity to share the excitement of discovery and expression in areas of mutual interest.
The first I.S. course in Communication, taken during the junior year, consists of a seminar that meets for the first half of the semester to explore the range of research projects in the discipline and to initiate students into the research methodologies of Communication Studies and Communication Sciences and Disorders. Topics include the selection of a research question or purpose; the use of the library for scholarly communication research; a broad overview of qualitative and quantitative research methods; the evaluation of scholarly research; and guidelines for scholarly writing. In the second half of the semester, students meet with individual faculty advisors to complete an original research project. The course as a whole involves a number of writing assignments, as well as the draft and revision of chapters, in order to help students clarify their goals and articulate their research findings in a coherent way.
In the Department of Communication, many students have revised their Junior I.S. theses and submitted them for consideration to professional conferences. Indeed, over 20 students since 1996 have had their Junior I.S. thesis or course paper accepted in competitive reviews. Students have delivered the results of their research at the DePauw University Undergraduate Honors Conference, the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, the Communication Studies Student Conference at Arizona State University, and the Ohio Speech and Hearing Association. At these conferences, students have received helpful feedback from well-known scholars and had the opportunity to share research insights with others. Both graduate schools and prospective employers view the competitive review and presentation of original research as a positive sign of an individual's intellect, research and analysis skills, and initiative. Perhaps equally compelling reasons for students to submit their I.S. theses to conferences, though, are getting to know new people and bonding with peers from Wooster in a different setting. In a word, conferences are fun.
In the senior year, each student, under the guidance of his or her advisor, spends two semesters working on a major investigative project that culminates in the writing of a thesis. Recent majors have studied:
- Extra, Extra, Read All About It: Examining the Role of Competition in the Day-to-Day Operations of Newspapers with a Local Focus
- The Status of Audiologic Rehabilitation for Adult Patients with Cochlear Implants
- Verbal Communication in Traditional and Open Structured Classrooms: The Ways in Which Discipline, Support, and Instruction Differ
- George W. Bush’s Rhetoric in the War on Terrorism: An Analysis of the Presidential Response to the Attacks of September 11
- Modern Bride and the "Fairy Tale" Wedding: A Case Study of Hegemony
- A Social Skills Group for Adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome
- An Analysis of the Communication Needs of Seriously Ill Patients
- "He’s Got the Ball Without the Chain": An Analysis of the Diffusion of a Sportscenter Catch Phrase
- The Effectiveness of Tympanoplasty Surgeries Using Alloderm TM
- The Rhetorical Characteristics of Political Entertainment: An Analysis of My Fellow Americans, The American President, and Dave
- The Perspective of All Things Considered: An Analysis and Comparison of Public and Commercial Radio News Programs
- Yack, Yack, Yack: A Network Analysis of Everyday Communication in Organizations
- A Study of Speech-Language Pathologists’ and Audiologists’ Views on Formal Counseling Coursework in Master’s Degree Programs
- "Good Actions Are Nourishment for Youths Just as Much as Words": The Effectiveness of the Words, Images, and Methods Used in the Lovelife Aids Campaign to Prevent the Spread of AIDS Among South African Youth.
On graduation weekend, the Department holds a Senior Open House where faculty, students, their families, and other members of the College community celebrate the new graduates' research achievements.