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MDS 101-02 Fall 2018: Home

Course philosophy

Media Literacy and Democratic Citizenship

The founders of the United States articulated the need for a literate citizenship as core to the development of a deep and enduring democracy. We live in an age when the most influential messages about pressing social issues and events are delivered through mass media, such as television, magazines and the Internet. Most students use the Internet as their primary source of information, yet few have any formal training in assessing the credibility of information in Web sites. It is essential to the success of our democracy that young people consciously and consistently analyze and evaluate media messages. They need to be taught to seek out current, accurate, and credible sources of information; they need to understand the influence of media messages on their understanding of the world; and they need training in identifying and using various techniques for communicating messages in different media forms. Without these critical skills, we risk losing the diversity and freedom of thought that underpins a culture of true democracy.                                                                                                                                                  --Project Look Sharp, 2005



Please take a few moments to review the syllabus! We'll be going over it on the first day and you'll need to refer to it throughout the semester.

There will be a brief syllabus quiz on Friday, August 31.




MDS 101-02: Media Persuasion in Everyday Life
LEP tier 1 Critical thinking
Communication, Media, & Screen Studies Department

Where: BU 204
When: 9:10 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. MWF

Your professor: Dr. Susan Clerc

If you need to contact me via email, please include the course (MDS 101-02) in the subject line.

Phone: 203 392-5735

Office: Buley 122I (ask for directions at the Reference Desk)

Office hours: Wednesday 1-2; Thursday 12-1; or by appointment

If you want to meet with me but can’t meet during my office hours, email me to make an appointment. In the subject line, please identify the class (MDS 101-02). In the message, please include your name, what you want to meet about, and at least 2 dates and times you’re available. I will reply as quickly as I can to arrange a meeting.

If you make an appointment but can't make it, email me as soon as possible to let me know.

A Course Syllabus is a Contract

A course syllabus is a contract between the student and the professor. It explains the course expectations and requirements. If you choose to stay in this course, and I hope that you do, you are confirming that you have read the course syllabus, understand its content, expectations, course and university policies, and will abide by them. Failure to do so will result in failing the course.


There is no textbook for the course. Materials will be posted to Blackboard 9 or distributed in class.

Course objectives:

You will identify examples of mediated persuasion in your daily life and learn to analyze them according to classical and contemporary theories. In doing so, you will develop critical thinking skills. You will also practice constructing and evaluating your own arguments and persuasive appeals.


Learning objectives & outcomes:    

  • At the end of this course, you will be able to:
  • Identify and apply classical theoretical models of persuasion and rhetoric (Ethos, Pathos, Logos)              
  • Identify and apply components of the classical model of persuasion (Toulmin model)Identify and analyze components of your mediated environment using contemporary persuasion models as they apply to a variety of media (Cultivation, Framing, etc.)
  • Demonstrate understanding of the role media plays in constructing modern culture

By successfully:

  • Creating Power Point, Prezi, or video presentations
  • Participating in class discussion
  • Passing quizzes
  • Completing assignments

Tentative course calendar:

Changes may be made at the instructor’s discretion

Expect short in-class quizzes and questions requiring very brief written answers


Week 1:               August 29 & 31                      Intro & general principles

Week 2:               September 5 & 7                   Persuasion in the Media Age

Week 3:               September 10, 12, 14           Classical rhetorical model: Ethos

Week 4:               September 17, 19, 21           Classical rhetorical model: Pathos

Week 5:               September 24, 26, 28          Classical rhetorical model: Logos/Midterm topic due

Week 6:               October 1, 3, 5                     Classical theory of persuasion: Toulmin model of argumentation

Week 7:               October 8, 10, 12                 Toulmin model continued

Week 8:               October 15, 17, 19               Workshops/midterm project due/Quiz

Week 9:               October 22, 24, 26               Intro to Contemporary Cultural Theory

Week 10:             October 29, 31, November 2       Contemporary Cultural Theory

Week 11:             November 5, 7, 9                         Contemporary Cultural Theory/Final topic due

Week 12:             November 12, 14, 16                   Contemporary Cultural Theory

Week 13:             November 19 (Thanksgiving)      Final project discussion

Week 14:             November 26, 28, 30                   Workshops

Week 15:             December 3, 5, 7                          Final presentations

Week 16:             Finals week                                   TBD

Assignments & grading:

Midterm project                                             30 %

Final project/presentation                              40 %      

Quizzes, assignments, worksheets               20 %

Class engagement*                                       10%

A+: 100-97           A: 96-93                A-:90-92

B+: 90-87             B: 86-83                B-: 80-82

C+: 80-77             C: 76-73                C-:70-72

D+: 60-65             D: 66-63                D-:60-62

Below 60: F


*Class engagement is an important part of your final grade. You are required to engage in the following for every class:

  • Bring all class materials to class every class meeting, including the syllabus
  • Thoughtfully and thoroughly review all assigned materials before the class for which they are assigned
  • Participate constructively, intelligently, and thoughtfully
  • Communicate respectfully, verbally and nonverbally in class, office hours, and course-related communication via email, telephone or BB9


Grades will NOT be posted to Blackboard 9


All assignments are due at 9:10 a.m. unless otherwise stated.

All assignments will be submitted as a hard copy in class and electronically on BB9 unless otherwise stated.

Assignments are not considered “submitted” until both copies are received.

I do not accept emailed assignments


All assignments will include instructions and requirements.

If you violate the instructions or requirements:

  • I will stop evaluating, it will be returned to you, and you will have one chance to revise and resubmit it
  • The late policy applies and begins the day it is returned for revision regardless of your presence.
  • You must meet with me, outside of class and within three days of its return (or attempted return), regardless of my office hours (you can email me to make an appointment if you cannot make my hours) so that we can identify your mistakes and you can move forward in a positive and productive direction.
  • You will earn a D- (60) on the revision if you violate the instructions or requirements a second time.       
  • Please do your share to carefully and thoroughly read and correctly apply all instructions and requirements.


All revision must be submitted two ways (unless otherwise stated):

  1. As an electronic copy on BB9 and titled, “Revision”
  2. As hard copy marked “Revision” with the original hard copy (with my comments)  stapled to the back of the hardcopy revision. This is due in class on the assigned date

The revision will not be accepted, and you will earn an F (59) on the revision, if you violate the instructions.

You will earn a zero (0) on the assignment if you violate the late policy.


The Three-Strikes Policy applies to essays (you will be writing short essays).

  1. When I come to the third typo and/or gross misuse of the formal English language, I will stop reading the essay, the essay will be returned to you and it will earn a D- (60).
  2. A revision will not be accepted.
  3. Please take ownership and pride in your work, regularly proof read and use the Academic Success Center (BU 303) for support.


Late Assignments:

Late assignment and essays must be submitted to my office (as well as on BB9 unless otherwise stated).

Please submit late assignments and essays as soon as possible because the late policy begins immediately.

The following will apply to late assignment and essay submissions:

  • Received after 9:10 a.m. on the day it is due earns a five (5) point deduction from its final grade
  • Received one day late earns a ten (10) point deduction from its final grade
  • Received two days late earns a twenty (20) point deduction from its final grade
  • Received three days late earns a thirty (30) point deduction from its final grade
  • Received four or more days late, including Saturday and Sunday, earns a zero (0) for its final grade.


Missed Course Work:

If you are absent, late to class, or leave early, please do not ask me if you missed anything important–everything we do is important.

You are responsible for all class information, materials and due dates.

You are required to contact me before the next class meeting and outside of class to obtain missed information otherwise I am not obligated to keep track of materials you missed.

In-class assignments, tests, essays, midterm exam and final essay cannot be made up

In-class lectures, discussions and assignments cannot be reproduced.

I will not bring extra class materials to class to redistribute.

Be sure to get a classmate’s contact information because you may need it as the semester progresses.

Not all class materials, assignments and essays will be posted on BB9.


MLA style:

Many assignments require the application of the Modern Language Association (MLA) so please familiarize yourself with the following website:

Your application of MLA will affect your grade and will be evaluated according to the above website. You may also seek help at the Academic Success Center (BU 303)

Attendance and absences:

  1. Class begins at 9:10 a.m.
  2. Quizzes and short written assignments will be given at the start of class. They will be timed. If you arrive late, you get the time left on the clock and that is all.
  3. Attendance is taken every day
  4. Arriving more than 10 minutes late for class will be regarded as an absence
  5. The attendance policy begins the date and time that you register for the course.
  6. Two absences are allowed with the exception of the observance of religious holy days. Please let me know ahead of time if you will be missing class for a religious observance.
  7. Absences three and four will result in a five-point deduction from your final course grade for each occurrence.
  8. At your fifth absence, you will automatically fail the course–no exceptions.
  9. Absences include but are not limited to:
  • unexpected or unanticipated medical issues
  • ime & scheduling conflicts
  • family illness or death
  • personal & professional engagements
  • self, family & friend emergencies
  • Hoot Loot & technology mishaps
  • oversleeping
  • collegial sporting events
  • commuting & parking problems
  • meeting with professors, advisers, & staff during class time
  1. Please use your absences wisely.
  2. My attendance record takes precedent, therefore the burden is yours if our records due not match.
  3. Please contact me immediately if exceptional circumstances arise that effect your attendance so that I can ask for and obtain appropriate documentation within seven (7) days of returning to class. If this applies to you, I may recommend that you withdraw from the course and register for it again at a time more convenient for your schedule to ensure your success in this course.
  4. If you fail to provide requested documentation that is approved by me within seven (7) days of returning to class, you will earn absences for the class periods missed.
  5. Quizzes, in class writing assignments, and group exercises cannot be made up and you will lose any grade points associated with them.


Arriving Late and/or Leaving Early

A. You are required to email me within 24 hours of being late to class or leaving class early.

B. The email must include:

                i. Your full name (e.g. Vera Similitude)                                       

                ii. The course number and section (MDS 101-02)                              

                iii. The date you were late to class or left class early (e.g. 11/19/2018)

                iv. A quick note stating that:

                                a. You were late to class

                                b. Would like to be marked present for that class meeting

                                c. You accept responsible for the missed material as a result of arriving late.

                v. Or a quick note stating that:

                                a. You left class early

                                b. You accept responsible for the missed material as a result of leaving class early.

C. If you fail to do A and B., you will earn an absence for that class meeting–no further discussion.           

D. Please email me again if you do not receive confirmation from me within 24 hours that I received your email.

E. If you arrive late or leave early, please enter and leave quietly, sit in the back row of the classroom, and do not disrupt the class. Do not ask me or your classmates what you’ve missed.

F. If you arrive late or leave early, you will not be given extra time to complete assignments, tests and midterm exam.

G. My records take precedent, therefore the burden is yours if our records due not match. (keep a copy of our email exchange in case you need to provide it later in the semester).

H. If you arrive late to class or leave early four times or more (and in any combination), you will earn one absence for each occurrence.



Weather emergencies:

  1. Inclement weather does not excuse you from class, assignments, essays, tests, projects, or due dates.
  2. Delayed openings, early dismissals, and university closings do not excuse you from due dates
  3. Check the university website, your Southern email, and sign up for alerts Do not call or email your professor.
  4. Taking mass transportation is an option if inclement weather prevents you from driving to campus.
  5. SCSU has a free shuttle service throughout campus and to and from the New Haven train station.
  6. Riding the commuter trains and city buses are free for most Connecticut students–please visit for further information.
  7. Please plan ahead for such times, take appropriate precautions, use your best judgment and stay safe (you may need to use an absence for these times however this does not allow you to violate the attendance policy).
  8. Late Openings, Early Dismissals & University Closings
  • Late openings, early dismissals, and University closings do not excuse you from due dates.
  • Please follow the original instructions, with the exception of physically submitting a copy of it in class.
  • Assignments and essays will be considered late if you do not follow these instructions.


If I am late: You are required to wait until 9:30. If I am not in the room by then, you may leave.

Technology policies:

  • You are required to have access to and use the Internet, SCSU email, BB9, a color printer, stapler, and Hoot Loot card.
  • Print in color unless otherwise instructed. There are 2 color printers in Buley. Both also staple.
  • Check your SCSU email and BB9 course account daily.
  • Save your BB9 submission receipts in case my records show that you did not electronically submit an assignment.
  • You are required to back up your coursework every week in case your technology malfunctions so that you have a copy of, and access to, your coursework at all times.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to submit assignments to BB9.
  • Technology problems on your part are not acceptable excuses on my part
  • Plan ahead: It is your responsibility to be able to print and staple hard copies of your assignments, and to upload them to BB9.
  • There are printers and computers in the library and other places on campus. Get to know them.
  • Get your own stapler—I don’t bring one to class. Do NOT ask for a stapler at the reference desk.

It is your responsibility to learn how to use any technology you choose to use for completing assignments.


Classroom technology policies:

  • Turn off all electronic devices and put them out of sight before class begins.
  • Cell phones, laptops, smartwatches, and other electronic devices are not allowed in class unless otherwise announced. ( There will be times when you need to use the internet as part of in-class activities but I will announce it in advance.)
  • If you have an emergency that necessitates you having your phone on, tell me before class, set the phone to vibrate, sit in the back of the room, quietly exit the classroom when the call comes in and quietly return to class after taking the call.
  • You are required to take off and remove headphones from view before entering the classroom.
  • You are required to bring smartphone to class if you are not bringing a laptop or tablet to class because you will need to access the Internet periodically.

 Charging Electronic Devices

You cannot charge electronic devices in the classroom–please plan ahead.

Consequences for Violating Policy

You will be asked to leave class and will earn an absence for that class meeting if you violate the above policies.


Classroom etiquette policies:

In addition to everything else in this syllabus: Treat others with respect, do not disrupt the class, refrain from shouting, using profanity, and name-calling. In general, conduct yourself like an adult. This classroom is our workplace, be professional.

If any of the following pose a problem for you, this is not the class for you.

  • Be on time. We start at 9:10.
  • Have your phone, laptop, and other electronic devices turned off and stowed before you enter the room
  • If you choose to use any of the above during class, except when instructed to do so, you will be asked to leave the room and be marked absent for the day.
  • Do not leave the room and return. Get your coffee, visit the rest room, answer your texts, etc. before you get to class.
  • Do not wander around the room unless we’re engaged in a group activity.
  • Do not chat with others while someone else is speaking or watching video.
  • Do not sleep in class.


Repeated infractions will result in a lower grade, and may result in the suggestion that your drop the course and take it at another time with another instructor or take an F grade.c Serious issues will be reported to the Office of Student Affairs.

Student Conduct:

Code violations are taken very seriously by the University and may result in a recommendation of dismissal from the course, department, and/or SCSU. For further information please visit:



Southern Connecticut State University provides reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, for students with documented disabilities on an individualized basis. If you are a student with a documented disability, the University’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) can work with you to determine appropriate accommodations. Before you receive accommodations in this class, you will need to make an appointment with the DRC, which is located at EN C-105A, (203) 392-6828,


To discuss your approved accommodations or other concerns, such as medical emergencies or arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment to meet with me as soon as possible


Academic dishonesty:

Academic misconduct includes all forms of cheating and plagiarism. Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to, providing or receiving assistance from another, in a manner not authorized by the instructor, in the creation of work to be submitted for academic evaluation (including papers, projects and examinations).  Plagiarism is defined as presenting, as one's own, the ideas or words of another person, for academic evaluation, without proper acknowledgment.  Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to: (i) copying sentences, phrases, paragraphs, tables, figures, or data directly or in slightly modified form from a book, article, or other academic source without using quotation marks or giving proper acknowledgment to the original author or source; (ii) copying information from Internet Web sites and submitting it as one's own work; (iii) buying papers for the purpose of turning them in as one's own work; and (iv) selling or lending papers to another person for submission by that other person, for academic evaluation, as his or her own work.

Policies and penalties for committing academic misconduct may be found here:

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