S1: Credibility Assessment
COMS 195-03 | Fall 2016 | Jonathan Hunt
In class, Tuesday September 6
Purpose: This speaking assignment asks you to apply course concepts to real-world situations.
In class and in the assigned readings, we’ve studied a number of different models of credibility in human communication. The goal of this assignment is to apply what you’ve learned: you’ll analyze and assess credibility. This is one of the most important skills in human communication.
A successful presentation will show very strong knowledge of concepts, ideas, and claims discussed in class and in readings. This means that you should discuss specific ideas, claims, or arguments from the readings.
But it isn’t enough merely to summarize readings. A successful S1 presentation will also demonstrate an ability to apply course content to new contexts. By discussing and evaluating the credibility in a real-world situation, you will show that you can use course material to understand the world around us and the humans in it.
Topic — as always, you should try to develop a topic that is interesting and valuable to you. You can choose to focus on:
- a person (a writer, speaker, athlete, scientist, politician, activist… anyone)
- an institution (a company or brand, a non-profit, a government agency, a club or team…)
- an object (a particular bicycle or accessory such as a helmet, a drug-testing procedure…)
In a short presentation, it’s probably best to focus on a specific idea (for example, goodwill in community policing)—rather than trying to cover all aspects of credibility.
Ingredients (the first three are essential; the fourth is optional):
1. Some information about the person, institution, or object you would like to discuss. You are the only one in this class who has studied this topic, so you need to give us enough information about it so we can understand your argument.
2. A discussion of credibility, drawing on sources provided in class (Horner, Tseng & Fogg). In any important communication, it’s necessary to define key terms or concepts. It is a mistake to assume that your audience shares your definition of a specific word or idea.
Example: in this excerpt from Tseng and Fogg’s report on credibility research, they begin with a basic definition (right), then add some history and complexity to the definition.
3. Your own assessment of the credibility of the person or object of your analysis—remember, credibility is always a relationship to an audience. You should show awareness of how different audiences might react to this book. You should build your case with specific examples and evidence from the book itself and from our course texts.
4. OPTIONAL: you can also refer to news reports, books, articles, or other “outside” information
Format and Logistics:
- Length: ~3 minutes
- Visual aids or slider optional (email me if you want to use the projector)
- Sources: use course readings as sources (where appropriate); other sources optional
- This project requires four to five blog posts:
a “write-out” — a draft of what you plan to say. It should be about 400 words
2 rehearsal videos (3 if you would like to get an A)
a reflection/ self-assessment (posted after your talk)