SPHSC 308 Social-Cultural Aspects of Communication

Syllabus Winter 2010

Student Objectives
Major Lecture Topics
308 Home
Speech and Hearing Sciences SPHSC 308, Winter 2010
Social Cultural Aspects of Communication

General Course Information

Class Meeting: Monday and Wednesday, 2:00-3:30 in EGL 001

Instructor:  Lesley B. Olswang, Ph.D. (EGL 162)                 

Office hours: Monday 3:30-4:30; Thursday 2:00-3:00

Email: lolswang@u.washington.edu

Teaching Assistant: Michael Burns

Office hours:  By appointment

Email:  mburns@u.washington.edu

Course Website:  http://faculty.washington.edu/lolswang/html/308index.html

Course description


  1. What is communication? How are communication and communication disabilities influenced by context?
    1. Definition of Communication - Form, Content and Use
    2. Definition of Context: Situational, Social, Cultural Context
  2.  Situational Context:  Immediate Environment -   Ethnography/Observation
  3. Social Context:  Interpersonal Relations - Systems Theory  - Phenomenology/Interviewing 
  4. Cultural Context: Culture and Cultural Practices; Cultural Development
  5. Application -- Situational, Social, Cultural Context Revisited
    1. Disabilities - World Health Organization (WHO) International Perspective

Teaching Strategies to Accommodate Individual Learning Styles

This course will explore context (situational, social and cultural) as it influences communication and living with disabilities. I will use readings, lectures, experiential learning activities (including discussions), two major writing assignments and a final examination to cover the material.  The course focuses on thinking about topics, analyzing and synthesizing ideas, reflecting on issues as they have impacted you, might impact you, or impact others. The readings are meant to supplement the lectures.  The lectures will be designed to impart new information to you. The experiential learning activities, which will occur within and outside of class, will require you to apply the new information as you observe or experience some aspect of communication that is influenced by context. These learning activities are designed to introduce content, provide practice in writing, and facilitate your participation in class discussions.

The two major writing assignments are designed to assist you in learning course content, while at the same time developing your professional writing skills. This is a W-course, so a significant portion of your grade will be based on your writing. You may find that you are asked to write a little differently than you have before; this may reflect the focus on rules for professional/scientific writing. The emphasis will be on writing clearly, using facts and thorough descriptions (and examples) to illustrate your knowledge.  The course TA is available to assist in working on the writing assignments.  Please see this link regarding utilizing TA help:  TA Information.  Finally, the course has a final examination, which will be a mixture of multiple choice, matching, true-false, and short answer questions.During this course, we may cover some topics that make you feel uncomfortable at times; these topics concern difficult issues that we face as communicators and as individuals interested in health and education professions. We will often have discussions about topics for which there are no right answers; I hope you will feel free to share your ideas and impressions, while being considerate of others' opinions.


The following schedule is an estimate; it will no doubt vary to some degree. If I make changes to the schedule, I will post the changes IN RED. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE WEB SITE FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE SCHEDULE AND INFORMATION ABOUT ASSIGNMENTS. 

All of the readings for the class are listed according to content and the dates by which they are to be read. Readings consist of articles, internet materials, and a book; items marked with an * are required. The articles are available at Odegaard Undergraduate Library on electronic reserve.  Just go to the UW Libraries Web page http://www.lib.washington.edu/ and click on Course Reserves to find the course readings.  

The book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, is available at the UW Bookstore. Class discussions will be based on the readings; you need to come to class prepared to participate. The course schedule, provided below, indicates the dates the readings and experiential learning activities are due; it indicates the dates the written assignment will be assigned and explained, and when they are due.  NOTE: I will verify the dates on these. ALSO NOTE: some of the experiential learning activities require you prepare material prior to class. Full descriptions of activities and written assignments are provided on the Web site under Assignments.  On the Web site you will also find criteria for grading writing and power point presentations (See Major Lecture Topics).   It is your responsibility to get this material off of the web.  

Course Schedule (Readings, Activities, Assignments)

* Required reading







Overview of Course
Definition of Communication

Definition of Context (Situational, Social, Cultural)



Situational Context – Role of Observation

* Stone-Goldman, J. & Olswang, L. (2003).  Learning to look, learning to see: using ethnography to develop cultural sensitivity. ASHA Leader, 8(5), pp. 6-7, 14-15.





Learning to Observe

Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S. (1992). Qualitative data (Chapter 4, pp. 106-128). Qualitative research for education: an introduction to theory and methods. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.





Situational Context – Observation Application

Experiential Learning Activity #1 – Situational Context/Observation


BRING Exp Learning Act #1



Martin Luther King Day – NO CLASS




Social Context:  Interpersonal Relationships – Systems Theory

*Donahue-Kilburg, G. (1992). Family-centered early intervention for communication disorders (Chapter 1: The Family Context). Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers



BRING Assignment Description: Systems Paper



Social Context:  Interpersonal Relationships – Systems Theory – Interviewing, continued

*Yorkston, K., Klasner, E., & Swanson, K. (2001). Communication in context: a qualitative study of the experiences of individuals with multiple sclerosis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 10, 126-137. 





Social Context:  Systems Theory continued

* The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Ch. 1-8

Experiential Learning Activity #2 – Application Systems Theory

DUE Exp Learning Act #2



Social Context continued: Systems Theory

DUE Systems paper draft


Cultural Context - Definition of Culture, Cultural Practices

Experiential Learning Activity #3 -- Definition of Culture



DUE Exp Learning Act #3



Cultural Context:  Cultural Practices and Cultural Change

* Rodriguez, B., & Olswang, L. (2002). Cultural diversity is more than group differences: an example from the Mexican American community. Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, 29, 154-164. 


DUE Systems paper final

BRING Assignment Description: Culture Paper


Cultural Context:  Deafness as a Culture --  Lance Forshay, ASL Lecturer & Program Coordinator, Linguistics, University of Washington

* Raymond, M. (Spring, 2001). A silent culture with a strong voice.  Bostonia. (Distributed in class)





President's Day – NO CLASS




Cultural Context:  Development

* Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking. (Chapter 1: Cognitive development and sociocultural context). Oxford: Oxford University Press.  






Cultural Context – Finish

* The Spirit Catches You… - Ch 1-17

Experiential Learning Activity #4 – Cultural Practices



DUE Exp Learning Act. #4


Disabilities - International Perspective - World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

Read these webpages, as well as whatever else on these sites you would like to more fully understand WHO & ICF 

* WHO | World Health Organization About WHO, Countries.

* WHO | International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)  --  The ICF Home Page, Beginners Guide (including domains, environmental factors)






Culturally Responsive Health Care

* Anderson, J., Kirkham, S., Waxler-Morrison, N., Herbert, C., Murphy, M., & Richardson, E. (2005).  Delivering culturally responsive health care.  In N. Waxler-Morrison, J. Anderson, E. Richardson, & N. Chambers (eds.), Cross-cultural caring (pp. 323-352).  Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. 

In-Class Discussion of Culture Paper




DUE Culture Paper


Disabilities - Culturally Responsive Health Care

* Review Yorkston, Klasner & Swanson (2001) -- WHO Model, Interviewing

* www.ethnomed.org -- poke around this Web site

Experiential Learning Activity #5 – Scenarios



BRING Exp Learning Act. #5




Application:  Disabilities 

Experiential Learning Activity #5 – discussion in class


Due Exp Learning Act. #5



Finish Application and Review for Examination




3/15 Mon.

Final Examination 2:30-4:20




Course Grading

Grading - Total Points 200

Five experiential learning activities *               35
(#1,3,5 = 5 points; #2,4 = 10 points)

Systems paper **                                               50

Culture paper and presentation                        50

Final exam                                                          65 

TOTAL                                                                200

 * Typically if you thoroughly, accurately, neatly complete the activities, you will receive all of the points. Class participation can boost your grade.

** Students may revise the Systems paper if desired.  Guidelines for revision are provided under the Assignments link.

Rough Estimation of Point-Grade Equivalency – the final decision will be dependent upon actual points earned in the class. The points and grades are presented here as a general guide. 

Points           percentage         grade point

189-210          90 – 100%           3.6 - 4.0
168-188          80 – 89%             3.0 - 3.5
147-167          70 – 79%             2.4 - 2.9
126-146          60 – 69%             1.8 - 2.3
105-125          50 – 59%             1.2 - 1.7
  84-104          40 – 49%             0.7 - 1.1

Due Dates/Late Assignments The written assignments must be handed in on time. If you will be late, you must let me know prior to the due date; otherwise, 1 point will be deducted from the assignment for each week day it is late. Experiential activities are due and completed on their assigned date.  However, if you must miss an activity, sometimes they can be made up; you should see me about this. The examination must be taken on the date assigned.   IN GENERAL, IF YOU ARE ILL, DO NOT COME TO CLASS.  Please spare all of us contagious diseases.  Thank you! 

Other Information

Classroom Etiquette

If you use a computer in the classroom, please be mindful of others.  Of course, computer use is for note-taking.  Phones should be off and put away during class.  NO TEXTING DURING CLASS!


To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Resources for Student (DRSO) – washington.edu/students/drs 448 Schmitz 543-8924 (Voice), 543-8925 (TTY), email uwdss@u.washington.edu.  If you have a letter from DRSO indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodation, please present it to us so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in this class.

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