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COMM 176: Intercultural Communication

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COMM 176: Intercultural Communication

Taught by: Rebecca Wolniewicz, Ph.D.

To contact Rebecca, click on the "Contact" button above.

For a printable copy of this syllabus, please click the image of a syllabus at the left.


Course Description and Objectives:

This course provides an introduction to communication between people from different cultures. Course content focuses on the application of theory and research to intercultural communication. Specifically, this course is designed to do the following:

Increase understanding of the relationship between culture and communication;
Provide an intellectual framework that allows description and understanding of communication between culturally heterogeneous individuals;
Explain the role of cultural patterns, verbal codes, and nonverbal codes in the development of intercultural interpersonal relationships;
Describe obstacles to competent intercultural communication;
Develop communication skills that improve competence in intercultural communication.

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

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Identify and apply terminology, concepts and theoretical constructs of intercultural communication to a variety of intercultural contexts.

Examine the connection between culture and communication.

Identify and describe the role of ethnocentrism in communication, and analyze how cultural identity and cultural bias influence communication.

Examine and observe major U.S. and non-U.S. cultural patterns that influence human communication, and analyze prominent intercultural value theory.

Examine how context influences communication and discern differences between high-context and low-context orientations toward communication.

Investigate and examine aspects of communication that influence intercultural interactions.

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middle east negogiations

Identify and describe the skills necessary for the maintenance of intercultural relationships on formal, informal, and personal levels.

Recognize communicative behaviors that lead to intercultural communication conflict and apply strategies to avoid and/or manage intercultural communication conflict as it arises.

Describe and apply the skills necessary for communicating competently in a variety of intercultural contexts.

Describe and apply the skills necessary for cultural adaptation and coping with culture shock.

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Student Learning Outcomes:

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In intercultural communication contexts, students will be able to recognize communication behaviors that lead to conflict and apply strategies to avoid and manage conflict when it occurs.

After researching and analyzing the communication practices of a culture, students will be able to communicate ideas in ways that are considered clear and appropriate by people of that culture.

Required Materials:


Lustig, Myron W., and Jolene Koester. Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures, 6th ed. New York: Pearson, 2009.

course textbook

This textbook is available through the SWC Bookstore. You may also choose to look for this textbook elsewhere (e.g., Otay Books, Half.com, or Amazon.com and used bookstores near San Diego State University).

An electronic version of this textbook is available through the publisher at http://www.coursesmart.com. Use ISBN: 9780205653072 to locate it.

It is important that you purchase the 6th edition of the textbook. Earlier editions of the textbook contain substantial differences from the current one. Also, all tests will be based on information in the 6th edition.

Reliable Computer and Internet Access:

Regular access to a reliable Internet service (i.e., one that will not "cut-out" on you) is essential.

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Your exams will be taken online and you must complete them in an uninterrupted fashion and within a designated time period.

Assignments must be submitted on time and an unreliable computer and/or internet access might make this unnecessarily frustrating for you.

For the most reliable access to Blackboard, use Firefox or Google Chrome when accessing the site. Both are free to download and use.

A Valid Email Address:

You must place your current email address in the Southwestern College WEBADVISOR and BLACKBOARD systems in order to receive email notices from your professor.

You are responsible for any information that you do or do not receive . Please "left click" on the "e-mail sign" off to the left to only go to the Southwestern College WebAdvisor page.

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A Program and Ability to Save Files in .pdf Format:

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You are required to submit all papers in this course in .pdf format and submit them through Blackboard (Bb). An ability to save files in .pdf is available through Microsoft Word. If .pdf is not an option through your version of Microsoft Word, you can visit the Official Microsoft website and download a .pdf add-on for free.

If you do not use Microsoft Word, there are a variety of word processing programs that offer a similar option. For instance, Apple iWork offers .pdf as an option for saving files.

It is your responsibility to learn how to save your papers in .pdf format before the first paper is due.

Course Format:

Content Arrangement:

There are 12 chapters in your textbook. The chapters are organized into four sections or "Parts." The sections are organized as follows:

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Part 1: Communication and Intercultural Competence (Chapters 1-3)

Part 2: Cultural Differences in Communication (Chapters 4-6)

Part 3: Coding Intercultural Communication (Chapters 7-9)

Part 4: Communication in Intercultural Relationships (Chapters 10-12)

We will cover 1 chapter per week. At the end of each chapter, students will be tested on the material.

At the end of each "part" in the textbook, students are required to turn in a paper.

While course material tends to lean towards the theoretical, course assignments and discussions are designed for practical application of course concepts to your everyday encounters.

Class exercises include assigned readings, online exams, participation in online discussions, papers, and the review of intercultural incidents. Student participation in the online Discussion Board is essential to learning course material.

You are expected to be a participant in class. If you do not understand an idea, theory, or assignment, please ask for clarification.

If you do not want to raise a question on an open Discussion Board, please send a message to my email address or contact me during my office hours (through a phone call, Skype or by just stopping my office.

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Content Delivery:

This course is delivered completely online. Rather than meeting each week in a traditional classroom, all of your work will be completed through the Blackboard (Bb) course management system. There are no face-to-face meetings for this class.


While online courses allow students greater flexibility regarding course meetings and test-taking, this flexibility has its challenges. Online courses may force students to assume greater responsibility for their learning than they are used to.

Without regularly scheduled meeting times, students must be disciplined enough to login to this class many times a week, completing course work independently.

To be successful in this online course, students must have:

An ability to learn course material primarily through reading the textbook;

The discipline to login to the course several times a week and complete all assignments in a timely manner;

Knowledge of the Blackboard (Bb) system and how to maneuver it (including turning in assignments and taking tests online);

Competence using Internet browsers (e.g., Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari) to surf the web;

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image of a female student at a computer

Excellent writing skills;

Strong typing skills or the ability to use voice activated software;

The ability to meet strict deadlines;

Fluency in both writing and reading in the English language;

A willingness to interact with students in a collegial, online atmosphere;

Ultimately, students taking an online course should be self-motivated, highly organized, and punctual. If you feel you are lacking skills or abilities in any of these areas, you may want to reconsider taking an online course.


Chapter Guides:

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To aid student comprehension of the textbook, I have created a reading guide for each chapter. Guides are intended to lead students through each reading while highlighting important information, increasing comprehension, and aiding student memory.

It is highly recommended that you read each chapter and complete its corresponding guide early in the week before attempting to take a quiz or participate on the Discussion Board.

Chapter guides are intended for personal use only. They are not to be turned in to the instructor.


There are four papers in this course:

Paper 1 is worth 50 points

Paper 2 is worth 50 points

Paper 3 is worth 100 points

Paper 4 is worth 100 points

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For information about the content and guidelines for these four papers (including when and how to submit them) click the button above labeled "Assignments."


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There is a 20 point exam at the end of each chapter. Exams are comprised of True-False and Multiple Choice Questions.

All exams are timed. You will be given 60 minutes to complete each exam.

Students will lose one point for each minute they spend on the exam past 60. For example, if you earn 20 points on an exam, but go 2 minutes over the time limit, you will receive 18 points.

There are 12 exams in this course. The exam with the lowest score will be dropped from your final grade.

Exams can be found by clicking on the "Exams" button to the left on the menu bar on our main Blackboard (Bb page).

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If you do not complete an exam before the stated deadline, you will not be given an opportunity to make it up.

Exams are on "force quit." This means that if you close the window for any reason or use the "back" button in your Internet Browser, you will be logged off of the exam. Once logged off, you will not be allowed to return to finish it.

Click on the "Exams" button on our main Bb page to access all exams/tests listed below.

The Pre-Test is worth 10 points. To earn all 10 points, you must answer the question and justify your answer in paragraph form.

The Syllabus Quiz is worth 10 points. Click the button on our main Blackboard (Bb) page labeled "Exams" for access to this quiz.

An Online Exam is due at the end of each chapter. These exams are 20 questions in length and include both True/False and Multiple Choice questions.

The Post-Test is worth 10 points. You can earn up to 10 points for completing the test. To earn all 10 points, you must answer the question and justify your answer in paragraph form.

The Final Exam is cumulative. This means it will contain questions from every chapter in the textbook. This exam is 100 questions in length and worth 200 points.

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One side-note about tests -- they are generated randomly. Test items are pulled from a large question pool. No two quizzes will have the same questions or the same arrangement. For each individual test, the computer randomizes questions and their possible answers to foil attempts at group testing (students taking online tests at the same time, side-by-side, sharing answers).

Discussion Board Posts:

Each week you are expected to participate on the Discussion Board. There are two types of posts in this course. The first is an "Original Post" and the second is a "Reply Post."

All Original Posts are due no later than Wednesday at midnight each week.

All Reply Posts are due no later than Sunday at midnight each week.

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You can earn up to 20 points a week for posting on the Discussion Board. "Original Posts" are worth 10 points each. "Reply posts" are worth 5 points each. Regardless of the number of posts submitted, only one Original Post and two Reply Posts can earn points.

To earn full credit for a post, it must follow the guidelines for posts. Beyond proper content, a post must also be free of errors in spelling, grammar, logic, and organization. Specific guidelines for posting comments on the Discussion Board can be accessed by clicking the "Disc. Board" button above.

Make-Up Policy:

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The Syllabus Quiz, Exams/Tests, Discussion Board Posts, Papers, and other assignments are to be completed and received by the deadline assigned.

NO LATE EXAMS will be given. These policies are strictly followed in an effort to treat all students fairly. Once a deadline has passed you may not make-up any assignment.


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Grades for exams and assignments will be available online. You will be able to access your grades by going to " My Grades" on our main Bb page.

For this and other classes, I highly recommend that you keep track of your grade as the semester progresses.

IMPORTANT: When viewing your grades under "My Grades" there is a column titled "Total Points." This column displays your total points earned to date for the course.



Points Possible

Syllabus Quiz

1 Quiz worth 10 points



1 Test worth 10 points


Online Exams

12 exams worth 20 points each


Discussion Board
Original Posts
13 Original Posts worth 10 points each
(lowest week's DB score dropped from final grade)


Discussion Board
Reply Posts
24 Reply Posts worth 5 points each
(lowest week's DB score dropped from final grade)



4 Papers
(2 at 50 points, 2 at 100 points)


Final Exam

1 Final Exam worth 200 points



1 Post-Test worth 10 points


Total Points Possible


*Final Course Grade: Your final grade will be based on the total points earned in this course (and will not be curved).


Raw Score



900 - 1000

90% -100%


800 - 899

80% - 89%


700 - 799

70% - 79%


600 - 699

60% - 69%


599 or lower

59% or lower

Course Rules:

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Online Skills:

As an online student, it is your responsibility to learn and understand how the maneuver through this course and the Blackboard (Bb) system.

You must also be proficient in using browsers, a word processing program (e.g., Microsoft Word or Apple Pages), and how to save documents in different formats. For instance, in order to submit papers for a grade, they must be saved as .pdf documents.

Lack of proficiency in any of the categories above is not an excuse for missed assignments. If you miss an assignment because you didn't understand how to use the proper technology, you will not be allowed to turn it in for a grade.

Cheating & Plagiarism:

Academic dishonesty of any type by a student provides grounds for disciplinary action by the instructor or the college. In written work, no material may be copied from another without proper quotation marks, footnotes, or appropriate documentation. All violations and suspected violations of academic honesty will be documented in writing and sent to the Dean of Student Activities and/or the Dean of the School of Arts and Communication. Punishment for academic dishonesty may include no-credit on the assignment in question, academic probation, or course failure.

Examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

Cutting and pasting from articles or online material into discussion boards without using quotation marks and appropriate citation

Copying answers from another student or allowing another student to copy your work

Using work from previous semesters without permission

Allowing dishonest acts or behaviors to go unreported

Copying from a book, a magazine, the Internet or a brochure when writing a paper or completing homework assignments (without properly giving credit to the source)

Copying another student's work, even on a Discussion Board is cheating

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Class participation will make this course more rich and enjoyable, and is expected. In our virtual classroom, students are expected to behave with respect toward their instructors and fellow students.

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Examples of disruptive/disrespectful behavior include:

posting obscene material to the Discussion Board;
hazing other students; and,
making derogatory remarks degrading a person's gender, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disabled status.

The professor retains the right to remove anyone from the course who is being disruptive/disrespectful. In extreme cases, a student may be dropped from the course.

Please note that it is not SWC's intention to limit students' free expression. These rules are in place to ensure a safe and collegial class space for all students.


Perhaps consider bold letters or underlining when you want to emphasize a particular point.

For more information, click on this "Netiquette" link for more information, refer the SWC Catalog or SWC Student Handbook .

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Campus Services:

Disabled Student Services:

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Southwestern College recommends that students with disabilities who may need academic accommodations should discuss their options with me during the first two (2) weeks of the course.

If you suspect that you may have a learning disability or need accommodations, students need to contact DSS in person at the Cesar Chavez Student Support Center (Office S108), or by phone at 619-482-6512 (Voice) or 619-482-6470 (TTY for Deaf).

An alternate form of this syllabus and other class handouts are available upon request. Accommodations and services may also include:

  • Disability counseling
  • Priority registration
  • Testing for learning disabilities/or speech and language disabilities
  • Note taking assistance
  • Extended time on tests/assignments Sign language interpreters
  • Equipment loan High Tech Center Special classes

Academic Success Center:

To further your success, reinforce concepts, and achieve the stated learning objectives for this course, I refer you to the Academic Success Center (ASC) learning assistance services.

Upon request for tutorial services, you will be automatically enrolled in NC3: Supervised Tutoring, a free noncredit course that does not appear on your transcripts.

Services are located in the ASC (420), the Writing Center (420D), the Reading Center (420), Math Center (426), the Library/LRC Interdisciplinary Tutoring Lab, MESA, specialized on-campus School, tutoring labs, the Higher Education Center, and the San Ysidro Education Center.

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Online learning materials and Online Writing Lab (OWL) are available at www.swccd.edu/~asc. Visit the OWL for tutoring that focuses on improving your writing skills.