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Course Learning Outcomes
Course Materials

Course Introduction

This course is designed to explore the impact of media on institutions and individuals within modern society. Students will explore media effects literature and relevant effects theories and examine what the literature tells us about media (print, broadcast, online) influences on women, children, adolescents, and families. Students will do this by exploring issues such as identity development, socialization, crime, violence, substance abuse, sexual attitudes and behaviors, marginalization of minority groups, pathological health practices, and other antisocial behaviors.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

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Course Learning Outcomes

When you successfully complete this course, you should be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate critical and independent thinking related to the role of communication and society.
  2. Have a deeper theoretical understanding of the impact of media on social systems.

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Course Materials

Required Textbook

missing image Title: Media Effects Research: A Basic Overview
ISBN-13: 9781305077478
Author: Glenn G. Sparks
Edition: 5
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing
Published: January 2015


The 2013 fourth edition listed below is MUCH cheaper, and will still function for the readings in this class:

missing image Title: Media Effects Research: A Basic Overview
ISBN-13: 9781111344450
Author: Glenn G. Sparks
Edition: 4
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing
Published: January 2012

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After each lesson, you will complete a short computer-graded quiz that will check your basic knowledge of concepts and facts that were covered in the required reading assignments and lectures. There will be a total of 5 questions randomly selected from a pool of questions. The quizzes will account for 18% of your grade.

Reflection Paragraphs

There are a total of 9 reflection assignments, one for each lesson. They are designed to elevate your thinking about the lesson content and to get you to critically consider the impact of media in a variety of contexts.

Final Project

The final project is a 10-page report based on a rudimentary content analysis of the media of your choice. In plain English, this means that you are going to pick a series of TV episodes, a selection of movies—or perhaps even some video games or songs—and you are going to code the content (e.g., violence, sexual content, aggressive communication, and so on) that you find therein. Instead of waiting until the end of the class to begin working on the report, each lesson contains an ungraded final project milestone to help you meet the due date in lesson 9. The milestones are as follows:

Lesson 1: Read through the Final Project Description.
Lesson 2: Select a topic for the report.
Lesson 3: Determine the media that will be used and email the instructor for approval.
Lesson 4: Code a sample of the chosen media.
Lesson 5: Continue to code your chosen media.
Lesson 6: Continue coding the media you have selected.
Lesson 7: Finish coding and create an outline.
Lesson 8: Write a draft paper that includes finalized visuals and graphs.
Lesson 9: Submit the final paper.

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This course includes a proctored midterm exam that you will complete in lesson 4. The exam is comprehensive for lessons 1–4 and consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. If you have reviewed the course readings and lectures, you will have no problem passing the exam. The midterm exam will account for 20% of your final grade.

Final Exam

This course includes a proctored final exam. The final exam covers lessons 5–9 and consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. If you have reviewed the course readings and lectures, you will have no problem passing the exam. The final exam will account for 16% of your final grade.

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These items will count toward your course grade:

Assignment Amount Points Weight
Quizzes 9 180 18%
Reflection Responses 9 180 18%
Midterm 1 200 20%
Final Exam 1 160 16%
Final Project 1 280 28%
Total 21 1000 100%

Your course grade will be determined based on these percentages:

Grade Percent
A 100–93%
A− 92–90%
B+ 89–87%
B 86–83%
B− 82–80%
C+ 79–77%
C 76–73%
C− 72–70%
D+ 69–67%
D 66–63%
D− 62–60%
E (fail) 59% and below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


10 instructor-graded assignments; may not be resubmitted.


9 computer-graded quizzes and 2 proctored computer-graded exams; may not retake; open book and open notes; must pass the final exam with a 60% to earn credit for the course.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514