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Speech assignment on interpersonal comm

I had a hybrid class with a mix of public speaking and interpersonal communication. The public speaking part of the class ended with a group presentation worth 20% of the final grade. On occasion, a student would have a legitimate excuse for missing their group’s presentation (such as a car accident on the way to class). In those instances, I would offer this makeup assignment.

This assignment still required a class presentation but also helped to offer a student’s perspective to the class during the interpersonal comm unit, which I placed at the end of the semester.

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Written assignment for interpersonal comm: facework

This is a brief written assignment I’ve used to encourage students to find examples of facework:

Find and describe one example from a “non-scripted” TV show or online video where someone makes a face-saving move to attempt to avoid embarrassment. “Non-scripted” refers to a video where the participants are not following a set script and errors would not be edited out, such as reality television or a live news report. Describe why the face-saving was necessary (what threatened their face), how the person attempted to save face, and whether you feel the face-saving move was effective.

Video for interpersonal comm: Changing face

Simpsons: Season 7, episode 17

This episode features a couple of great scenes that show changing face. Mr. Smithers takes a vacation, leaving Homer to tend to Mr. Burns’ needs.

Under the pressure of Burns’ unreasonable demands (including a very funny scene shown in picture), Homer snaps and punches Burns. But rather than be angry, Mr. Burns undergoes a dramatic change and becomes self-reliant.

Several short scenes can be edited together to show this change in just a few minutes of class time. It would be a great lead-off to a discussion about changing face.

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki. Find an episode description here.

Video for interpersonal comm: Roles

‘The Simpsons’: Season 6, episode 23

A lot of interesting things happen with regard to roles in this episode. Marge becomes a police officer. Homer assumes this means that he can break the law without consequence. This creates several scenes of conflict until Marge is forced to arrest him.

The role competence is particularly interesting as Marge wrestles with the conflicting goals of her roles as wife and police officer. The fact that he challenges her authority publicly is also a factor, as we see that Marge would likely react differently if there was not an audience.

I used the scenes starting with the poker game up to when she arrests him at the Kwik-E-Mart.

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki. Link to episode description:

Video for interpersonal comm: facework

Video for interpersonal comm: facework

This brief YouTube video of a reporter covering a sled race is a great example to pair with facework. The reporter immediately goes to making face-saving moves including humor and trying to resume the broadcast as normal.

Example for interpersonal communication: facework

Link to story

A Kaplan study shows that 38% of teens admit to ignoring friend requests from their parents on facebook. This statistic is a nice way to introduce the subject of facework.

Example for interpersonal communication: facework

Link to story

A British study found that 40% of people who do not normally wear glasses said they already do or have considered wearing glasses to a job interview because they think it will help them get the job. This statistic is a nice way to introduce the subject of facework and begin a discussion of the ethical implications.

No man, for any considera…

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, novelist

Video for interpersonal comm: self-competence or facework

Information about episode

Simpsons: Season 7, episode 25

This is a strong episode of the Simpsons called “The Summer of 4 foot 2.” When I’ve had time, I’ve shared this entire episode with the students — it has so much in it about interpersonal communication. Normally, however, I break it into two clips:

  • In the first clip, Lisa tries to remake her identity while on a vacation for the summer at a beach house. She was upset that she did not have a close friend to invite on the trip and determines to make friends. Lisa makes her mother buy her new clothing. The clip starts when she meets a couple of kids on the beach. When they fail to respond to her normal way of talking, she begins using slang and expressing interest in “slacker” activities. The kids begin to respond to her. Bart, however, feels these friends are better suited to him and tries to interfere to take them away. His initial attempt fails, leaving him more upset.

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