Application Exercises

Chapter specific application exercises will help you think about research design in practice or have you explore a relevant resource.

Exercise 1: Finding Research Questions

This chapter begins with interactions among students in a campus coffee bar. Based on these interactions, comments from “ASA” and your reading of this chapter, identify as many research questions as you can about human communication behavior. Think freely and broadly. No question is irrelevant at this stage of your thinking, and one may well be the spark that ignites a long-term research interest for you.

Exercise 2: Exploring Communication Interest Areas

One way to develop your own interests is to go to two of the major communication research associations—the National Communication Association (NCA) and the International Communication Association (ICA), listed in this chapter’s recommended web resources. At the NCA site, on the “About” menu, look for “What is Communication?” At the ICA site, look for “Divisions & Interest Groups.” In both cases, you will find a list of the specific interest groups for each association. The interest areas that overlap will give you a sense of the “mainstream” interest areas, and either list may spark your interest in an area that perhaps you were not previously aware of.

Exercise 3: The Internet and American Life

Access the website for the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, listed below under “Recommended Web Resources”. Locate a March 2018 survey report titled Social Media Use in 2018. At the report site you will find the full report, the questionnaire and the data from which the report was compiled. From the questionnaire select two questions that interest you, ask the same questions of 10 people you know, convert your answers into percentages and compare your results with the Pew Center results. For example, questions 1 and 2 in the survey ask respondents which social media they use and the frequency of use of those media. The third question asks respondents how difficult it would be to give up their televisions, smart phones, Internet and social media.

Do your results differ from those reported by the Pew Center? If so, how? Why do you think your results differ? What might you do to improve the credibility of your results?

Exercise 4: Improving the Effectiveness of Health and Safety Messages

The Ad Council reports that its “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign began in 1983 and that alcohol-related traffic fatalities dropped to an all-time low in 1998, after which they began to rise again.

From a communication perspective, what research would you suggest would be needed to establish with confidence a relationship between anti-drunk driving campaigns and alcohol-related traffic statistics?

The Ad Council’s strategy as of 2017, re “buzzed driving”, is to prompt viewers to examine their own warning signs of impairment and take responsibility for their decisions behind the wheel. The focus shifts from “friends” to the driver, with the tagline “Probably Okay isn’t Okay” intended to plant a seed of doubt and to remind drivers to find a safe way home if they’ve been drinking.

What research might you do to find out how likely this message strategy is to work? What alternate message strategies might be more effective?

For both questions you can get additional information at: