I figured it was about time I posted something on what I'm actually studying up here at the good old PSU. Here's a run down on my classes and the question circling endlessly in my head… am I quantitative or qualitative?
First of all, what the heck is Mass Comm anyway, right? Watch this video if you'd like. It is aimed at undergrads, so it does not really apply to what I'm doing/studying, but it will give you an overview of what the field is all about.
Issues in TV (Monday) – My favorite class this semester. We will be looking at tv as a communication genre through the qualitative (critical/cultural) research lens. Topics/issues we will cover: Political Economy of Television, Genre, Narrative and Flow, The Television Audience and Fandom, Advertising, Children’s Television, Adult Daytime TV, News, Primetime TV and Representation, Primetime TV and Reality, Globalization, and Digital Technology, and the Future of TV.
Colloquium (Tuesday) – Different faculty will attend each week to talk about their current research projects. This is both to educate us about what kinds of research are possible in the field and to recruit us to help them and join their research teams. This is especially important for me since my assistantship is in another division of the university, so I need both the awareness and the ability to get involved.
Quantitative Research Methods (Wednesday) – Well, this is the one I was so afraid of but I have to say I'm ok with it at this point. It is the introductory class in quantitative/empirical/scientific research methods and also a great feeder to getting published and presenting at conferences. The final project is to do a research project straight through from beginning to end. Last year's class had four small groups – three presented at national conferences, one present at a regional conference, and two won awards at the national conferences. Lofty goals, but the teacher is great and very supportive so we'll see. Topics we are covering: Conceptualization, Operationalization, Measurement, Realiability & Validity, Sampling, Survey Research, Experimental Research, Content Analysis, Descriptive Statistics, Inferential Statistics, Data Interpretation, Reporting Research.
Proseminar (Thursday) – Overview of the communication field from the quantitative research perspective – going back to greek philosophers all the way through current. Topics: Intellectual History, Research in the US, Current Themes, Analyzing Media Content and Media Audiences, Media Sociology and the Creation of Content, International Communication, Ethics, Legal Research, Media History, Media Technology, Social Change, and Democrary,
I am debating which of two tracks to pursue… I love the types of research done in the Media Effects Research Lab which is a quantitative/empirical track, but I think I may be more qualitative by nature. I'm thinking I may try to study the media (social networking, tv, etc) through a critical cultural lens (psychology/sociology/law/
(1) Media Effects (quantitative)
This research stream focuses on social and psychological effects of media messages and technologies upon individuals. Faculty research often takes a multi-disciplinary approach in applying theories of communication, psychology, marketing, and other social sciences to investigate the influences of media content and form on audience perceptions, attitudes, memories, emotions and behaviors. Research methods are primarily empirical, involving mostly experiments, surveys and content analyses.
(2) Critical Cultural (both qualitative and quantitative)
Does not have a nice concise blurb, so here's piecemeal…
This research draws on theories and research methods used in many academic disciplines, including anthropology, political science, communication arts and sciences, sociology, psychology, law, education, health and human development, and history. Examples of current faculty and graduate student research topics include: the study of how media industry structure and content production practices are related to the rise of civil society social institutions in transitional democracies; research on how news media frame political events and the consequences of this framing; critical analysis of how copyright laws have evolved to govern distribution of content via the Internet; and historical studies of media coverage of political issues.