Old Dominion University
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Thomas Socha

COMM-495/595: Positive Comm.

COMM/GEOG 695: Comm,Geog,& Food

COMM 601

COMM 624

COMM 302

COMM 427/527

Lifespan Comm

COMM 601

Lifespan Communication Theory and Research

A three-hour required course in the lifespan/digital communication MA degree.

This course takes a developmental approach to the study of communication by exploring the culminating effects of communication as it evolves across our lifetime.  Lifespan communication emphasizes the adaptive nature of human interaction across family, work, social, health, and spiritual domains.  It encompasses all phases of life from childhood throughout elder adulthood and all channels of communication from nonverbal, to face-to-face, and mediated. The theory and research focus will provide students with tools to investigate and appreciate the complexities of human communication at different life stages. Lifespan Communication Theory and Research provides a survey of the topics, concepts, theories and theorists concerned with human communication across the lifespan.

The course provides a survey of foundational and contemporary theories of lifespan communication. While the class will focus on communication, theories are also drawn broadly from influential disciplines such as social and developmental psychology, gerontology,  and human development.


As a starting point, the course will proceed from the following set of assumptions (Baltes, 1987)

1)      Positive development occurs throughout the lifespan

2)      Diversity and pluralism occur in the changes throughout life

3)      Development is best viewed as a gain-loss dynamic

4)      Inter-and intra-individual diversity exists as we progress through the lifespan

5)      A person-environment interaction cannot be ignored in our explanations of development (in addition to face to face human communication and nonverbal communication, this includes virtual, digital, and mediated environments).


Learning Objectives


The following objectives frame the content of the course and form the basis upon which student learning is assessed.  


1.       Demonstrate an understanding of classic and contemporary theories of human development as applied to communication

2.       Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of communication as a lifespan developmental process 

3.       Demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts, primary theories, and approaches to the study of  lifespan communication processes

4.       Demonstrate an understanding of theories of peer-group communication

5.       Demonstrate an understanding of theories of communication and aging

6.       Demonstrate an understanding of ways to facilitate positive lifespan communication development

7.       Demonstrate an awareness of connections between theories and concepts of lifespan communication and digital media

8.       Demonstrate an awareness of some of the key elements of successful socialization as a communication professional specializing in lifespan/digital communication