No page can fit every course or every faculty member, but this page offers course policies and rationale.  These guidelines are for communication faculty who decide they are appropriate for their courses, so read your professor's expectations. 

Your professor reserves the right to make course updates, changes, corrections, and adaptations to meet the needs of currently enrolled students and the present context. This option includes changes to course assignments, rubrics, due dates, weighting grades, grading scale, and more.

Dr. J. E. Aitken, Program Coordinator for Online BA Organizational Communication Major and Professor, Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations, and Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Program, Park University. Contact information is in  This page: 

CONTENTS THIS PAGE Academic Honesty - Academic Rigor - Advising - APA Style - Assignment Changes - AttendanceContact Info - Core Assessment (Late) - Course Access - Course Problems - Course InconsistenciesDiscussion Expectations - Due Date - eCollege Help - eCourse problems - Email - Font - Error Correction - Grading - Grading "Turn Around" TimeHigh Expectations - "Incomplete" Grade - Instructor's Office - Late Work  - Low Enrollment Sections - Mastery Learning - MyPark Problems - Nonverbal Meaning of Being Late - Online Course Problems - Proctored Final Exam - Revising Assignments - Submitting Assignments - Style Manual for Course - Test Grading - Textbook - Uploading Assignments in eCollege - Use Email Only - Writing Course


Access to Course
Your online course is operated in eCollege (a Pearson company).  Go directly to your eCollege course here:  Please do NOT operate your online course inside MyPark because the additional computer system adds additional operational problems. If there is an operational problem, contact eCollege, not your professor. Remember, the online course operates most effectively if you go directly to the eCollege page.

Online Course Problems Contact
If you have operational problems in your online course, telephone the helpdesk immediately:  877.740.2213.  Your online course is operated by eCollege (a Pearson company), so if there's a problem, please telephone eCollege. Your professor cannot do anything to fix it, nor can your professor verify your problem. If you contact eCollege, they can verify your problem and send documentation to your professor.  This verification is crucial if your assignment will be late because of system problems. More likely, eCollege technical support will walk you step by step through a solution.
Telephone 1-866-301-7275 or 877.740.2213. Recommended.
Chat  and select the "Chat" tab in upper right of screen.
Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Email usually takes several days, so telephone or chat for immediate results.

Sometimes the problem is your browser or computer: Try refreshing the page first, closing and reopening your browser program, and if that doesn't work, restart your computer. Sometimes the problem is that MyPark isn't working, which is why you need to access eCollege directly  The same goes for operating a webpage inside eCollege, which is cumbersome. At least "right click" so that you you have a new window, or better ye, cut and paste the URL to operate outside eCollege into your browser.  For effective operation, you want to be outside of MyPark or any additional or secondary computer system.

Remember, if you waited until the last minute to submit an assignment and have system operation problems, contact eCollege immediately for a fix AND ask them to send your excuse to your professor. Submit early and you won't have to worry about operational problems.

MyPark Problems Contact
If you have forgotten your Student ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email or call  1-800-927-3024. The helpdesk hours are 8-5 Central Time, Mon-Fri. If you are trying to access your online course and MyPark is not working, go to eCollege directly:  Just like WebPages operate better outside eCollege, eCollege operates better outside Park's systems.


Faculty Contact
Faculty contact information is usually in your syllabus and here

Please respect your professor and do not telephone outside regular business hours.

Proctor Required for All Undergraduate Students
According to Park University policy, undergraduate students (online) must take a proctored final exam or receive the automatic grade of "F" in the course. All undergraduate students in an online course are required to arrange an approved proctor by Friday of week 6. Please make your request by mid-term in the course.  As of 2014, University policy has recognized alternatives (e.g., Proctor, camera monitoring, new learning management options), so check with your professor regarding the requirements of your particular course.




Final deadline for assignments is Sunday weeks 1-7 or Friday week 8, in eCollege or eCompanion (e.g., Discussion board, journal, tests, dropbox).  Because students can add the online course week 2, students can still receive points for week 1 assignments if they submit everything by Sunday of week 2.  Last minute email and phone messages are not acceptable because students are expected to work out solutions in advance of due dates.  


Each online quiz, exam, or test is DUE FRIDAY.

If you have a problem with test operation, telephone eCollege, not your professor.  Because of the high traffic in eCollege on Sunday, complete your online test by Friday to make sure it operates and you meet the week's deadlines. Online tests are usually timed.  You can use course materials or notes for help, but not other people.  Tests are accepted only in the online format.  Objectives questions are graded automatically, and short answer and essays will be graded within one week of the final Sunday deadline. 


For weeks 2-8, all assignments need to be submitted on time.  All weekly discussion boards, testing, and materials close at 11:59 PM Friday or Sunday, as indicated in the course materials. 


If your professor allows revisions, no revisions or extra credit assignments are accepted after the weekly deadline or Wednesday of week 8.


Discussion board assignments due Friday.  Threads often indicate a day of the week when they are due.  Generally, your pre-reading discussion post is due Wednesday and a substantive post for each required thread is due Friday.  That will give you the weekend to respond to others and actually carry on discussion conversation.

For the dropbox, please submit a single electronic file, which is eCollege compatible. Be sure to put your last name in the file name. No assignments can be submitted after Friday, week 8. No late work or revised work can be submitted after Wednesday, Week 8. 


If there's a problem, submit your dropbox assignment as quickly as possible.  If there's an eCollege problem, telephone them and have them provide verification at the time of your problem.  Your professor may have many assignments to grade and may accept a dropbox assignment a few hours late on Monday, IF you received approval from your professor in advance of the due date and your assignment is there when he or she tries to grade the assignment. 

An intolerance for late work is based on these principles.
1. In fairness to all students, the same rules apply to everyone. Your professor doesn't make individual deals with some students that don't apply to other students.
2. Be fair to the professor's time management. Faculty need to be organized, respond to student assignments promptly, and manage their work schedule, so late assignments don't fit in your professor's schedule. In other words, for time management purposes, your professor grades the current work and does not expect to grade assignments past due or due in the future.
3. Being on time is essential to effective communication and leadership.
4. Being on time is an expectation in the workplace, and thus in class as preparation for communication success in the workplace.
5. In a monochronic culture like the US, a deadline means a deadline. See what research says about the nonverbal meaning of being late in the section called Nonverbal Meaning.

Submit Early
Discussion boards posts and each quiz, test, or exam are due Friday.  Submit early and you won't have to worry about storms and operational problems!  Park University has about 20,000 students, who all have a final Sunday evening deadline for the week. The result is submitting assignments Sunday in eCollege may work slowly or not at all if the system is overloaded or you have poor Internet service. 

Operational Problems
If you wait until the last minute to submit an assignment and have eCollege system operation problems, contact eCollege immediately for a fix AND tell them to send verification of your excuse to you (which you need to upload in the course Dropbox) or to your professor.

Solve Your Internet Problems
If your Internet access goes out, you have many options available.  You can walk to a neighbor's house, for example, and ask to use their Internet access. Or you can drive to or hire a taxi to go to McDonald's, another restaurant, public library, college campus library, or other Internet access. Assignments are not accepted by email, but you can use a cable to connect your computer to your phone and attach your assignment to a phone email to prove to your professor that your assignment is complete, then upload that assignment to eCollege as soon as possible (hopefully within hours).  Better yet, upload your assignment to the Backup Dropbox designed for such problem. 

Late Weekly Assignments Not Accepted
Weekly assignments, in-class or participation assignments, extra credit, and weekly tests cannot be submitted late because they are online or weekly learning activities. A student who fails to turn in a weekly assignment by the original deadline, can expect a zero.

Excused Late Assignments
Sometimes emergencies happen.  Excused time extensions require appropriate verification, such as a physician's excuse, funeral program, copy of an accident report, copy of deployment papers, verification from a supervisor, an email from eCollege or your Internet provider verifying when your service was down, or similar substantiation.   In fairness to all students, it is the student's responsibility to provide documentation as proof.


If you are in a military situation, Park University tries to adapt to student needs.  Please ask your supervising officer or another appropriate person to verify the problem in your request, and let your professor know how long of an extension is needed. 


Make arrangements with your professor in advanceObtain your professor's written approval in advance of the original due date. A last minute email or phone message will be ignored and does not count as working out a solution with your professor in advance of the due date. 


Upload the verification with your explanation and/or written approval from your professor to a dropbox, so there is a record inside eCollege. If your professor gave you an excused extension, your assignment is due by the following Sunday (one week after the due date). An excused extension for one assignment cannot be used for any an additional assignment.

If your professor granted an excused late weekly assignment that is a required part of the core assessment, include the following at the beginning of your core assessment assignment: (1) an explanatory note at the beginning of your core assessment, (2) your professor's approval email, and (3) the excuse verification or documentation (e.g., physician's excuse, copy of deployment papers, funeral program, or similar document). This information needs to included as part of the core assessment to receive credit.

Late Core Assessment
By week 6 in an 8 week course, a student should know if he or she is having difficulty meeting course requirements. Telephone your professor by phone to work out a solution to the problem with your professor in advance of the due date. Last minute EMAIL AND PHONE MESSAGES ARE NOT ACCEPTED.  

Excused. Remember, you will want to receive instructor approval IN ADVANCE for an option to the core assessment due date. If you received course professor approval in advance of the core assessment due date and have a valid excuse, submit your excuse and a completed contract for incomplete in the dropbox by the due date.  In other words, to receive a time extension, complete the contract for incomplete form and upload it dropbox week 6.

Unexcused. If the late assignment is not excused in advance by your professor, you will also need to submit a research paper on the topic: "use of time as communication." See the section below called "Unexcused Late Core Assessment."  To start, read the information on the nonverbal meaning of being late on this page.

Request for Incomplete Form. According to Park University policy, the professor cannot submit a Request for Incomplete for a student, but the student is required to make the request, which can be downloaded from the website (use the search function) or here  Remember, the completed Request for Incomplete form is due week when the core assessment is due (according to your course syllabus and professor's expectations). If you submit the work for the core assessment by Wednesday of Week 8, the form for an incomplete will not be submitted. According to Park University policy, a student who fails to complete and pass the course core assessment or final exam has earned a failing grade in the course. Make sure you read the section below called "Grade of Incomplete."

In addition to your Core Assessment, you will need to write an additional research paper on this topic:

Effective communication through use of time in a monochronic culture.

The original assignment and research paper are due one week from the original due date (Wednesday of Week 8 is the final deadline). A core assessment will not be accepted after that final due date.

Thus, with a late core assessment, the following is due Wednesday of week 8 in the course dropbox:
Acceptable core assessment, which meets the grading rubric expectations. This assignment cannot revised for a higher grade.
3-5 page research paper with 5 references, which is about effective communication through time in a monochronic culture.

Nonverbal Meaning: In the US, Communication professionals and leaders are on time.

Being late communicates negatively nonverbally. The research suggests that people who are late consider themselves more powerful and superior to the rest of the group. Consider these findings about people in the US who are late:

"In cultures that value promptness, one of the questions raised about time centers on the person who is constantly late. What does habitual tardiness reveal about the person?

"Chronic lateness, in a formal-time culture, may be deeply rooted in a person’s psyche. Compulsive tardiness is rewarding on some level. A key emotional conflict for the chronically late person involves his or her need to feel special. Such a person may not gain enough recognition in other ways; people must be special in some way, so the person is special by being late.

Other reasons include needs for punishment or power or as an expression of hostility. Tardiness can also be a sign that a person wants to avoid something or that the activity or person to be met is not important enough to warrant the effort to be on time. Procrastinators are often not valued in a linear time-focused culture" (cited in Berko, Wolvin, & Wolvin, 2009, p. 81).

Berko, R., Wolvin, A., & Wolvin, D. (2009). Communicating: A social, career and cultural focus. Boston: Pearson.

Here is an interesting article about the perception of time in different cultures (scroll down):


Undergraduate Advising
(816) 584-6800 Email: See  or on campus students may go to Norrington.  Online Organizational Communication advising information:


Graduate Advising
Graduate School 816-559-5629 Grad advising information: 

Read your syllabus all the way through and read any links to the page or documents attached. Go into the course and look around.  Notice the tools tabs across the top and the course content tabs on the left side. Please do not expect grading information or eCollege content to be updated until the day class starts, perhaps the first week. The eCollege course is copied weeks in advance, but your professor may need to update information.


Course Inconsistencies

Creating effective online learning involves many people:  The Park Distance Learning department, an instructional designer, a course developer, the program coordinator of the supervising department, and all the professors who teach the course. 


We hire expert faculty, so the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations encourages each course professor to teach the course in a style that fits with his or her knowledge, skills, and values.  Unfortunately, in the course system (operated through Pearson's eCollege) cannot make many changes in your online course.


Thus, variations in the course content develop because you are taking a course designed by a group of faculty who offer ideas that each individual teacher can adapt to their style.  Typically, consider grade weighting, rubrics, and assignment information you see in your course as examples you professor may use.  For your professor's guidelines, count on information your professor can control:  Mass emails, Announcements, Syllabus, Gradebook.


To make your course adaptable, you may see variations that sometimes appear to students to be problems or inconsistencies.  These variations are designed to make your course the best possible learning experience:

  • Assignments.  The core assessment stays basically the same for all sections of a course, but your professor can adapt all other assignments.

  • ReadingsFor undergraduate courses, the textbook stays the same for everyone, although there may be additional readings from scholarly sources, websites, and other sources.  For graduate courses, your professor may use totally different textbooks and readings.  Because sometimes there are last minute changes in who teaches a course, check with your professor about the required textbook or readings.

  • Grading, weight of assignments, and rubrics.  The core learning outcomes stay the same for all sections of a course, but different faculty use different methods to guide students.

  • Weblinks.  Your professor has no control over external websites.  In addition, the new Park website means that many Park webpages no longer work.  All weblinks are offered to supplement the course, so if a weblink doesn't work, use your search engine to find the new location of the page or something comparable to support your discussion or learning.

Low Enrollment Sections
A graduate course with fewer than 6 students or an undergraduate course with fewer than 8 students, does not "make" at Park University.  This means the course does not count as part of a faculty member's teaching load.  The professor is teaching the course as extra work, primarily as a favor to students who want to take the course.  Therefore, the planned syllabus will be modified so that assignments are streamlined and faculty interaction is minimized in order for the professor to have adequate time to focus on regularly scheduled courses. 


If you are in a low enrollment section, expect major changes in the online course designed for 20 students.  Typically in low enrollment courses, students have a weekly assignment or discussion and core assessment.  Undergraduates also have a final exam.  Your professor probably designed the syllabus for a large class, so read Announcements and Class Emails about your professor's changes and updates to the course.


Communication Courses:  Performance Based, Research, and Writing with High Standards

The Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations has expectations about the content and rigor of our courses.  Too often, students enter a communication course saying "this course is just common sense."  In fact, our courses are based on scientific, scholarly research in communication and leadership.  If this content was common sense, students would be able to pass the final exam before entering the course, and they wouldn't have so many difficulties writing well, communicating with the boss, adapting to difficult contexts, maintaining quality relationships, and being understood.


Academic Rigor

You won't pass this course by talking off the top of your head in discussion and taking a final exam.  The faculty expect academic rigor.  In communication studies, we are writers and doers.  Thus, we anticipate that you will be an active, engaged, scholar in this course.  Because you are learning better communication, the faculty expect you to do the following:

  • Write for clear communication, while using the Associated Press (AP) style or American Psychological Association (APA) style.

  • Use scholarly research methods so you can find answers to your own questions and make better decisions.

  • Apply research-based principles through activity, performance, and application learning in order to demonstrate increased knowledge, skills, and values from the field of communication studies and leadership.

  • Achieve personal change so that you communicate more effectively through cultural sensitivity, tolerance for ambiguity, openness to different perspectives, use of logic and evidence, creation of a supportive climate, and demonstration of other research-based principles in communication studies.

This Course is a Writing Course

The faculty in the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations expect students to improve their written and oral communication.  Writing is a foundation to effective communication, so extensive research and writing is expected in discussion boards, assignments, and the core assessment. 


Here are Websites that may be helpful.


Educational Philosophy
Park University faculty in the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations believe in the following:

  1. Excellence in craft improves professions and communities.

  2. Communication is a skill necessary to people and society; understanding the nature of communication prepares graduates to participate on a high level in community affairs.

  3. Curious, open-minded professionals utilize a broad education, sound principles, reason and human empathy to make good decisions

  4. Professions and communities desperately need citizens and practitioners who understand the connectedness of society and place the well-being of others before personal achievement.
    Those with less power in society need advocates for change.

  5. Free-speech, open inquiry, and a responsible, unfettered press require strong guardians willing to shoulder democratic responsibility.

  6. The history and cannon of a profession inform practitioners and scholars and provide solid grounding for innovation and creation.

  7. Awareness of the nature of communication and the symbolic environment -- its potential effects on people, culture, political entities, and global societies -- is essential knowledge for modern citizens, scholars, journalists and other communication practitioners.

  8. Communication and leadership courses often seek to be useful ones for your work and personal life, which encourage you to change and improve your skills during and after the course. Even a course in communication theories and research is useful when you learn how to conduct research to find solutions to your personal communication challenges.




Communication with your professor for an online course can be by email, telephone, or in the course eCollege environment (e.g., Dropbox, Discussion Board, Chat). 


Announcements contain lots of information your professor is able to update and change for your current course.  Your professor may respond to questions received from student emails in the Announcements--Q & A:  Questions and Answers from Student Emails--instead of answering your question by email.  This approach ensures that all students have access to this information.


Private communication for your professor, including documentation to verify an excused late assignment, can be put that in the appropriate dropbox.   You will see a dropbox called something like "Backup Dropbox, Info for Prof, Excused Absence Documents."  That way your professor has a record and easy access when grading.


The Instructor’s Office typically is not used by students.  Instead, your professor may use the announcement section instead of the Instructor’s Office for course questions and answers.  Your professor may hold virtual office hours, when you can email, chat, or telephone.


You need to post to discussion or upload an assignment to the dropbox each week to be counted in attendance.  If students are not actively engaged by submitting work in the discussion or dropbox for two weeks, Park University administration automatically drops those students from the course.

If you have an excused absence your professor has approved, you need to upload that information, emails, and verification of your excuse in a document to the course Dropbox during the week (by Sunday at the end of the week) when you will be absent.

To receive a time extension for a core assessment, the following is due week 6 in the course dropbox:
1.  Completed contract for the incomplete.
2.  Documentation for the excuse (e.g., deployment document, physician excuse, police report, copy of funeral program, court document, hospital discharge document).
3.  Progress on core assessment so far (e.g., draft).
You can download the contract for an incomplete if you go here and right click on the document: 

Remember, the student needs to submit the Contract for Incomplete in the dropbox by week 6. The professor will be responsible for requesting approval from the department head. The professor does not enter the incomplete, but the University administration does, so it may take some time.

If the student submits an acceptable excused, late core assessment and other assignments by Wednesday of week 8, a final course grade will be submitted instead of a grade of "incomplete."

Note, students are blocked from the eCollege course on the last day of the course, so the student is responsible for downloading all information, assignments, or materials needed to complete the course.

The student is responsible for meeting the Contract for Incomplete without additional faculty guidance and the student is responsible submitting all assignments at least one week prior to the due date indicated on the contract (so the professor has grading time). There are no professor or university reminders. If the student fails to comply with the contract, the University automatically converts the "I" grade to an "F."

The field of Communication Studies uses the APA style manual. If you are an online Organizational Communication Major, please purchase a APA manual for use in multiple courses/

APA (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Here are helpful links:


What is ethical and honest behavior?
US society values private ownership, including ownership of ideas. Cite and reference all sources of information and ideas according to APA style. Academic integrity is crucial to this course. You will see basic expectations in your Park University catalog and in your APA manual.

USE YOUR OWN WORDS in everything you write or present in this course.

EVERY ASSIGNMENT NEEDS TO BE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY THE STUDENT ONLY FOR THIS COURSE. See Park University policy, American Psychological Association Publication Manual guidelines, and the information below.

Be Responsible

When conducting research and preparing assignments, take precise, correct, and careful notes. Use your own words by paraphrasing, but remember to record a reference listing of the source you will use. Any notes where you copy the words of others need to be indicated by quotation marks and referenced so you remember the source. If you are unsure, go back and look it up.

What is Unethical Student Behavior?
Plagiarism in this course is failure to use APA style by crediting the source of ideas or information.

Some examples of plagiarism include the following:
1. Using words from a journal article without using quotation marks.
2. Using a review of literature information from a journal article without indicating that you are citing the secondary source. Please look it up in the original source--primary source--if you plan to use the information.
3. Failing to use quotation marks when providing a direct quotation.
4. Failing to cite and reference the source of paraphrased ideas.
5. Using part or all of an assignment turned in previously in another course.
6. Using part or all of an assignment written by another student or someone else.
7. Coping cited text without using quotation marks for the real author's words.
8. Using a “service” that provides student assignments.
9. Using material taken from the Internet.

Academic dishonesty includes unethical behavior, such as falsification of data.
Some examples of unethical research or writing include the following:
1. Taking any material—even a sentence—directly from another source without using quotation marks.
2. Quoting more than 200 words from a single source, even when using quotation marks, a citation, and reference listing.
3. Quoting an author's abstract or other published words in a review of literature.

Under Park University policy, academic dishonesty can result in a failing grade for the assignment, course, or expulsion. Previously in some communication courses, students have earned an "F" for assignments that appear to be plagiarized or an "F" in the course when a section of the major course assignment (core assessment) appears to be plagiarized. 

Faculty may use plagiarism detection software to determine whether the content can be found through the Internet, published sources, or in an assignment submitted by another student at another university. Warning, plagiarism detection software may be used on student work. Any student who duplicates content--as identified by Turnitin software--without direct quotation marks and proper citation should expect a course grade of "F." In addition, the situation may be reported to Park University administration.

The Style Manual for the Communication Studies is APA:
APA (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

READ, KNOW, and USE American Psychological Association (APA) Ethical Requirements for this program:
Expectations of ethical behaviors pp. 11-20.
Compliance checklist p. 20.
Complying With Ethical, Legal, and Policy Requirements, p. 231-236.
Crediting Sources pp. 169-174.
Self-plagiarism, pp. 16, 29, 170.


What is ethical research on human subjects? 

This information quoted or closely adapted from the IRB, APA, and course materials.


Ethical experimental research protects human safety and privacy. According to Federal regulations and Park University policy, any research on human subjects must be reviewed and approved before data collection.  Ethical research avoids deception. The Park University Institutional Review Board (IRB) must approve any research on human subjects in advance. Fraud is an issue of concern.


No researcher can put an individual at risk.

1. We need to ensure that the participant participates only after fully informed, and when consent to participate is give.

2. We can do nothing from which the research can gain.

3. We must not do anything that damages the environment.

4. We cannot do biased research.

5. We cannot fabricate data or information, use fraud, or falsify anything to anyone during the research process.


APA guidelines require the following:

1. Minimal risk.

2. Fairness, responsibility, and informed consent (adults).

3. If the researcher can justify deception, there must be debriefing.

4. Freedom from coercion.

5. Protection of participants.

6. Confidentiality.


Talk to your thesis or senior project advisor, but because of federal law, you may expect the following restrictions regarding research on human subjects.

  • You canNOT use participants under 18,

  • Cannot use participants who are members of a protected population (no one pregnant, no one in prison, no one with a mental disability),

  • Cannot conduct research that provides any financial gain to anyone,

  • Cannot collect health information,

  • Cannot collect names or demographic information,

  • Cannot conduct research that involves anything beyond minimal risk,

  • Cannot use deception of any kind.

  • Cannot use of Video or Audiotaping because of the complicated record keeping required by federal law.

  • Cannot use a sensitive topic (e.g., sensitive topics include drug use, sexual practices, aggressive behavior, criminal activity).

The Communication faculty agree that RESPECT is an over-riding expectation in our courses. Respect includes an appreciation for the other person. You will want to show respect for authority and for peers. This respect includes no name calling, no verbal attacks, no public criticism, no threats, no aggressive communication.

Be aware that to challenge ideas, including your perceptions of the course material, the professor may make challenging statements, ask challenging questions, or correct students who present information that goes against scientific knowledge based on communication research.

Contribute to a Supportive Learning Environment
Rhetorical sensitivity is the process of communicating with the context in mind, so that you are concerned about the other person's perspective. Any course in communication expects rhetorical sensitivity regarding topics such as gender, ethnicity, race, life-style, marriage and family, sexual orientation, disability status, religion, socio-economic class, education, minority group status, veteran status, and culture. Strive to create a positive learning community in all aspects of your learning at Park University.

Consider the importance of saving face (protecting another person's pride), which calls for you to suspend judgmental talk or actions about the other person's values, attitudes, and behaviors. You will want to focus on ideas and avoid prejudicial or stereotypical comments.

Posts and presentations are best suited when G-rated (appropriate for a general audience).
The people in this course pay to learn course material, not be shocked or manipulated by other students. That means no offensive content in words or visuals.

Your professor is a professional, with years of experience in the field and academia. Treat your professor with proper respect. "Yo," "hey prof," and calling your professor by his or her first name before you have ever met, is inappropriate communication behavior.

If you are in this course, you are expected to communicate with respect to everyone.

See your syllabus  or the eCollege gradebook regarding grading in your course. To adapt to currently enrolled students or other elements of the current context, your professor may make changes in grading weight and rubrics, and has the latitude to make major revisions to the course, including grading policies and assignments.

In weekly assignments, students usually show that they have read and can apply the course readings, including online course content. Students are expected to work each week toward completing the Core Assessment throughout the course and not wait until the last minute to begin that assignment.


No Pre-due-date Feedback

In some courses, your professor may average 100 assignments from students each week and does not have time to read drafts in advance of the due date.  If you submit your assignment to the dropbox and your professor has time to read it in advance of the due date, he or she MAY allow you to revise for the due date (your professor's choice).  More likely, your professor will give your grading feedback within a few days AFTER the due date.  Please do not send assignments or important course-relevant information about you to your professor by email, but upload everything to the appropriate dropbox or place in the course.

Discussing Grades:  Professors are not supposed to discuss grades by email.
First, faculty are advised not to discuss grades by email or phone because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 
Discuss your grades in eCollege, where the dropbox and gradebook feedback is confidential. You can pose private questions and comments in any Dropbox.  It is upsetting to have a student who send multiple emails and telephones complaining about a grade, when faculty aren't supposed to discuss grades by email or phone. Ask your question in the private dropbox, and your professor will probably read and respond when grading assignments the following week.  If you don't receive a response within two weeks of the due date, please email your professor that you posed a private question in the Dropbox.

Second, faculty typically provide a grade and feedback in the gradebook within a week of the due date.  Please don't pester faculty. Students often complain about not having grades immediately, while faculty are still working, which means faculty have to take time away from grading to answer all the complaining emails. Many faculty are full time employees in a professional position and give up evenings and weekends to work with you, so show a little patience.


Error Correction in Gradebook

Your professor may use "Error Correction" in the gradebook.  Error Correction provides some free points not from a graded assignment.  This way a poor test question or other potential problems are automatically taken care of for all students.  In fairness to all students, error correction provides credit for everyone so all students are treated equally.

Faculty Response or Grading Turn-around Time
Although online faculty differ in how quickly they grade, the Communication faculty are dedicated to prompt feedback. When faculty teach both graduate and undergraduate courses, they may grade undergraduate work first because undergraduate students need more time to improve before the next due assignment.  Below is typical grading turn-around time.

Question in Dropbox--Wednesday of the following week.

Discussion Board--Wednesday after the due date.
Full-time faculty typically teach a heavy load, including graduate and undergraduate courses, and independent study classes. If your professor averages just 50 students per term, this means reading 200-300 discussion board posts and assignments per week. Most faculty don't succeed in reading them all during the week, so they have a lot to review after the Sunday deadline.

Response to Email Question--Usually within a couple days.
Your professor may refer you to the answer in the Q & A Announcement or other location in the course.  If you asked an important question in the discussion, dropbox, or email, and your professor hasn't responded, please send another email repeating your question. Please don't post a single question in multiple places or send an email saying: "Did you read my question in the Discussion?" Just ask your question again.

Test--One week after the due date.  

Most tests in our department include short answer and essay, which take take to read.  The computer only grades objective questions, and although the system may show you the results of automatic grading, it takes time for your professor to read grade other questions.

Weekly "Paper" or Core Assessment Assignment--One week after the due date.

Core Assessment due week 6 or 7--One week after the due date.

Final Examination, regardless of when taken--Tuesday of the week after the course is over.

Instructor's Office--Almost Never. Students seldom use them, so most faculty use the Announcements instead.  You may enjoy the Virtual Cafe discussion with other students there.

Late Assignments--Week 8

Late assignments don't fit into your professor's planned work schedule. Thus, you can expect late assignments submitted during weeks 1-6 to be graded collectively at the end of the term, when your professor checks the accuracy of final grades. If your assignment doesn't seem to be graded or you still have a question about your grade on Friday of week 8, please contact your professor.

Gradebook Feedback
You have access to the Gradebook inside eCollege or eCompanion (for some independent study courses). The gradebook link is a tab in the upper part of the screen inside the eCollege course. This gradebook can provide information about assignment values. Important points to remember.

Click on blue links to access faculty feedback.  In the gradebook feedback, click on the plus icon to see everything the professor wrote.

Dropbox assignment feedback is available through the Dropbox. You may need to download attached feedback, such as inside content inside a dropbox. In case colors are used in the grading rubric, do not print unless you are using a color printer. Notice that there is a continuous feedback screen, so you may need to scroll down to see earlier feedback or to download attachments.
Remember, confidentiality law requirements discourage email discussion of grades.

Grading Percentages
A typical grading scale uses percentages:
90-100 = A
80-89.99 = B
70-79.99 = C
60-69.99 = D
Below 60 = F
With 100 points, 1 point equals 1 percent. With 1000 points, 10 points equal 1 percent.

Submit weekly Discussion board assignments (e.g., Discussion, Time 2 Try, Just 4 Fun, Team, Webquest) as a main post with your name and topic in the subject line by Friday. Make sure you also respond in a conversation with other students in the class by Sunday.

Personal journal entries in CA104 need to be submitted through the Journal tab near the middle upper right part of the screen.  Make sure you indicate the week and assignment in your title.

To use the dropbox, submit other assignments in eCollege or eCompanion during the due week in a single, electronic file attached in the course dropbox. The tab is in the middle upper part of the screen. You attach your file in the dropbox function much like you would attach a file to an email. Remember, after you submit to the dropbox, click on the icon and open it to make sure it is there. If not, submit again.  Dropbox categories are all visible from the professor's end, so just select what looks like the most appropriate dropbox.

Please do NOT send assignments by email because they cannot be tracked, so submit all assignments in eCollege (or eCompanion).  If you have a problem using the dropbox, telephone eCollege immediately, 1-866-301-7275 or 877.740.2213, not your professor.

Because assignments are read online, please use non-serf font, which is more readable online, such as ARIAL font (12) or eCollege 3.

For the Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership graduate committee of the capstone thesis hardcopy, please use Times New Roman 12.


Online Participation or Minor Assignments
For participation assignments, submit them as the content of a posting in the discussion board of the week the assignment is due. Please do not use attachments in discussion board, which take extra time for students to open and require downloads that can transmit a virus. Weekly units are typically available for use only by week in order to encourage students to interact with each other as they work through the material.

There may also be weekly assignments that you submit to the course dropbox, so make sure you submit them as a single, attached file, with your name in the file name.

Remember, Check To Make Sure Your Assignment Works in the Dropbox
To be sure, you can submit any assignment to the Dropbox (any thread). If you can see the icon of a paper and open the file, then your assignment is in the Dropbox and readable to your professor.

Acceptable Formats to Submit in eCollege (eCompanion)
Acceptable formats include Microsoft Word (e.g., file extension .doc,.docx, .ppt), rich text format (extension .rft), text format (.txt), or PDF (.pdf). You can probably use Word's print function to create a pdf file. Other formats, such as Word Perfect or LPI, don't work in eCollege (eCompanion).

Again, professors don't accept assignment via email. Please submit all assignments inside your specific e-course (eCollege or eCompanion), usually to the Dropbox.  

If there's a problem in eCollege, contact eCollege, and ask eCollege to help you and to send you an email to document your contact to them. Then upload that verification to the Dropbox to excuse your late submission (as soon as you have access). As soon as the problem is fixed, submit to the Dropbox.

Naming Files
Name electronic files beginning with your last name, then an assignment description:

Some faculty may use mastery learning.  The philosophy with mastery learning is that it takes individuals different amounts of time to reach the same learning objectives. "Bloom suggested that although students vary widely in their learning rates and modalities, if teachers could provide the necessary time and appropriate learning conditions, nearly all students could reach a high level of achievement" (see para. 3,



Learning Objectives Time and Learning Restricted (No revision) Time Flexible (Revision based on professor feedback)
Implied Objectives Traditional Learning Humanistic, but Inconsistent Approach to Student Problems
Specific criterion referenced assessment Competency-based Learning Mastery Learning*



Your professor may use a credit/no credit or pass/revise system with mastery learning. Or your professor may allow you to revise certain assignments to raise your grade.  Revise or “R” grade means you will want to do the assignment again for credit. Instead of expecting everyone to meet all goals every week in the Time to Try It Out, for example, your professor may tell you what needs to be improved for future weeks, so that your performance improves during the course. 


Something is better than nothing:  Submit your best assignment and revise.  For example, Dr. Aitken typically uses mastery learning for the core assessment assignment.  If you believe your assignment is below mastery standards, submit it anyway. For major assignments, revision to raise your grade will not be permitted unless you met the original due date deadline.

Students typically need a mastery level on learning objectives to receive full credit for an assignment.   Thus, you will want to meet the following level of achievement:

80% mastery of the assignment learning objectives for undergraduate students.

90% mastery of the assignment learning objectives for graduate students.


If you are below mastery level, your professor may make suggestions and expect to see those changes in subsequent assignments (e.g., improvement in the quality of your next week’s discussion board, suggested changes in the IC Report you submit later in the term, changes needed for your Core Assessment). An assignment at the “Developing” or 70% level might receive full credit one week, for example, but the quality will need improvement the next week to receive full credit the next week. The goal is that each student reaches mastery level master by the end of the course.


The end result of Mastery Learning is that students need to learn the required material and master course objectives by the end of the course.  Regarding how this translates into a final course grade, students who are willing to continually change, improve, and revise their work can usually earn the grade of "A" in the course.  In sharp contrast, students who are not willing to improve and do all assignments as they progress through the course may find themselves earning an "F."  Note, most professors do not allow revision of assignments. If your professor uses mastery learning, however, he or she may encourage revisions of major assignments that are below 80% mastery level. Revisions can be turned in within a week or revised for the core assessment. Revisions cannot be submitted after Wednesday of week 8.


*This table is based on information from




In this course, please use your email only.  You can send an email through eCollege or through your account.  There are two reasons:  First, Park's security system is sensitive and often blocks external emails, so your professor may never receive your email.   Second, if your professor sets an automatic email responses, those typically go to email only, so you won't receive your professor's message.  Finally, please put your course number in the subject line and your full name at the end so your professor will know.

Show communication and leadership knowledge, skills, and values by engaging in an interactive discussion with your peers.  Spend the kind of time on your online discussion that you would spend engaged in a face-to-face class.


Discussion Objectives

1. Make a substantive first post by Wednesday.  Begin your own sub-thread with your name and the topic in the subject line.   Discussion is interactive, with many topics in each weekly discussion.  When students look at the discussion, they may want to respond to certain individuals or about specific topics.  If the topic and original person's name is in the subject line, that will remain in the subject line through all the specific students responses (you can always make changes to clarify your post).  A clear subject line makes the conversation easier to follow.  Without a topic and student name, the discussion can be a confusing mass of posts instead of interactive conversation.


When you enter the discussion, hit "respond" and create your own response thread with your name and content in the subject line. This post will be your key, substantive post. This method is recognized by the eCollege system, and will show your professor you have submitted a posts In addition, it makes it easier for faculty and students to follow and respond in conversation lines.


If you only respond to other students, the gradebook system shows you as not participating. Sometimes students feel overwhelmed by the number of postings in the discussion board. You can help others find interesting posts by giving specific information in your subject line. For example, if you are responding to an individual, begin with that person's name.


2.  Post a substantive main post in all required threads or discussion boards by Friday.  Begin your own sub-thread with your name and the topic in the subject line.   Length is typically a minimum of 50 words.  Post with substance, which shows learning and application of course materials rather than unsubstantiated opinions. Substance and quality are more important than the number of posts. Be aware, however, that multiple briefer posts are easier to read and process online than one long post. A substantive post is typically 50-250 words, so for easier reading, you may want to divide a long post into two posts. Please complete all of your substantive, discussion starter posts by Friday.

You will want your post to contain information from the reading, with a citation and reference listing when appropriate. A substantive post may also include a brief story, extended example, or other content that shows you can apply the reading material to your personal life.

Of course there are also times when you will just provide a phrase or single sentence too.  In addition to starting your own conversational thread, engage in interactive conversation with other students.

As a basic standard your total weekly posts will be 500 words, which would be comparable to talking only 4 minutes a week in a face-to-face class. Some professors or specific assignments require more, so follow assignment guidelines.


3.  Respond to other students in an interactive conversation in all required threads.  Responses require posting multiple days a week and multiple times in sub-threads.  Responses to others in conversation need to be completed by Sunday of weeks 1-7 and Friday of week 8.


4.  Post a minimum of 6-8 substantive posts each week
Although it depends on the specific course requirements, as a minimum, submit 6-8 substantive posts per week not including your additional brief responses to peers.  

5. Post multiple times a week
Log in multiple days a week to post your assignments and to read and respond to other students.  Your professor may have a progressive discussion board, where emphasis is on different sub-threads during the week, so you are expected to complete each thread's discussion by a certain day of the week. Or, there may be one large discussion where students interact with each other all week.  Show active engagement in the course conversation lines.  If you don't post by Friday, don't expect other students or faculty to read your posts.


6. Show that you are learning course content.
Please complete all main postings by Friday or the days indicated. Use research-based information.  Most communication courses focus on communication competence based on US scientific research. You will want to clearly identify opinion as merely one point of view and be open to listening to the opinions of others. You will want to tell personal stories, but always ground the postings in research-based principles or course relevance.  Cite or reference the source when appropriate.

7.  Show leadership through full participation.
Actively engage using effective communication and leadership.  To receive full credit, post to ALL "required" or "due" threads AND several additional "choice" or "option" threads. In other words, post to multiple "choice" or "option" threads each week, although you can select the ones you prefer. This discussion is your class meeting comparable to the hours you would spend in a face-to-face class and interaction with students for the week face-to-face.


Sometimes online conversations lead to considerable self disclosure. Keep private information about other people to yourself. Please change names and do not discuss information that is confidential to your family or business.

Discussion in this course needs to be a safe place. Use appropriate netiquette. Make general comments appropriate for the whole class. Avoid sexist, age-ist, or other biased remarks, including when followed by "Sorry" or "No offense." If you are pretending to apologize for what you say, then you shouldn't have said it. Don't do it. Healthy disagreement and alternative points of view are welcome, but nasty remarks, judgmental comments, "honesty" designed to hurt, and false apologies are not acceptable communication in a course designed to help you improve your communication skills.

Nasty, prejudicial, denigrating, abusive, or hate speech are never welcome in a supportive learning environment.

Use rhetorical sensitivity, which is a basic skill required for freshman through graduate courses in communication.


8. Use correct writing style
Because this communication course, you will want to communicate effectively online. Frequent paragraphing makes your posts easier to read (more like newspaper style). Online abbreviations--such as LOL--can be confusing, difficult for international students, and may create feelings of exclusion toward people in the class who have no experience with online discussion jargon. Some degree of language formality, precision, and politeness will enhance your online communication. You will want to proof-read your postings for correct spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and style to improve your clarity.  Capitalize the work "I."

9. Use clear, readable font.
When you write the post in your word processor, use non-serf font, such as Arial or Verdana (non-serif) font size, preferably 12 (3 inside eCollege) so it is easy to read online. Make sure there are not "hard carriage returns" that set the line length, because it will make the formatting strange in eCollege. It's hard to remember to increase the font size, but even periodic help makes reading easier for many students and faculty with tablet size computers. If the post is too small or difficult to read, students and faculty won't want to read it.

10. Write a coherent post to the assignment or discussion prompts.  Please do NOT rewrite a long question.  Begin your post with a descriptive, thesis sentence, then write your substantive post. Use complete sentences. Put the topic in the subject line.  Restating a brief question may be helpful, but please don't repost a long question. We don't want to waste time reading the same information over and over and searching for what you added.


Grading Discussion
Note, different faculty grade differently.  If your professor requires has a minimum of 6 substantive required posts for 60 points, for example, and you have fewer, you may be docked for each missing post. For example, if 6 substantive post are required for 60 points, 1 post might earn 10 points, 2 posts might earn 20 points, 2 posts might earn 30 points. 6 posts of 100 words each is less than 4 minutes of conversational talk, which is far less than would be expected in a face-to-face class.  Faculty may deduct grading points if you are missing any of the objectives below. Faculty may also deduct points for each post or thread you are missing.

One approach to grading is a mastery of objectives:
100%--Mastery (Met all objectives.)
90%--Quality Standards (One objective incomplete.)
70%--Basic Standards (Fewer than the required number of posts or lack interactive responses to other students.)
0-60%--Develping Standards (Two or more objectives missing or incomplete, particularly insufficient content, too few substantive posts, or failure to post to all threads)


Why is discussion so important in this course?
In a communication course, you need to communicate effectively online. Discussion is an interactive area in eCollege or eCompanion, where students talk to each other. Discussion is comparable to a course's face-to-face class meeting, where students engage in discussion about their course learning. Discussion is designed to emphasize student interaction as a conversation about learning course material, with focus on the textbook and course materials.

Some professors expect students to lead themselves in the discussion board (e.g., a team discussion assignment, student led discussion) and may stay out of the conversation so they don't inhibit or overly influence the way students engage with each other. Your professor may simply correct misinformation or may avoid making comments completely in order to give students the opportunity to show leadership and build relationships with other students in the class.

For discussion, please avoid attachments because they are riskier for virus and take time and space to open.Why save your work?  Save a copy of your posts in a file in case items are accidentally deleted or access is set to disappear on Monday following the week the postings are due. If there is a problem, you can talk to your professor about it.  You also may need to include some of your posts as content in your core assessment or reflection at the end of the course.  Again, remember that if you copy and paste from a word processor, do not use hard carriage returns because they make the awkward line length difficult to read.

What is expected regarding communication between students and faulty?
You will want to demonstrate respect for Park University policies, faculty, peers, property, and scholarship. If you have questions, please ask.

Read details here:  "Students are expected to accept their obligations to the entire Park community to honor and respect the value and integrity of each person and to conduct themselves accordingly. In addition, students are responsible for making themselves aware of Park University policies and procedures, all of which are outlined in the Catalog, in the Student Handbook/Planner, and/or on the Park University website: ."

Student online discussion posts may be removed for any one of the following reasons:
Posting to wrong thread.
Being off topic.
Not contributing to learning for other students.
Posting incorrect information.
Talking about other people without their consent.
Overly long posts.
Complaining, goading, threatening, aggressive, insulting, ranting, or other inflammatory communication that fails to meet guidelines of respect.

The Department of Defense (DOD) no longer permits access to YouTube or most other types of videos. Some websites are blocked. Other websites move so they don't work. First try copying the URL of the link and putting it in an external browser, which often works. If not, find a link of your own.

No videos or external weblinks are essential or mandatory in any of the online communication and leadership courses. Students can feel free to substitute something comparable. For example, if you are asked to find a YouTube video that illustrates a concept about listening, and you cannot do that, you could tell us about a motion picture you saw that related to good listening or an listening instance you observed at work.


 These pages are provided by Dr. Joan E. Aitken to supplement official information available through Park University. This page is provided without the authority of any institution or organization. JoanAitken.Org. Copyright 2005-2014. All Rights Reserved.



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