General Education

My Experiences in the Communication Theory Course at Curry College

My Experiences in the Communication Theory Course at Curry College
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Mike Westwood March 2, 2020

This article chronicles my experiences in Curry's Communication Theory course, including the course concepts and assignments. It is told solely through my perspective.

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In the final semester of my junior year at Curry College, the Fall of 2015, I took a course that was a graduation requirement for a Communication major, Communication Theory. The course catalog stated that a research paper was required, a paper that showed me what perseverance is all about. Communication Theory was a combination of challenging and engaging, challenging due to it containing complex topics and engaging due to the complex topics being interesting to learn about. I knew going in that I would be working very hard to pass, and in the end, that hard work paid off.

The material within Communication Theory revolved around an assortment of theories within the context of how people communicate with one another. I recall learning about two different theories that I could resonate with, Group Identity Theory and Cognitive Dissonance Theory. According to simplypsychology.org, Group Identity Theory states that a person identifies themselves socially through who they associate with. This social identity is based on who the person talks to often and the person will predicate their self-esteem and sense of pride through this group. I felt some emotion about this theory because I made some great friends at Curry and based my social skills on watching their behavior and imitating them, while being myself too.

The other theory I found fascinating, the one I picked for my very long research paper, was Cognitive Dissonance Theory. The instructions for this paper was to apply the theory to my personal life. According to simplypsychology.org, the idea behind Cognitive Dissonance Theory is that a person will behave in a manner that is inconsistent with their personal beliefs and values. In order to resolve the mental discomfort that results from the dissonance, the person must change either their belief or their behavior to feel better. I correlated Cognitive Dissonance to my personal life through discussing a challenge I cope with daily.

I am diagnosed with a mild form of autism, formerly known as Asperger's Syndrome and due to that, I display certain unusual behaviors that I choose to modify for my public appearance. I deal with the Cognitive Dissonance of accepting the condition as a part of who I am while choosing to modify the quirky things autistic people do for the purpose of not making people who don't understand uncomfortable. The dissonance within those ideas is that the quirks are not necessarily misbehavior, so I feel that there is a principle involved of showing the quirks and risking being looked at differently. That is not something I want to experience though, so I have accepted modifying the quirks in public.

I ended up earning an A- on the research paper and was commended by the professor for having progressed from the prior semester in terms of my behavior, which felt great to hear. Overall, learning about the theories was very intriguing and being able to relate to them made for an entertaining class. I made some friends in the course and ended up passing with a C, which was good enough for me given how difficult the course was. For any future Communication major at Curry, be prepared for a very interesting experience in Communication Theory.

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