Essay Prompt: Approaches to Media Theory
A theory is an idea “that explains an event or behavior . . . brings clarity to an otherwise jumbled situation…. [it] synthesizes the data, focuses our attention on what’s crucial . . .” But “[d]ifferent schools of thought will define theory in different ways depending on the needs of the theorist and on beliefs about the social world and the nature of knowledge” (Baran and Davis, 2012, p. 12).
Prompt: Outline your Research Question (RQ) and evaluate the kinds of theory presented so far this term. Among Postpositivist, Hermeneutic, Critical and Normative modes of analysis, explain which one you think is the most useful in answering your RQ about media’s relationship to society. Explain why by outlining the features that make it best. Compare your choice for best with what you consider the second most useful theory for your RQ. What features make one superior to the other in answering your RQ?
Format: One-page, single-spaced with at least one reference to readings from an outside scholarly / journalistic source(s) to support your point. Include APA in-text citations (Links to an external site.) where necessary and a reference page. No cover page needed.
Submit the essay to bCourses with your name and section number in the upper left part of the page.
Superior: Explanations of theory types are clear as are the reasons offered for choosing the theory. Makes sophisticated use of theory while providing important distinctions between competing schools of thought. Writer demonstrates how theories have potential to answer media research questions by highlighting underlying assumptions of theory. References illustrate the writer’s points about the value of one theory over another, touching on specific examples. Typo-free and well organized at the sentence and paragraph levels.
Good: Theory type is correctly applied but lacking in clarity and detail. Writer offers essential distinctions between theories but does not go beyond the definitions offered in class and readings. References to text are useful and illustrate important points about theory. Writer examines underlying assumptions of theories. Organization is clear.
Needs Improvement: Theory types are applied but with little sense of how they complement or contrast. Research questions are vague and theory use does not demonstrate a strong grasp of the implications of research traditions. Organization is weak and shows little logical flow.
Tip: Use the outside reading you reference to tell the reader about your research question. For example, “In 2017, The New York Times reported that screen addiction is a growing concern among pediatricians . . . . In light of these concerns, I propose . . .”
Baran, S. J., & Davis, D. K. (2012). Mass communication theory: Foundations, ferment, and future. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
Detailed grading rubric can be found here.
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