COMM 101: Fundamentals of Communication

What is COMM 101?

COMM 101: Fundamentals of Communication is a comprehensive communication skills course that will equip you with the communication skills that you will need to be successful in your future courses, careers, and communities. In this course, you will learn how to conduct research for, organize, and deliver effective presentations that allow you to explain complex ideas, persuade, and advocate for charge. You will learn how to build and sustain meaningful relationships as well as manage conflict in those relationships. You will also develop the small group and leadership skills that will help you work successfully on teams. All of these skills will be embedded within intercultural communication context so that you can understand, analyze, adapt messages for, and demonstrate respect and consideration for the multitude of audiences with whom you will communicate in a range of intercultural, personal, and professional contexts.

This course fulfills the Mason Core requirement for oral communication and will help you build some of the most important career-ready communication skills that are highly sought by employers[1]. You will also build some of the broader academic skills that are integrated throughout the Mason Core, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and ethical decision-making.


How the Course is Set Up

Because these are skills that you will be using in a variety of contexts, we have redesigned this course to have three different components that will give you experience building and practicing communication skills in three types of class interactions: an online media-rich “lecture,” an interactive in-class “lab” component to build and practice your communication skills, and individualized coaching in the Communication Center. All three of these components work together to form a single, integrated course. This course will use an interactive online textbook, and we encourage you to wait until your instructor sends your section-specific link that will help you ensure that you have the correct book and are able to purchase it for the lowest price possible. 

There are three options for the format in which you take this class:

Online lecture/In-classroom lab

In this course format, most of the course content is delivered online through a series of online learning modules that must be completed before you go to class each week, and you will meet in the classroom with your lab instructor for two hours each week. You can think about this as a traditional class for which the first hour of class was moved online. During the online portion of the class, you will read the textbook, work through online learning modules (include the lecture, media-based example of the theories in everyday life, and quiz questions), and begin preparing for your presentations and other assignments. In each week’s lab, you will participate in discussion and activities that help you practice the communication skills that you are learning, engage in peer workshop, do group work, and deliver presentations. Additionally, you will visit the Communication Center at least once for individualized communication coaching.

Online lecture/Synchronous online lab
(spring and summer only)

This course format is exactly like the Online lecture/In-classroom lab, except that the lab session has been moved online. Each week, you and your classmates will meet with your instructor in Blackboard Collaborate for two hours during the time shown on the class schedule.

Fully asynchronous online course

This format of the course includes the same content and assignments as the lecture/lab versions of the course, but this course is completely asynchronous and does not meet at a set time each week. There will be deadlines for work that needs to be completed each week, and you will do the work and upload your assignments at times that work best for you in order to give you maximum flexibility. In this version of the class, you will use the class discussion board to participate in peer workshops to give and receive feedback from your classmates. You will also schedule online meetings with your group members to complete some of the group assignments at times that are convenient for your entire group, similar to what you would do if you were telecommuting or working with a globally-distributed team.

Teaching Opportunities

There are often teaching opportunities for graduate student and adjunct instructors in COMM 101. If you are a graduate student in communication or a closely related field, or if you have a graduate degree in communication, you are welcome to apply to teach these courses. Teaching COMM 101 is a great way to gain experience working with students and build your teaching and professional portfolio. As a member of our COMM 101 teaching team, you will receive training on classroom instruction, grading, and communicating with students prior to your first semester teaching with us. Most of our instructors teach three COMM 101 labs (2 credits each), depending on section availability.

Students who have been admitted to the Communication MA program, graduate students in communication or closely related fields, and part-time instructors who have a graduate degree in communication are welcome to apply to teach COMM 101. To apply, please submit the following materials as a single PDF file to the Basic Course Director, Dr. Melissa Broeckelman-Post, at

  • Cover letter that discusses your interest in teaching, along with any relevant experiences that have helped to prepare you for this role
  • Current CV or resume
  • A copy of your transcripts for your most recent degree and the degree that you are currently pursuing, if applicable (unofficial transcripts are fine)
  • Contact information (email and phone) for three references

Communication Center Coaching Opportunities

In the Communication Center, trained undergraduate peer coaches will provide individualized communication skills coaching for every student who is enrolled COMM 101. Coaches will help students strengthen their public speaking, interpersonal, intercultural, and small group communication skills. Coaching opportunities are for advanced undergraduate communication students or advanced undergraduate students who have demonstrated success with oral communication skills. If you are interested in working as a coach in our Communication Center please apply online via Handshake at You will be asked to submit the following materials:

  • Cover letter that discusses your interest in working in the Communication Skills Center, along with any relevant experiences that have helped to prepare you for this role
  • Current CV or resume
  • A copy of your transcripts for your most recent degree and the degree that you are currently pursuing, if applicable (unofficial transcripts are fine)
  • Contact information (email and phone) for three references

*The Communication Center is located in the Lab for Writing & Communication, Johnson Center 227E.

  1. National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2016). Job Outlook 2016. Retrieved from predictions/job-outlook-2016-attributes-employers-want-to-see-on-new-college- graduates-resumes/