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COM 125 Dissecting Pop Culture

This guide is a companion to the campus course COM-125

COM-125  Readings


Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers...

and other people who care about facts.

Yellow book cover with title "Web Literacy for Student Fact-checkers" in black font.

COM-125 Assignments - Professor Humphreys


There are two assignments for this class that require research and cited evidence for your assertions. 

Media Analysis Project

Pick a piece of media you feel strongly about (which we have NOT discussed in class) and prepare an approximately 10-minute presentation breaking down and analyzing this piece in terms of the below elements. You MUST use speaker notes to provide context for the information on your slides. Speaker notes should be thorough and well-informed with plenty of supporting material. Supporting material must be properly cited.

You are NOT writing a media review! Don’t spend lots of time/space telling me what happens in your media source. The assignment involves theme, message, cultural/historical significance, etc. You’re really trying to explain what it means and why it’s significant. This is supposed to be a critical analysis – not a summary.

Picking the right media message can make this assignment easier and give you detailed material to work with.

Include plenty of examples to support your argument, and focus on three or four significant points. Follow the five stages of the critical process to organize your critique. In order to get full credit, make sure you discuss all of the steps in your presentation. If one step does not apply to your media message, it’s probably a sign that you probably need to pick another example.

The Five Steps

  1. Description: In preparing to write your paper, describe important message points that are relevant to your argument. (This is essentially the note-taking part of your presentation.)
  2. Analysis: Analyze the particular patterns (the three or four significant points) that emerge from your description step that you have chosen to examine. This is where you begin to decipher meaning.
  3. Interpretation: Interpret what all of this information might mean based on the evidence you provide. Consider why this message is important. 
  4. Evaluation: Discuss the limits of your critique and offer evaluations of the specific media industry based on your evidence and interpretations. Examine the effectiveness of the media message. 
  5. Engagement: Consider how the message impacts intended audiences and everyday citizens.

Graded Elements 

At the minimum your final submission should include:

  • 7 slides (one dedicated to each of the above steps along with an introduction and conclusion), although more slides are encouraged
    • Here, bullet points providing a general overview and images are key. You will expand upon your points using speaker notes.
  • In-depth speaker notes
    • Speaker notes should not simply repeat what is on your slides – they should go into much greater depth.
  • A link to or visual of your chosen piece embedded in the presentation
  • References slide (including a citation of your chosen media source!)
  • Posting your presentation to the relevant discussion board
  • Responses to at least 3 of your peers' posts

The Future of Media Assignment

This assignment is left purposely open-ended. Ove the course of the 2-3 pages, student will choose one particular media channel or delivery platform (e.g. Social Media, TV, Books, Music) and through their own experiences, analyses, evaluation and additional research, formulate an argument for how this media will look in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, and 50 years. 

  • As this is meant to be a thought exercise, the feasibility of content is ungraded. However, students must support all claims with research from reputable sources.
  • Grading will be based on clarity and strength of argument, use of supporting sources, and discussion of all timeframes mentioned. 
  • Any sources beyond common knowledge should be cited in MLA or APA style.

Researching your COM-125 Assignments


The Multi-Search

Begin with the Multi-Search (the long search box on the library home page). This searches about half the content to which the library subscribes. 

About this Search  |  Search Tips

Search Tips

Remember searching in the databases is not like searching in Google! There are specific ways to tell the search engine what you want it to look for. It doesn't have Google algorithms to look for synonyms of the words you type and and it won't correct your spelling!

Search Tricks:
  1. Use the "Boolean Operators" AND, OR, NOT between your keywords... and DO CAPITALIZE THEM! 
    • AND says to find both words
    • OR says to find either word
    • NOT says to omit that word in the results list
  2. If you are searching for a phrase (2 or more words) like "Social Media" be sure to put the words in quotation marks so the search engine only brings up results with the phrase "Social Media" and not all the results with either word anywhere in them.
  3. When you want the search engine to bring up results with all variations of a word, use an asterisk (*) at the end of the base or "trunk" of the word. For example: the search term cultur* will search for culture, cultural, culturalization, cultures, etc.
Search Limiters:

In the left margin of your results list you will find a list of ways to narrow your results.

  1. Click "Peer-reviewed (Scholarly)" to get only results from scholarly sources
  2. Drag the Publication Date bar to get results from certain time periods (most recent, a particular decade, etc.)
  3. Click "Limit by Subject Term" to narrow your results list to those ABOUT certain topics
Search Tools:
  1. Click on the magnifying glass on paper icon to the right of any title to see an abstract (summary) of that article or source
  2. Click on "ProQuest Central" box in the right hand margin to have your search term put into the ProQuest databases and get a whole new list of results (in a new tab too!)
  3. Click on PDF Full-Text, HTML Full-Text, Full Text Finder, Link to Full Text, etc. beneath the search result to be taken to the actual article, book, video, etc.
  4. After you click on any title, click on the "Cite" icon in the right margin to see citations for that source in various formats

Recommended Databases


The Shapiro Library subscribes numerous databases filled with scholarly articles, book chapters, research reports, statistics, and more from thousands of respected publications. These might help you the most with your COM-125 assignments for Professor Humphreys.

Google Scholar


It's true that you can find some high-quality, scholarly articles online. If you're going to search online for articles, make sure to evaluate your sources thoroughly. Check out our Google Like a Librarian guide for search tips or ask a librarian (ask@snhu.libanswers.com) if you need more help. BEFORE you search in Google Scholar be sure to connect Scholar to the library databases on your computer.

Google Scholar Search