theory application paper in this paper you will advance your thinking by choosing and applying a communication theory for these purposes you will again use the teaming up for change case by maryanne wanca thibault and adelina gomez

Summarize the Argument from Your Theory Application Paper #1

  • Begin your paper by briefly summarizing the argument you made in your first theory application paper. Here, we’re not interested in the grade you received, but how you framed the issue and why you directed attention where you did. Based on the feedback you received on that paper and your ongoing reflection, would you like to make any changes in how you delineate the issue, setting, and participants? (In other words, you get to choose where you want to focus your analytical attention in this paper, but you have to articulate that choice wisely.) If so, provide an update that also explains why you think making such a change is a good idea.

What is Happening & Who is Making it Happen?

Whether you update the issue/event or not, discuss what is happening and what/who is making that happen (as in the first paper). Here, your task is to portray the issue as distinctly communicative (which, as you’ve learned this semester, is not merely about telling the reader what messages are being exchanged—it’s about how meanings are constructed).

Select and Summarize a Specific Communication Theory

Select a specific communication theory that we have read about and/or discussed in class. Here you are free to choose any communication theory that we have covered, or will cover, in our course units and related readings. Be sure here to select a single theory (e.g., Communication Accommodation Theory, Coordinated Management of Meaning, Relational Dialectics, Social Information Processing, Communication Competence, Organizational Culture, Narrative Identity, Communication Accommodation, Feminist Standpoint, etc.), not an entire category of theory (e.g., Interpersonal Communication). This must be a communication theory rather than an approach to knowing, model, or tradition.

Summarize the key assumptions/premises and claims that distinguish this theory. As you present the tenets of the theory, support your points by citing sources.

Use the Theory to Interpret the Issue/Event

Draw upon the theory to interpret the issue/event you identified in part 1. How does this theory uniquely explain what happened in this issue/event, how it happened, why it happened, and what could be done? To address this, you should touch upon the following points:

  1. How does this theory (re)frame the issue/event? Here, you should discuss how the core concepts of the theory provide insight into the communicative aspects (we encourage you to maintain a focus on the construction of meaning) of this issue by addressing the following: To which “components” of the issue/event does the theory direct your attention? In what ways does the theory provide a different perspective, vocabulary, or set of concepts to understand how the issue unfolded in the case? Another way of stating this item is this: What questions about the issue/event arise when one’s thinking is guided by this theory?
  2. WHY did the issue/event happen in the way it did? How does your chosen theory explain the forces that are contributing to the problem associated with the event/phenomenon? How does it alter your understanding of the elements involved? As a result, does the theory offer you any insight into how this situation could be changed?

Consider Benefits and Limitations of the Theory

Conclude your paper by considering the benefits and limitations of this theory. How does your application of the theory create the potential to modify participants’ (or your) “common sense” about the issue/event? Does it encourage an alternative trajectory for action? In what ways could you claim that this is an interesting explanation of your event/phenomenon?

Paper Logistics

Your paper should display the same format outlined in your first paper assignment; it should be roughly six (6) double-spaced pages (approximately 1250 words, with 12-point font, one-inch margins, and double-spacing; this does not count use of a title page or references).

Below is the Grading Rubric we’ll be using for this paper.


You are free to choose a communication theory that we have NOT covered in class (i.e., one you have encountered in another COMM course or one from another chapter in the text). You should choose this option if you have found this theory interesting and exciting, and if you see distinctive value in applying it. If you pursue this route, however, you are first required to propose your choice to me for approval.

In your request, you will need to demonstrate that this theory is an actual communication theory, and that you have access to resources significant enough to understand how you’ll apply it to your event/phenomenon.


Here is a sample paper for your second Theory Application Paper. This wasn’t a perfect paper (and it’s on a theory we’re not covering this semester), but we hope it gives you an idea of how to approach this assignment.