INFO 286-10
Interpersonal Communication Skills for Librarians
Summer 2020 Syllabus

Dr. Sue Alman
Office Hours: Advising via telephone or Zoom by appointment

Syllabus Links
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 1st, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets. This class runs from June 8th to August 7th. It will be available on Canvas on June 8th.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Surveys the principles and practice of interpersonal communication; small group and peer relationships. Interpersonal Communications Skills for Librarians is a highly interactive course using VoiceThread as an asynchronous tool for presentations, discussions, and activities. We will explore some of the factors that affect interpersonal communications in order to understand different perspectives of individuals who live and work with us and to improve our communication techniques.

Some of the topics that will be covered include:

  • Factors that Impact Communication
    • Personality Type
    • Cultural Characteristics
    • Nonverbal Behavior
  • Communication Models
  • Diversity and Cross-cultural Communication
  • Characteristics of Groups

Course Requirements


Flashes of Insight Reflective Paper
A culminating synthesis allows you to reflect and respond to the major elements of INFO 286 that have made a lasting impression. You will utilize the Flashes of Insight guide to write a personal narrative on what you have learned this term and the ways in which you intend to improve your communication style. This personal reflection narrative will be a minimum of 4 pages, double-spaced.  (Course Learning Outcomes:  #1-#9)

Flashes of Insight Guide
List each flash of insight you encounter during the term.  This technique provides learners a means of tracking and absorbing the great ideas that you encounter and want to remember.  It may be a new idea; it may be an obvious notion; or perhaps a concept your already knew--now you see it in a new context.  You are now inspired to write it down and plan to use it.  There will be a public Flashes of Insight list using Answer Garden and each person will develop a personal Flashes of Insight list to use for the Professional Synthesis. 

Exploratory Essay
Using one required reading and at least four (4) other scholarly sources you will write a 5-page essay identifying one or more factors that affect an individual’s communication style and ways to improve communication, e.g. personality preferences, age, gender, socio-economic and educational background, etc. (Course Learning Outcomes: #3, #5, #6)

Voice Thread Discussions
Each week there will be a question related to the topic being studied. You must post an oral or verbal summary on VoiceThread of an article you read related to the topic, and you must post at least one thoughtful response using Voice Thread. Directions for using Voice Thread and the requirements of the response will be available at the beginning of the term. (Course Learning Outcomes: #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8)

Group Project
Each group of 4-5 students will work together to develop a presentation that will actively engage the class AND provide information on a topic related to interpersonal communication. Groups will be able to select from a list of possible topics.  Recorded presentations may include:

  • Narrated PPT
  • Prezi
  • Collaborate
  • Voice Thread
  • Other (Please consult with the instructor for approval.)

Each group should develop a 10-item annotated bibliography on the topic to distribute to the class members on the Canvas Discussion Board.

The main emphasis on this assignment is to experience the “process” of working in a small group with a firm deadline to produce a product.  The presentation should be informative, however, the most meaningful aspect of this assignment is to recognize the roles and communication patterns of the group members.  Your experiences in this group will form the basis for your final reflective paper. (Course Learning Outcomes: #2, #9)


Comp M: Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for professional collaboration and presentations

You may gain experiences that pertain to other competencies based on the topics that you use for individualized assignments.  e.g. In your personalized journal entries, you may choose to focus on cultural and economic diversity (Comp C) or global communities (Comp. O).

Tentative Calendar   (Topics and Dates May Be Revised.  Final Schedule Will Be Available by the First Day of the Term)

Week Dates Topic/Module Assignment
1 8 - 14 Individual Factors Affecting Communication Voice Thread; Assigned Reading: TBA
2 15 - 21 Personality Type Voice Thread; Assigned Reading: TBA
3 22 - June 28 Face-to-face and Virtual Communication Voice Thread; Text: 3-20. 117 – 121; 222 - 231
 4 June 29 - July 5 Internal/External Communication  Voice Thread; Text: 307 - 399
 5 6 - 12 Listening Techniques and Nonverbal Behavior Voice Thread; Text: 3-29; 31-33;44-46; 281; 231
6 13 - 19 Group Dynamics Voice Thread; Text: 197-247
7 20 - 26 Communicating with Everyone: Diversity

Voice Thread; Text: 165-178

8 July 27 - August 3 Conflict Resolution Voice Thread: TBA
 9 August 4 -7 Group Project Presentation Showcase and Discussions  


Assignment Points Due Date
Voice Thread Interaction 25 points

 Weekly as noted on the Calendar
Exploratory Essay 25 points July 8
Group Project 25 points August 4
Flashes of Insight Reflective Paper 25 points  August 9

Assignment Deadlines
All assignments must be submitted before 11:59 pm PT on the date due.  Grades will be reduced for any late work, each day late, by twenty percent.  Please contact the instructor prior to a deadline in the case of illness or emergency.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 200

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the types of communication methods that can be used in internal/external and virtual/f2f situations.
  2. Identify the factors that affect an individual's communication style, e.g., personality preferences, age, gender, socio-economic and educational background.
  3. Develop a Flashes of Insight guide that lists interpersonal communications tips and techniques.
  4. Recognize the possible generational communication styles.
  5. Acquire skills to improve communication with individuals and groups.
  6. Appreciate individual differences.
  7. Identify ways to improve listening and resolve conflicts.
  8. Prepare audio and video responses for VoiceThread discussions.
  9. Reflect on the experience of participating in a small group.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 286 supports the following core competencies:

  1. M Demonstrate professional leadership and communication skills.


Required Textbooks:

  • Ross, C., & Nilsen, K. (2013). Communicating professionally: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians (3rd ed.). ALA Neal-Schuman. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.