Anyone who has passed through the department of Mass Communication knows that the first major task for all students is overcoming the introductory course entitled ‘Introduction to Mass Communication’. In most communication departments, the code used to identify this course is MAC 101. The course is often taught in two parts – MAC 101 for first semester and MAC 102 for second semester. But the strategies for approaching the two courses are the same.
MAC 101 and 102 often carry higher units than others and it is also a compulsory course that must be passed before graduating to the next class. MAC 101 and MAC 102 is so crucial that some other departments offer it as a borrowed course. Such departments include Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Igbo/Linguistics, among others. This is a course that introduces students to virtually every aspect of Mass Communication, providing the basics of the profession to fresh students. It is designed to provide basic understanding of the foundation of communication as a discipline and practice. That is why it is often taught by a very senior academic staff of the department. Ask 100 level students about this course, most of them will describe it as ‘almighty’ MAC 101 and MAC 102.
Introduction to Mass Communication seems very broad and scary to a number of students. They see it as the ‘mother’ of all courses in the department because it looks at every aspect of the discipline, from definition of mass communication, to functions, different sub-sections in mass communication, theories, media laws and ethics, among so many other topics treated in this course. However, there are basic areas students should focus attention on in order not to fail this course again. Here is a quick tip on how to pass MAC 101 and MAC 102.
Focus on the basics
Introduction to mass communication is very broad. It is good to work with the course outline provided by the course lecturer but even at that, you might still have a lot to cover. What you do is to focus on areas that form the core of the course. Such areas include definition of concepts such as communication, and mass communication, the communication process and its elements (sender, encoding process, message, channel, decoding process, receiver; also look at feedback and frame of reference), functions of the mass media, kinds of mass media (print – books, newspapers, magazines; electronic/broadcast – radio, television, film; new media – the internet), mass media audience, and theories of communication. You can also look up forms of communication (verbal and non-verbal, Intra and interpersonal, group and mass communication forms). Lecture topics on MAC 101 and 102 revolve around these key areas. You should find a way to get used to these topics, browse them on your own, read and discuss them even before they are taught in class. You will find it easy to get an ‘A’ grade in this course.
Let’s say you’re writing on the communication process,you can use for instance, a blogger and his audience, or Dream FM presenter and the listener at home to buttress your point.You impress the examiner the more when you do this. You should always use relevant examples where necessary to throw more light on your responses to questions.
Be brief in your response
This is an interesting course. You might be misled into spending so much time on for instance, a question on the communication process or mass media audience, forgetting that you have other questions to respond to. Just go straight to the point. It might be preferable to allocate time to each question and no matter how interesting the question might be, endeavour to stick to the time.
Study past question papers
Past questions give you an idea of areas that the examiner had focused in the previous exams. Though not all lecturers repeat exam questions, what this does is to give you an idea of how the questions are likely to be framed. This makes it easy for you to practice how you would likely respond to answers while writing the exam, including where you could need illustrations and examples to buttress your point.
Avoid Distractions in the Exam hall
This has a way of making you lose focus while presenting points in sequential order. Introduction to mass communication is an interesting course but it is so broad that you might end up writing off-point if care is not taken. For instance, you might be discussing facts about television under a topic that requested for developments in the advent of radio. While writing in the exam hall, your colleagues might be calling your attention, asking you to assist them with points on a question. This could distract your thought-process and delay your response to number of questions you are required to respond to. An ‘A’ grade requires total concentration on each question.
Read ahead of the lecturer
This is a tip that applies to all courses in mass communication. Once you lay your hands on the course outline try to look up the topics on your own and do a quick search on what they offer. You could read a topic before each lecture or just keep reading on. This will definitely keep you a step ahead of each lecture and provides confidence required to write a free-flowing, fact-filled essay in the exam hall. As you read ahead you get to see examples, illustrations and developments on that topic that will enrich your answer. If for instance, you are reading up a topic on mass media and the audience, you don’t just read recommended text; you could browse such topics online or watch YouTube videos on them. You will be amazed at the level of knowledge you will gain from three-minute YouTube videos on each topic. You can only have such time if you study ahead of the lecturer.
Find out a little about trending issues in the Mass Media
This is essential for illustrations that will strengthen your points. You might need to know a little about developments in the media that are impacting the communication process. Just look for something new that will show you’re keeping abreast with developments in mass communication. This could impress the examiner.It could be development of apps that monitor fake news, or how the social media are redefining mass communication process and audience engagement.Citing such developments makes your work rich and the examiner sees such a student as serious indeed. It means you are not just interested in academics but also looking out for how mass communication is evolving in the society.
You need to attend lectures
Introduction to mass communication is pretty broad. You have to always attend lectures to get to know stray topics or issues the lecturer treated in class. This could be outside the course outline. It could be for instance, Donald Trump’s use of tweeter to change the face of press relations or how internet has redefined mass communication. Some of these stray discussions could be used by the lecturer as one of the issues a question is anchored on. Such issues could also be used as illustration in any of your answers. Lecturers love seeing such illustrations in a student’s work. It shows you attended lectures and you know what you’re doing.
Adopt simple style in answer presentation
Don’t play to the gallery while presenting your answer. Use easy-to-understand grammar devoid of high-sounding words. If you’re writing about the functions of the mass media just do so in simple English. Lecturers love intelligence expressed in simple in English. No examiner will be comfortable with having to check the dictionary every second just to understand what you are writing. Your objective should be to communicate in the simplest possible way.
Re-read your work
If you are aspiring to have an ‘A’ then you have to do something extra; and that is trying to finish early so you can have enough time to proof-read your work. An ‘A’ work does not just have to flow meaningfully; it should also have few errors in terms of grammar and facts presentation. This is introduction to Mass Communication we are talking about here. You might find yourself misrepresenting facts without knowing that. The course is truly broad and the best way to avoid wrong quotations or fact presentations is to proof-read your work.
Consider pre-exam discussion groups
It is easier to remember points you discussed with colleagues than the ones you read on your own. Try and lead the discussion or make meaningful contributions during such sessions. The engaging moments during discussion sessions are remembered during exams and topics discussed arelikely to be quickly recalled. Some students do not like pre-exam discussion sessions. They see it as a form of distraction; but the advantage is that you may never know the point you missed out that a participant in the discussion session could remind you of. Introduction to Mass Communication is broad. You might need to hear what other colleagues have to contribute, it could be something you left out or a real-life illustration you were not aware of.
Don’t Forget MAC 102
You should know that Introduction to Mass Communication is usually taught in two phases; the first phase is MAC 101 which comes in the first semester of 100 level while MAC 102 comes in the second semester. The points presented here could also be of use to you in writing MAC 102. You could make an ‘A’ in both MAC 101 and MAC 102 if you apply the points presented here. In MAC 102, you might have to look at topics such as public relations, advertising and the mass media. Such topics are advanced aspects of Introduction to mass communication often treated in MAC 102.
The guide provided here could be useful if applied appropriately. Introduction to mass communication is a course that could give you the motivation to soar in other courses if you get an ‘A’ grade.