COURSE REVIEW – CMNS 410: Audience Effects Research

The title of one of Athabasca University’s recently released courses has always intrigued me: “Audience Effects Research” (CMNS 410). Of what would such a course consist? What Centre offers it? It seemed to me that the best way to explore the above questions and determine the content of CMNS 410 was to write a course introduction about it”?something which would doubtlessly satisfy all those other students who have been similarly intrigued by the unusual title!

A 3-credit course in the Social Sciences, Audience Effects Research (CMNS 410), is offered by Athabasca’s Centre for State and Legal Studies (

What is audience effects research? In short, it studies the effects of a certain practice (such as media violence) on a target audience or population (children, for example). In fact, this particular example is studied in Unit six of Audience Effects Research, where the potential effects on children due to exposure to media violence are presented.

The other six thought-provoking units of CMNS 410 will introduce you to the many different facets of effects research, such as the controversy between the two schools of research (pragmatic and positivist). In addition, you will have the chance to learn about the different types of effects research, like qualitative and quantitative, in use today. You will focus on the ethical side of effects research, and explore research bias in depth as well, using current issues to maximize understanding, and you will learn about the various types of audiences in Audience Effects Research, such as in organizations.

In addition to an exciting course content, Audience Effects Research (CMNS 410) also contains another “bonus” feature: while still being offered via Athabasca University’s individualized study format, an online component has also been worked into the course content. This will enable you to participate in class discussions, forums, or chat rooms with other Athabasca CMNS 410 students, discussing intriguing course-related topics in detail. From my experience, an online component to a course always enriches your learning experience and lends a “hands on” flavour to your work!

The marking scheme is student-friendly as well. Your grades for CMNS 410 are derived in part from 9 assignments, 6 of which are short assignments and are worth 4% each (therefore counting collectively as 24% towards your final mark). The remaining 3 assignments, called “Unit Consultations”, are more involved, as is reflected by their weight: 10% each.

The largest component of Audience Effects Research (CMNS 410) is a research proposal, which enables you to apply the principles taught in the course in a detailed manner. Worth 40% of your final mark, the research proposal also exercises the material detailed in CMNS 410’s final unit (which deals with writing research proposals). The remaining 6% of your final mark for CMNS 410 is calculated due to your extent of participation in the online component of Audience Effects Research; online participation includes class discussions and forums. There are no examinations in CMNS 410.

CMNS 410 does not require specific prerequisites before you are able to enroll in it, but it is advisable to have taken CMNS 301 or CMNS 308 prior to taking Audience Effects Research, for a deeper learning experience. For more information, check out CMNS 410’s syllabus at:

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