Week 4 Paper Training
By Cheri Ketchum, Assistant Professor
In this week’s paper, you will be analyzing an interpersonal conflict in an episode of a television show in
order to demonstrate your understanding of some conflict management techniques discussed in Bevan
and Sole. In this presentation, we will discuss exactly what is expected of you in this paper and review
the key elements of the grading rubric. You will be required to take a quiz on this material. So, consider
taking some notes.
To begin, you are going to have to choose one of these programs. These shows have been selected
because they regularly have interpersonal conflict and it is primarily based on communication issues. If
you have problems accessing any of these shows, contact your instructor. Also, many of them are
available on youtube and the ones on ABC are available for free on their website.
Once you’ve selected the show, go ahead and watch. We recommend that you take notes on exactly
what is involved in the conflict. When you go to write the paper, you’ll want to briefly explain what
happened on the program, the characters involved in the conflict and their relationship with each other.
You’ll then explain what led to the conflict and how the conflict illustrates key points from the text.
One way to begin is by presenting the definition of conflict offered in Bevan and Sole. Notice that they
point out that conflict involves:
A) An “expressed” struggle. So, one person must be conveying their unhappiness about
something, either verbally or nonverbally.
B) There are two “interdependent” parties involved and their choices affect each other. Think
through what “interdependence” means and why it is so crucial to conflict.
C) Next, the two have incompatible goals. Because of this, they want different things. Perhaps, it
is a limited resource, like a job, time, or money, and only one is going to get it.
D) Finally, there is some interference from others. To overcome this barrier, someone is either
going to get their way, or not, or some compromise is going to have to occur.
Now that you have a solid definition of conflict, you can actually take the events you witnessed in the
television program and put them through these four parts. Think about how the parties are
“expressing” their discontent. Identify how they two (or more) characters are interconnected. What
are the competing needs involved in this dispute? Finally, does one party end up being a clear “winner”
or did they find a way to collaborate or compromise and both feel good about the resolution?
Bevan and Sole discuss a variety of conflict management strategies. Here is a list of themes covered that
you might consider covering:
Positive relationship behaviors
Negative relationship behaviors
The investment model
Avoidance, Competition, Compromise, and Collaboration
These are simply themes I read from the table of contents. You will want to identify the connections
you see in your fictional conflict and think through these themes. Avoid simply listing some of these
terms. Instead, you want to define them (with full citations!) and demonstrate that you can take an idea
and say “here is how the idea of avoidance is happening in this program.”
When you are done writing your essay, look through the grading rubric. To maximize points, be sure
Identify and describe a conflict that was not handled correctly
Explain why it wasn’t handled correctly
Use Bevan and Sole to analyze the conflict and think through some strategies they discuss
Explain what could have been done differently
EACH of these components of your paper are worth 20% of your overall grade and covering all of these
themes is worth 80% of your grade. When you are done with your paper, carefully read it and ask
yourself, “did I sufficiently explain the conflict?” Can I say why that the conflict was not handled well?
Notice that the rubric states distinguished performance here focuses on conflict resolution strategies
discussed in course readings. So, you will not earn full credit for your identification and description
without a formal APA citation to Bevan and Sole.
In thinking through your explanation of why the conflict wasn’t handled effectively, you need to
“clearly” explain why. The more details you provide, the better and the more connections you can make
to what you’ve learned in Bevan and Sole, the better. We don’t want to simply have you summarize the
television episode. The idea here is for you to convey what you’ve learned about conflict management
THROUGH discussing this television episode.
Next, you are asked to “analyze the conflict” and highlight conflict management strategies. Again, this is
asking you directly use Bevan and Sole. Again, your instructor will be looking for you to incorporate an
idea from Bevan and Sole, with full citations. Avoid simply using quotes. If you use a quote, you want to
explain the meaning and significance of the quote. Even better, paraphrase, so we can see that you can
put others ideas in your own words. Be sure to still include a citation though!
Finally, even in explanation of what could have been done differently, you are assessed on how well
you’ve incorporated Bevan and Sole into your thinking. So, you have four criteria and each is asking that
you use Bevan and Sole. You should therefore aim to use these authors repeatedly to
Explain the conflict
Explain why it wasn’t handled well
Highlight a specific conflict management strategy discussed in Bevan and Sole
Explain exactly what the characters could have done differently.
If you have any questions about what we want, ask your instructor. And, as has been mentioned, we are
also requiring that you read the sample paper. It is an example of distinguished work and you can use it
as a guide to figure out the level of detail and analysis we expect of you.
Finally, please note that a full 20% of your grade is also based on the writing and organization in your
paper. Be sure you have a clear introduction, thesis and conclusion. Don’t just jump into your analysis.
Check to ensure you have no spelling and grammar errors. If you’ve been told you have some issues
with your writing, work with a tutor in the Writing Center to ensure you express yourself clearly. Finally,
be sure you’ve met the page requirements and that you’ve followed all APA formatting rules. If you
have not cited any sources, you are in trouble! Go back and incorporate some key course themes into
your paper and give Bevan and Sole proper credit.
Okay. Good luck!
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