Assignments for Relationship Courses

The following are assignments used by course instructors teaching about close relationships:


Weekly Paper

Short Paper – Media Evaluations, Comparisons, & Applications

  • Popular Press vs. Research    
    • Description: Project comparing how popular press portrays research to how the journal article originally presented it.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Writing (Non-Academic); Application of Science
  • Media Report – Geoff MacDonald
    • Description: Identify a media story about a relationship article; find the article and comment upon coverage of it in the media  (Rubric provided)
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Communication of Science
  • Relationship Science in Pop Culture – Molly Metz
    • Description: Comparing media or self-help presentation of relationship research with empirical articles, commenting on accuracy
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Communication of Science
  • Applying Research Findings – Geoff MacDonald
    • Description: Students find and read an empirical article cited in the textook. They prvoide a summary of the research as well as one example that illustrates findings/implications and one example that does not.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Critique or Application Paper – Susan Boon
    • Description: Choice: literature review/critique OR application of theories to movie, song, play, etc. Includes rubric.
    • Specific Topic: Any Topic(s); Application of Science
  • Primary Source Report – Geoff MacDonald
    • Description: Students find and read an empirical article cited in the textbook. They evaluate how the text covers the article and provide their own written summary, making comparisons.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Communication of Science
  • Report on Relationship Stories – Sue Sprecher
    • Description: Write brief summaries of 8 interesting stories on relationship science in the news:
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Communication of Science
  • Application Mini-Paper (Media Analysis) – Lisa Hoplock
    • Description: Short reflection on how media relates to course concepts. Half page written description and analysis
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Relationship Claims – Daniel Perlman
    • Description: "Identify one claim or piece of advice about close relationships and analyzed it in light of empirical research." Includes rubric.
    • Specific Topic: Any Topic(s); Communication of Science

Short Paper – Application in a Variety of Contexts

  • How-To Guide
    • Description: Project where students create a synthesis of a research area in a user-friendly format
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Writing (Non-Academic); Application of Science
  • Relationship How-To Guide – Molly Metz
    • Description: Synthesize relationship research findings to provide guidelines on how to deal with various relationship issues. Creative paper describing a process (such as a three-step process) to tackle a specific relationship problem.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Writing (Non-Academic); Application of Science
  • Ideal Romantic Day – Daniel Perlman
    • Description: Description of an ideal romantic day, based on science of relationships
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Music of Our Lives Soundtrack – Brian Ogolsky
    • Description: Students identify 10 songs that relate to "relationships across the lifespan;" accompanied by a paper that explains order, song choice, and application to course content. Students submit the collection of songs and paper explaining connection to course content.
    • Specific Topic: Any Topic(s); Application of Science
  • Infographic Fact Sheet – Brian Ogolsky
    • Description: Must contain at least 10 facts and 5 research citations.
    • Specific Topic: Any Topic(s); Appliction of Science

Short Paper – Application to Film & Video

Short Paper – Evaluation of and Application to Your Own Relationship/Experiences

Short Paper – Other

Long Paper

  • Self-Help Book Analysis - Gwen Seidman
    • Description: Critical analysis of a relationship self-help book and literature application to advice given in self-help book. 10-15 page evaluation paper integrating coverage in the self-help book and 10 journal articles; APA style
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Research Proposal - Ben Le
    • Description: Research proposal - literature review and theoretical rationale for hypotheses, methodology, anticipated results and implications; 12-15 page paper due end of term.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Research Proposal – Rich Slatcher
    • Description: Standard 15 page research proposal
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Theory Paper - Ben Le 
    • Description: Students describe evolutionary, attachment, and interdependence perspectives, discuss similarities and differences among them, and integrate all into one theoretical framework. Minimum 15 page midterm paper. Minimum of 8 outside sources must be incorporated into the paper.
    • Specific Topics: Evolutionary, Attachment, and Interdependence Theories
  • Literature Review and Research Proposal          
    • Description: Standard literature review assignment, along with proposal of 3 possible directions for future reserach.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)
  • Team Research Paper and Presentation – Daniel Canary
    • Description: "The purpose of the research paper is to have you explore a particular facet of interpersonal communication in addition to giving a presentation."
    • Specific Topics: Interpersonal Communication; Any topic(s); Group; Semester Long Project

Semester Long Project

  • Science of Relationships Teaching Guide
    • Description: A collection of writing assignments that use SofR articles as inspiration, each emphasizing the need to communicate science effectively to non-academic audiences
    • Specific Topic(s): Any topic(s); Writing (Non-Academic); Application of Science
  • Communication Consultant Project - Jessica Smith  
    • Description: Two fold: 1) Students create materials that a communication consultant could use to hep partners understand and solve a communication problem. 2) Students present materials and other work that was done throughout the semester.
    • Specific Topic: Resolving Interpersonal Communication (IPC) problems
  • Semester Project (Multi-Format/Options) – Paul Mongeau
    • Description: Semester long project with lots of different in-depth options for completion (Grad level). Includes criteria for evaluation papers.
    • Specific Topic(s): Any topic(s); Writing; Long Paper; Literature Review, Research Proposal; White Paper; Study, Journal Submission;  Graduate Level
  • Narrative Interview & Diversity – Benjamin Karney
    • Description: Interview with diverse individual or couple; audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for course content. Interviewing and writing; transcription and analysis
    • Specific Topics: Any topic(s); Diversity; Interview; Transcription

Group Project

  • Make Relationships Better – Gary Lewandowski
    • Description: Your job is to take (sometimes) complex scientific findings (you should use at least 15 articles and avoid using your class notes/textbook) and put them into a writing style/format that someone who does not know anything about research can use to benefit their own relationships. How you do this is completely wide open and up to your group.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s) 
  • Major Questions for Group Project – Ximena Arriaga
    • Description: A list of key topics and questions tht students can use for group projects
    • Specific Topic(s): Any topic(s) 
  • Group Presentation – Susan Boon
    • Description: Group of 4-5 give presentation in a variety of formats that incorpoarate research.
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s); Presentation
  • Group Work (Relationships & Health) – Susan Boon
    • Description: Find and review an empirical journal article linking relationships to physical or mental health; Group discussion (ungraded - experiential learning)
    • Specific Topic: Relationships and health

Class Presentation

Class Discussion

  • Discussion Leadership - Jessica Smith  
    • Description: Pairs of students use the class period to teach selected topic through lecture, discussion, and related activity
    • Specific Topic(s): Any topic(s)
    • Other Info: Requires additional research beyond the readings completed by the rest of the class
  • Discussion Leader – Paul Mongeau
    • Description: Grad-level assignment for leading class discussion with guidelines and sample discussion questions
    • Specific Topic: Any topic(s)

Case Study

  • Case Study Creation - Jessica Smith 
    • Description: Students create a Case Study (story) that depicts specific IPC theories/concepts and reflection connecting story to case. No page length.
    • Specific Topic: Interpersonal Communication; Any topic(s)
  • Case Analysis– Daniel Perlman
    • Description: Describe and analyze a various elements of specific relationship it in light of course concepts
    • Specific Topics: Any topic(s); Initiation through Dissolution; Application of Science

Extra Credit

  • Extra Credit Journal - Jessica Smith  
    • Description: Students evaluate a relationship initiation situation gone bad, and offer “advice” based on knowledge gained in course
    • Specific Topic: Violation of self disclosure reciprocity norms


In Class Activities/Demonstrations

  • Couple Fight Skit - Cheryl Harasymchuk
    • Description: Students use the Specific Affect Coding Manual to develop a script for - and then act out - a couple fight (each partner displays an emotion, as indicated in the manual)
    • Specific Topics: Research methods; process; Operational definitions; Coding of constructs; Communication
    • Other Info: Specific Affect Coding Manual description chapter available online (Coan & Gottman, 2007) 
  • Desert Island Desire - Molly Metz
    • Description: In class exercise discussing desired attributes in a partner if stranded on a desert island - short term and long term
    • Specific Topics: attraction, mate selection, social motives, reinforcement theory, mating strategies
  • Lie Detection Game - Rody Miller
    • Description: PowerPoint slides to present a lie detection game.
    • Specific Topics: Self-presentation; lie detection
  • Lie Detection Activity - Rody Miller
    • Description: Student volunteers asked to tell the truth or lie; class makes judgments regarding if students are telling the truth or not
    • Specific Topics: Self-presentation; lie detection
  • Matching Game - Rody Miller 
    • Description: Article describing in-class activity where students receive mate value and have to find a match
    • Specific Topics: Assortative mating; matching; attraction
  • Overconfidence Demo - Rody Miller 
    • Description: Activity where stuents make guesses about questions (e.g., population of the US) 90% certainty
    • Specific Topic: overconfidence
  • Role-Playing Workshop - Silvia Donato
    • Description: Role playing activities for a couple, parents, and family
    • Specific Topic: Communication