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Communication in American Universit ies. A Communication Audit with Web and Content Analyses Cale Homuth North Dakota State University. Situation. Digital communication is progressive and innovative

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Communication in american universit ies

Communication in American Universities

A Communication Audit

with Web and Content Analyses

Cale Homuth

North Dakota State University


Digital communication is progressive and innovative

American Universities use a multitude of communication tools to tell their stories

Traditional Communication

New Social Media

Limited research exists


American Universities may be theaters for communication use, but limited empirical and critical studies of their communicative tools’ development exists


To understand how American colleges employ and adopt digital communication

Utilize a case study of the Fargo-Moorhead area’s Tri-College to appraise effectiveness of communicative tools in American Colleges


To understand the nature of traditional and new social media communication in the Tri-College University through a communication audit

To understand/determine/assess the relative weight the Tri-College institutions place on the traditional and new social media

To examine how well the institutions make use of websites through an empirical and critical content analysis of their websites

research Questions

What is the nature of traditional and

new social media communication uses of the Tri-College?

What is the relative weight placed on the new social media utilized by the Tri-College?

How well has the Tri-College made use of websites? (Through content analysis of each institution’s website)

literature Review

Review of pre-existing research and application of communication audits as a legitimate form of content analysis for research

Evaluate any research conducted as a communication audit or content analysis of digital communication tools in the American Colleges

Methods triangulation audit

In-Depth Personal Interviews

Focus Groups

  • Interview webpage administrators and university relations staff, etc.

  • Communication audit:

    • What tools do you use?

    • How effective is your perception of these tools?

    • What defines the effectiveness of these tools?

  • Discuss among randomly sampled groups of users (students, staff, alumni, etc.)

  • Perceptions of different communication media

    • Pros/Cons

    • Tendencies

    • When use which and why?

Methods (Triangulation – Audit)

Methods triangulation content analysis

Content Analysis - Quantitative

Content Analysis – Critical Qualitiative

  • Content categorization

    • “What makes websites good?”

      • 2-way communication (feedback)

      • Page legends

      • URL pathing

      • Public/Private logins

      • Inverted pyramid writing

      • 1 page or less (no scrolling)

      • Keyword searches

  • Namely websites from perspective of users

  • Ease of use

  • Inefficiencies/ Inconsistencies

  • Pathing logic

    • Does the order of nonlinear page organization make sense?

Methods (Triangulation – Content Analysis)

http://www.mnstate.eduCaptured 4/19/14


http://www.ndsu.eduCaptured 4/19/14


Concordia college

http://www.concordiacollege.eduCaptured 4/19/14

Concordia College


Although results have not been gathered just yet as the data collection strategies are still occurring,

literature review shed light on categories to grade media by to measure which work best for what tasks to characterize communication in the American College system.

Further deductions will require results being analyzed and verified through triangulation and both reliable and valid measures.

Moving forward
Moving Forward

What’s Next?


i.) Data Collection

1.) In-Depth Interviews

2.) Focus Groups

3.) Quantitative/Qualitative Content Analyses (Web Analysis)

ii.) Literature Review

iii.) Drawing Warrants and Conclusions upon Results

iv.) Publishing and Applying New Knowledge