Case Study Continuing the Conversation

The following conversation is featured at your Online Resources for Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. Click on the link “College Success” to launch the video and audio scenario scripted below. When you’ve watched the video, critique and analyze this encounter based on the principles you learned in this chapter by responding to the analysis questions. By clicking the “Submit” button at the end of the form, you can compare your work to my suggested responses. Let’s continue the discussion online!

Your friend Jim tells you about a problem he’s having with his parents. According to Jim, his parents have unrealistic expectations of him. He tends to be an average student, usually making C’s, a few B’s, and an occasional D in his courses. His parents are angry that his grades aren’t better.

Jim tells you that, when he went home last month, his father said this:

Jim’s father: I’m not paying for you to go to school so you can party with your friends. I paid my own way and still made Phi Beta Kappa. You have a free ride, and you’re still just pulling Cs. You just have to study harder.

Jim: I mean, I like to hang out with my friends, but that’s got nothing to do with my grades. My dad’s this brilliant guy, I mean, he just cruised through college, he thinks it’s easy. I don’t know how it was back then, but all my classes are hard. I mean, no matter how much studying I do I’m not gonna get all As. What should I do? I mean, how do I convince them that I’m doing everything I can?

1. Both Jim and his parents make attributions to explain his grades. Describe the dimensions of Jim’s attributions and those of his parents.

2. How might you assess the accuracy of Jim’s attributions? What questions could you ask him to help you decide whether his perceptions are well founded or biased?

3. What constructs, prototypes, and scripts seem to operate in how Jim and his parents think about college life and being a student?

4. What could you say to Jim to help him and his parents reach a shared perspective on his academic work?

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