Monthly Archives: February 2010

Fine young scholars and the things they say…..

This morning, February 19, I was part of a panel discussion regarding student excuses. No, this was not an opportunity to trash talk our students, yet an open discussion on current themes we find in the excuses received. These themes ran from personal responsibility, family issues in which the family member dies several times within the semester, group dynamics, etc.

Photo credit:3/4 of zer0

Of course, what would a panel about student excuses be without some actual examples of these excuses. Of those shared, here were some of my favorites:

  • One student claimed their mother died during the semester…. THREE times.
  • Excerpt from a parent to a colleague regarding their child: “Since you knew you were going to fail my child…..”
  • Students attending a Christian university always say “have mercy on me.”
  • Students of a colleague began a Facebook group titled “Kelly’s f*@%-ups” (My colleague name is Kelly.)
  • Student claimed her grandmother died. Colleague asked “Is this the same grandmother that’s already died twice this semester?” Student responded “it just took the old bat a long time to die.”

Of course there were others but these stood out to me. Here are some of the suggestions provided by the panel and attendees.

  • Establishing a common ground with students. In essence, reminding them that we are human as well, we all go through things, yet we are still responsible for our choices.
  • Consider using a coupon in class. Outline that the coupon is only good for the specified class and with xyz assignments.
  • Reinforce to students that honesty, just like dishonesty, comes with consequences.
  • When students ask faculty to accept late work when their policy states otherwise, ask the student “What would you do if the roles were reversed? How would we justify this action to your classmates that submitted their work in a timely fashion?”
  • Include a mercy clause in your syllabus. In essence reinforce to students that honesty is always the best policy. PERIOD.
  • Reinforce to students that in-class activities, although fun in nature, are outcome driven. Thus, fun does not equate to an easy course, easy professor or easy grading.

Of course there are several others that were voiced, yet they can all be tied to those listed above in some way. What are some additional themes or funny excuses you would add?



Filed under classes, research

The Tybee Bomb

Below is the clip shown in my presentation with colleague, Lisa Muller, that helped lead into a discussion of our research regarding the Tybee Bomb. Muller’s presentation dealt with the legal aspect while I focused on the health communication aspect. Look for some additional research and a publication to come 🙂

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Filed under classes, research

Cultural bias in the media

Last night I had the privilege to moderate a panel titled “Cultural Bias in the Media.” This panel consisted of Dr. Melanie Stone, broadcasting professor, Charles Minshew, the Editor and Chief of the George-Anne (university paper), and Frenchie Jones, a freelance journalist with print and TV experience.

Prior to the forum the panelist received the following six starter questions.

  1. What do you believe is the purpose of free press in America?
  2. From a professional or collegiate standpoint, do you view the media as bias? If so, in what way?
  3. Do you think bias is derived from media presentation or audience perception?
  4. How does the media perpetuate or help alleviate stereotypes?
  5. What obligations do you think the media has to challenge social norms?
  6. What do you think the media could do to be more diverse?

Due to the flow of conversation and time restraints, all the questions were not addressed to the panel; however, their responses did touch on many of the above issues.

Below is a brief recap of the various themes I took away from this panel.

  • Diversity: If you want to alleviate some of the bias, perceived or otherwise, than more diversity is needed among decision makers or gatekeepers. A diverse workforce can become minute in comparison to diverse decision makers.
  • Consumerism: This is the one value all media outlets have in common. Media is a business, thus it strives for revenue.
  • Critical Thinking: We can not blame the media for everything. We have to become critical thinkers of the information presented and choose what we will or will not accept.
  • Objectivity: Ideally individuals will be objective in their story, yet their objectivity is still filtered through a frame of reference. Thus, we again must remember to be critical thinkers of what is being portrayed in the media. Objectivity is individualistic; accuracy is universal.
  • Individual power: We tend to forget that freedom of speech is applicable to both the media and individuals. If we do not agree with what is being distributed, whether it is via print or TV, than we can and should voice our concern.

These are just a few of the themes that resonated with me during the allotted time frame. Of course, the examples, along with questions and comments from audience members were thought provoking as well.

What are some of your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with any of the above statements? What would you add to this conversation?

Many thanks to the 45-50+ graduate and undergraduate students in attendance. Also to the Multicultural Center for including this panel on their Diversity Calendar. Looking forward to more great discussions to come.

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Filed under personal thoughts

Should student groups be allowed to fire members?

Photo Credit: Sparklefish

It is without question that we want to provide our students with as much practical experience as possible, but where should we draw the line. I am all for practical experience when it comes to student groups, yet, I think some courses are more conducive to being allowed to fire a group member than others. For example, the capstone courses in a degree program as these courses are typically designed for students to work as a firm. Also, courses such as Corporate PR or PR Firms where students work in groups designed to mimic working in public relations departments or firms.

So, should the opportunity to fire a group member be presented for any class where students work in groups, or just courses where students work for clients? Sure there are several pros to the option of being allowed to fire a group member, such as

  • Opportunity to hone or learn conflict management skills
  • Ideally higher commitment from team members
  • More say-so over how the team operates
  • Ability to deal with internal politics
  • Option to drop “dead weight”

Of course with positives there are always negatives, such as

  • Firing because of the inability to get beyond the clash of personalities
  • Firing because “majority rules” or because the option is present
  • Firing because of the inability or desire to reconcile differences

I am all for the option of firing, yet it is when these options should be afforded that is my hang-up. Should class content drive the decision or just the fact that it is a group project?

Your thoughts?


Filed under classes