Once again this semester I am using a learning journal in the Public Relations Research course as a way to a) get students to reflect on their participation in the course and b) for me to gauge if they are grasping course concepts. Upon completion of a course lecture a few weeks past I asked students the following question: “If you could research anything, what would you research?.” Needless to say the answers ranged from serious to humorous to somewhere in between. Here’s a glimpse of some of the responses.
- Are various sports rigged for entertainment purposes?
- Do public or private universities produce more students who get jobs immediately after graduation?
- How WAS Tupac Shakur killed?
- What’s the best diet on a college budget?
- Why is college tuition constantly rising?
- Whether or not UFO’s really exist.
- Why most college students are not interested in church or Christian activities.
Needless to say I enjoyed reading their responses. Some of them were quite the shocker. But now it’s your turn to participate, so I ask, “If you could research anything, what would you research?”.
This year Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) is currently taking place in Memphis, Tennessee. Needless to say there is a lot of history here and with SSCA holding the conference in The Peabody Hotel we are within walking distance of several historical sites. Another trip is necessary, but I digress.
Due to the nature of the conference attending every panel is not a possibility, but below is a recap of some of information and ideas shared by panelist.
Positive Encounters with the student kind: Creative ideas to help spark student interest and increase communication in the interpersonal classroom and beyond (Sponsor: Interpersonal Communication Division)
This panel focused on positive communication strategies to help students better understand different forms of communication. Panelist offered some of the following suggestions.
- Have students keep a journal regarding specific conversations. Within this journal make the focus of two of the conversations on nonverbals. In essence, they must record a conversation they can not hear, such as a Facebook or Twitter conversation. Students must then focus on the nonverbal cues and what they suggest about the conversation (e.g. compare and contrast).
- Using bonus points as positive reinforcements: provide points for buying the book, make it clear in the syllabus that you can award points at will, provide bonus points for 100% attendance, post reading quizzes (1-2 questions) that students answer and bring with them to class, and/or provide stickers on graded work for clever assignments and good work.
- Have students review a children’s book to apply a communication concept, as these books, from the students point of view, are less intimidating.
- Use pictures of activities from around the world to show students their levels of ethnocentrism. Only allow students to write what they see in the picture the first time around. Then discuss the correct response and why it is so.
Deep learning strategies: Enhancing learning and positive communication in the classroom (Sponsor: Instructional Development Division)
This panel focused on deep learning strategies to promote understanding through experience, reflection, and practical activities. (Panelist suggest faculty read the book “What the Best College Teachers Do” by Ken Bain.)
- Make sure students learn the fundamentals. When teaching the fundamentals don’t just talk about it one time, do it constantly.
- Debunk students misconceptions regarding communications.
- Foster joy. Why focus on the what the students got wrong as oppose to what they got right? Remind them this is a safe place to make mistakes.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Focus on one aspect of deep learning and build a corresponding assignment.
- Self concept art project: Motivates students to communicate in a visual/holistic approach. Have students 1) build a collage to represent them in relation to others, 2) draw/paint picture to meet same goal, 3) draw a “life tree” to represent this.
(Sidebar: Consider watching the video Teaching Teaching Understanding Understanding to learn about deep learning. It can be found on YouTube as a three part series.)
Best practices: Twitter, new media, and positive communication (Sponsor: Vice President)
This roundtable discussed Twitter and its implication for usage in professional, pedagogical, and educational settings.
- Consider a separate account for students to follow you.
- Reiterate to students that personal usage is based on perceived importance.
- Some of the panels pet peeves for Twitter users: unsolicited opinions (i.e. the “intruder” has no context of the conversation); being asked to follow others; auto tweets, as they are impersonal; individuals are following you but they don’t tweet.
- There are three types of users on Twitter: Literalist (write down literally what they are doing), Networkers (Gatekeepers. They re-tweet useful information), and facilitators (engage people in the conversation). Although individuals tend to dominate in one of the categories tweeters transition in and out.
- This is an ideal way to engage shy students.
Looking forward to day two 🙂
View the conference convention book for panelist names and university affiliations.
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?
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 🙂
Below is the video that was used in our discussion on case studies. The video is a recap of the explosion at the Dixie Crystal Sugar Refinery that took place at their plant in Savannah, Georgia in February 2007.
Consider the following questions as you watch the 9 minute clip.
- What sources were used to put this clip together?
- Where could one gather additional sources–now that the investigation is complete–for this case study?
- What details have you learned from this clip that were previously unknown to you?
- What additional details are not in the clip that you would like to know?
- What’s your overall perception of how the issue was handled? Consider our conversation in class.