Analyzing communication is always, as St. Augustine put it, “Treating of words by means of words” which is like “interlocking and rubbing the fingers of one hand with the fingers of the other.” I ask students and myself to be aware of this interesting relationship that occurs in few places other than the communication studies classroom.
Over the past decade, I have benefited from numerous opportunities to better understand how our discipline approaches undergraduate education and what contributions I may make toward that mission. My time working with students has been short relative to that of my many mentors in the discipline. Every day I am enacting my attempt to build on their legacy, to ensure that students receive a superior understanding of the complexities of communication and how it impacts their futures.
I believe that students bring new perspectives to old problems in the discipline and are often able to teach instructors how to see through a different lens. Students who question the status quo and typical thinking make me excited to be a teacher. I find students are best engaged when able to apply concepts and theories to communication artifacts and experiences from their own lives.
It is through constructive criticism that students are able to grow in their abilities and understanding of the discipline. Without good qualitative feedback, instructors can only hope for repeated behavior and little progression. When students are encouraged to go beyond basic requirements in their learning, real discoveries can occur.
This mission goes beyond the classroom as well. I served University of Memphis students as Graduate Assistant Director of the Center for Writing and Communication (CWC) during the 2017-2018 academic year. At Chadron State College, I have helped many undergraduate advisees chart timely paths to graduation despite the challenge posed by a number of required courses in the major being offered on a biennial cycle.