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‘Taking the J out of the J-School’: Motivations and processes of program name changes

By Matthew Haught and Erin Willis

Abstract: As student enrollments, industry trends, and professional demands embrace the digital media landscape, journalism schools throughout the country are reconsidering their own brands. Specifically, many are asking if the program’s name accurately reflects its course content and curriculum, but also if the program projects an ideal image to the profession. The current study questions administrators at schools that changed names and asks what motivated the name change, as well as the processes by which name changes were considered and approved.

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Beyond the inverted pyramid: Teaching the writing and all-formats coverage of planned and unplanned breaking news

By Patrick Walters

Abstract: For generations, journalism educators have focused on the structure of a basic news story as following the inverted pyramid style, structuring it from the most important information to the least important—not chronologically. The current environment still demands that at times, but also requires journalists to cover events live, chronologically, in short bursts of headline-style reporting. Using a descriptive case study method, this paper explores a pedagogical technique for teaching breaking news in the 21st century, whereby students concurrently produce the different writing styles required for tweets, broadcast, print and web audiences. The study concludes that such a staged approach works to help undergraduate students efficiently learn how to cover both “planned” and “unplanned” breaking news.

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Millennial learners: Perceptions and expectations of out-of-class communication

By Carolyn Kim

Abstract: Millennial learners have grown up in a world drastically different from the faculty who teach their courses. Scholars suggest millennials require unique pedagogical approaches, which extend to the method that faculty use to illustrate immediacy as well as expectations for out-of-class communication (OCC). This study identifies key expectations millennial learners hold for OCC and the perceptions that have led to these increased communication expectations. In particular, this study found that millennial learners have a staunch expectation of OCC in an educational environment due to the fact that they believe OCC increases their individual learning. Thus, their OCC expectations reveal a desire and commitment to a robust education. Findings provide recommendations for best practices and communication of OCC expectations from faculty to millennial learners.

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The JMC introductory classroom with and without Miley Cyrus: An experiment in undergraduate media research

By Doug L. Mendenhall

Abstract: In the crowded syllabus of the introductory undergraduate course in journalism and mass communication, media research often receives little attention, although it is one of the 12 ACEJMC core values. To investigate one method for injecting into the curriculum a greater understanding and appreciation of research, a comparative study was made between students (N = 48) in two sections of an introductory course in the JMC department of a small Southwestern university. Students in the section that learned about media research primarily in relation to a class topic of their choosing exhibited slightly more positive attitudes than students in the section whose study of media research was not related to a self-selected topic, but rather received standard lectures and textbook readings. Although these differences failed to meet the level of significance (p < .05), students in the section that selected actress Miley Cyrus as its research topic were found to be more intellectually stimulated by the class, more interested in the field of media-related research, more confident to conduct research, and more likely to enter a research festival. However, students in this section also received slightly lower grades on multiple-choice exam questions about research than students in the other section.

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Is coaching enough? Feedback approaches to JMC writing instruction

By Sharlene R. Kenyon

Abstract: In an effort to innovate and increase the effectiveness of university journalism and mass communication (JMC) writing instruction, educators and universities have incorporated coaching and other process-oriented feedback strategies. Classroom observations and interviews revealed traditional and coaching strategies at work in the JMC classrooms. This article reveals the similarities and differences among JMC university writing instructors and analyzes the significance of recursive cycles of feedback, rewriting and coaching in the design of JMC writing instruction.

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Messaging strategies in presidential commencement speeches 1980-2016: A content analysis

By Jennifer C. Glover Konfrst

Abstract: U.S. presidents regularly speak at commencement ceremonies of colleges and universities of all sizes, and these addresses are often used for broader message dissemination. This study suggests that the tone and content of the speeches can be predicted well before the delivery.  It found that across the board, presidents used their first-term speeches to advance their policy agendas, and their second-term speeches for focusing on legacy building while continuing to push their policy agendas. Democratic presidents used their second-term speeches for policy advocacy more than Republican presidents. In an age of increased presidential commencement addresses, insight into how a president is likely to use a commencement address, as demonstrated by the findings of this study, will be useful to institutions considering presidential speakers. 

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What Is Taught about Diversity and How Is It Taught? A 2015 Update of Diversity Teaching at U.S. Journalism and Mass Communication Programs

Masudul Biswas, Ralph Izard, and Sepi Roshan

Abstract: Using survey method, this study explores how diversity courses are offered, what is taught in those courses and how learning outcomes are assessed in those courses in 64 U.S. journalism and mass communication programs. This study also seeks to determine the preferred teaching approach to diversity in these programs and whether there is a relationship between the status of a program’s offering of a dedicated course on diversity and its teaching approach. One of the key findings of this study is integrating diversity content across the curriculum is popular among both the programs that offer a course on diversity and the programs that do not offer a course on diversity. Another finding, unexplored in some past studies, suggests that these programs use critical thinking-oriented independent and applied assignments significantly over testing as assessment tools of diversity learning outcomes.

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Byte-Sized Learning: A Review of Video Tutorial Engagement in a Digital Media Skills Course

Jodie M. Gil & Vern Williams

Abstract: This study seeks to explain how students interact with video tutorials offered as a complement to a digital media skills course in a Journalism department. Using YouTube analytics and a student opinion survey, the study seeks to determine if the students’ descriptions of their video use match the actual metrics tracked by YouTube. The study serves as an exploration for future studies on the effectiveness of the tutorial videos on student learning in the class.

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Exploring the Use of Personalized Learning Plans in the Journalism Capstone Environment

Sally Haney

Abstract: This paper assesses the role of student-authored Learning Plans (LPs) in a senior journalism capstone course at an undergraduate university in western Canada. Students, working as senior editors of a community online news publication in a masthead course, developed and regularly updated individualized LPs. Their LPs were used as a means to strategize and revise learning activities, assess progress, and negotiate grades. A qualitative analysis of data revealed ways in which students engaged with their LPs. Results suggest the plans played a role in increasing student responsibility for learning, creating flexibility for students to manage their unique roles, and helping students to better identify their learning achievements and challenges. The analysis also showed a high degree of alignment between student-proposed evaluations and professor-determined evaluations of student learning. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of ways LPS could be incorporated in other environments, as well as some cautions about implementation.

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ACEJMC Assessment in a Smaller Program: Addressing Statistical Learning in a Mass Communication Research Course

Jeffrey B. Hedrick and J. Patrick McGrail

Abstract: The current study investigates the curriculum strategy chosen by one smaller program to address statistical learning. Changes were implemented addressing basic numerical and basic statistical concepts within ACEJMC Standard Two. An exploratory math course that includes short instruction in statistics replaced intermediate algebra as the math requirement, stipulated as the pre- or co-requisite for the mass communication research course. An evaluation instrument was formulated to assess whether prior statistics instruction might be related to higher scores for a course embedded assessment within the research course. Prior math education, as indicated through students’ math grades and their ACT/SAT scores, served as a numerical predictor of successful student performance with coursework that requires statistical proficiency. The results support previous studies that found journalism majors tend to score highest, on average, that women tend to outperform men, and that previous math grades and ACT scores tend to be moderate predictors of success.

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