Summer 2013 RSS feed for this section

Beyond Simple Service Learning: Reengineering the Public Relations Capstone to More Effectively Address a Fast-Changing Industry

David Remund and Kelly Bruhn

Abstract: In many undergraduate public relations programs, a capstone course involves seniors in a traditional service-learning experience, through which small teams of students develop public relations campaigns for a community organization. This case study examines how a program accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications reengineered its year-long public relations service-learning capstone to provide a more dynamic, multi-faceted learning experience beyond the traditional service-learning opportunity. The program infused problem-based learning principles and evidence-based practices into the seniors’ year-long capstone service-learning experience to achieve new levels of confidence. Pedagogical strategies, assessment methods, and learning outcomes are explored.

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Indirect vs. Direct Service Learning in Communication: Implications for Student Learning and Community Benefit

Amanda Sturgill and Phillip Motley

Abstract: Service learning is an increasingly popular pedagogy in mass communication classes. However, it can be difficult to negotiate in the context of student and community partner schedules and cultures. Because working in a community is challenging, students in some classes work on materials for community projects without directly contacting the community. Does lack of contact reduce the effects of service learning? This paper compares two classes working on the same project for the same agency. One class worked on-site and the other in the classroom only. Although both approaches allowed for reflection about professional practice, direct contact was needed for reflection about civic engagement.

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The Hybrid Mass Communication Workshop: Part Service-Learning, Part Student-Run Public Relations Firm

Sonya R. DiPalma
Abstract: This paper examines the role of service learning through a public relations practicum known as the commercial media workshop. Students enrolled within the commercial media workshop at a small, liberal arts university, provided insight as both observers and participants in the workshop. Through reflective essays, students addressed four questions examining the technical and cultural perspectives of service learning (Butin, 2003). This qualitative analysis encourages reflection on both the skill sets needed to produce original media content as well as on the contribution made to the greater good of the community both on campus and off campus (Fall, 2006). Student skill sets are challenged as they produce content within the constraints of deadlines while working with both their peers and a client (Aldoory & Wrigley, 2000).

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Service Learning: What Faculty Can Learn from the Theory of Coordinated Management of Meaning

Carolyn Kim

Abstract: The idea that education is enhanced through a fusion with real-world community experience that challenges students to integrate theory with application, known as service learning, has taken hold in the academic community. Service learning (SL) challenges educators to integrate projects into a community context directly with course objectives that produce measurable learning outcomes. This paper will examine SL through the lens of the theory of Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) in order to provide faculty with insights into curriculum integration and application within the educational process. Findings indicate that, by viewing SL through the theory of CMM, faculty are able to better understand the role in creating meaning for students before SL begins, formulate action that directly relates to academic outcomes and student development, reflect on the process to facilitate the creation of stories and provide measurable results of the learning experience.

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Spreading the Word: Service Learning in a Media Literacy Course

Carrie M. Buchanan and Margaret T. Finucane

Abstract: Proliferating media and other digital tools have created a landscape that beckons children and adolescents as consumers and producers. It is imperative that young people develop knowledge and skills to effectively leverage those media for entertainment, learning, and critical analysis. This research focuses on an undergraduate media literacy course that teaches how children and adolescents absorb and interact with different types of media. The course sent undergraduate students into the surrounding community to teach what they are learning on campus to children in elementary- and middle-school programs, either in the classroom or after school. The authors used participant action research (PAR) to evaluate, revise, and improve the course. Based on undergraduate course evaluations and course-related blogs by students, the authors worked to improved the course year after year.

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Using Service-Based, Collaborative Teaching in Journalism Courses

Mia Moody and Cassy Burleson

Abstract: New media technologies, changing student learning styles and high employer expectations in a tightening job market necessitate innovation and constant adaptation of journalism and public relations teaching materials. Building on a constructivist paradigm, this essay proposes a service-based, collaborative approach to teaching that involves students, peers, employers and faculty. It offers a model, strategies and a case study using this teaching style. Faculty, students and employers benefit from departments that maintain a good relationship with key stakeholders and incorporate convergent media into course assignments. Collaboration and service learning also are essential to keeping up with emerging trends.

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Using Service Learning to Teach Communication Skills in the Context of Economic Diversity

Amanda Sturgill, Phillip Motley, and Staci Saltz

Abstract: Economic difference and the plight of the economically disadvantaged are areas that media struggle to present. One reason may be that many communication practitioners have little or no direct experience with people living in poverty, and get their information from those who work on behalf of the poor, rather than from the poor themselves. This study investigates whether exposing communication students to people living in poverty, through service learning, can affect their attitudes toward media representations of the poor and toward the students’ conceptions of themselves as storytellers about the poor.

Students from three different communication courses participated in a service-learning project with a local food bank. Pre- and post-service surveys and reflection responses indicated that students were, after the experience, more likely to think that media coverage of the poor needs improvement. They were also more likely to see poverty as a result of circumstance as well as an individual attribute, and to see themselves as responsible for telling accurate stories about the poor. Limitations and implications for practice are discussed.

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Service Learning in the JMC Curriculum

Michael Ray Smith

From the inner city of South China to the rural outposts of North Carolinas, the academy is taking classes to the streets with service learning projects that acquaint students with real-world problems and some insight in ways to provide solutions.

Last summer, editor Vivian Martin of Central Connecticut State University suggested the Small Programs Interest Group explore the topic in a special issue of its online journal. We liked it because we believe in it. In this edition of Teaching Journalism and Mass Communication, you’ll see service learning unpacked in many ways by your colleagues.

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