Courses Taught at Augusta University
||Introductory Writing and Reporting for Communication Professionals
||Media & Society
||Writing for Public Relations
||Public Relations Practices
Adviser, AU Student Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists
Assistant editor, Journalism History
Book editor, The Southeastern Review of Journalism History
Master Teacher, Early Achievement in Teaching, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
2009 -- Outstanding Education, Newspaper Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
2007 -- Harry Heath/Louis Thompson Jr. Adviser's Award, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University
2003 -- Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher, University of Florida
Modeling is a major part of my pedagogical philosophy. Even though I have been out of full-time journalism for nearly twenty years, I continue to publish as a researcher of the history of mass communication. I also did free-lance work in sports and popular music through my years as a master’s student at Indiana University. Continuing to write for publication demonstrates that as hard as reporting and writing can be, these are skills that are practical tools and essential to a journalist’s everyday routine. Continuing to write also keeps me in touch with the changing state of the communications industry. Writing historical articles also informs my teaching, allowing me to give historical context to items as diverse as the development of the optical telegraph to the origins of the inverted pyramid.
Furthermore, today’s journalists face new audiences because of convergence. They have to learn these audiences and adjust accordingly. My writing and research experience also keeps me in touch with professional writers so that I can report back to students about career opportunities and the changing nature of the profession. Being in tune with the profession is vital for a teacher. Teaching is about transformation. We teachers participate in and bear witness to the changes our students undergo as they mature intellectually, professionally, and personally. It is an awesome phenomenon, and we have a large responsibility. We don’t affect this transformation for them, but we help form that transformation. We cannot afford to smother them, but students need us for guidance. They also need a structured experience that reinforces the standards and practices of journalism.
Teachers have to balance our experience and understanding with their need to grow at their own paces and in their own ways. It is critical that we try to transform as many students as possible. At heart teachers are utilitarians—we want the most good for as many students as possible. To do that, we must be available and open to our students’ educational needs. We must take as much time for our weakest students as our strongest students.
We see that teachers adapt to students just as much as they adapt to us. In order to transform, a teacher must be invitational, enthusiastic, enabling, democratic and caring. In a grade-conscious world, turning them onto content often becomes a perilous business. Students frequently see learning as a means to an end. Grades equal certification and acceptance. Earning high grades is important, but intellectual development, curiosity, and character development are even more important. While we accept the necessary evil of grading, we must also encourage our students to go beyond grades—to internalize not just success, but also cognitive and affective development.
How I teach is really fairly simple. I rely on the part-whole method; that is, I break down larger assignments into manageable mini-units. In my intermediate reporting class, for instance, I will target a list of skills and attitudes that I want students to master. Then I decide how to best do that given the limits of the sixteen-week semester. My goal is to have them ready to report and write on a professional level, and to have experience with a variety of reporting assignments. Thus, students will have units where they learn how to interview, research databases, and observe. They will learn how to write hard leads, soft leads, and nut graphs, how to attribute properly, and how to use effective transitions. Then they will write articles based on their coverage of a city council meeting, a public speaker, and an academic panel. They will also complete a personality profile and an enterprise story. All along, they will keep a portfolio of their best work, and I will have them write reflective journal entries on how they perceive their development as a journalist during the semester.
I also believe that First Amendment literacy is central to the mission of journalism education. I must be an ambassador for freedom of expression. This means actively engaging my students in activities that highlight the importance of a free and democratic society.
It is my belief that each student has something of value to give to society. Ultimately, teachers strive to help students tap into their potentials. We are the emissaries between the world of higher education and the corporate world. The responsibility of teachers is to help our students become professionals with the highest standards and ethics.