Courses

These are courses that I have taught at the University of Illinois. For courses I did not design, I have not made the syllabi available. Courses are listed in alphabetical order.

Introduction to Communication Theory and Research

Introduction to Communication Theory and Research is an introductory course that is taken by both communication majors and non-majors. It serves as an introduction to both the field of communication and to the Department of Communication at UIUC. As an introduction to the field, it is a survey course that covers: argumentation, health communication, interpersonal communication, family communication, media and political communication, and other related areas. The focus is on areas of communication taught by faculty members at UIUC. As an introduction to the department, it includes practical information about why a communication major or minor is valuable, the courses taught, and other services offered by the department. The course has encouraged many students to add communication as a major or minor.

Money, Media, and Power

Money, Media, and Power is an introduction to the Political Economy of Communication.  It has been taught as both large lecture course  and a small section. It is taken primarily, although not exclusively, by upper-level communication undergraduates. The course covers a range of topics related to U.S. political economy and the interaction between the media industries, capitalism, and politics. For example, Dr. McChesney covers public relations from a critical perspective, emphasizing how PR can be used to spin events and limit public deliberation about issues. Students are given a strong introduction to the Political Economy of Communication and critical communication studies.

Media and Youth Culture

In the summer 2014, I taught a course that I designed, Media and Youth Culture. The course was designed as an introduction to media literacy for upper-level communication undergraduates. Students learned about the concept of media literacy and how media literacy courses were taught. Then, we covered a variety of issues that could be covered by a media literacy workshop, such as female representation in the media, diversity in the media, and the media and politics. Students made regular progress toward their final project: a media literacy workshop. The workshop was a group project that involved multiple stages: an initial proposal and presentation, a final presentation, and a reflection. In their evaluations of the course, many students indicated that they found the workshop valuable as a final project because it forced them to learn enough that they could teach others.

Popular Media and Culture

The theme of popular media and culture rotates. In Spring 2018, the theme was “World-making: The Past and the Future.” The class was structured around the concept of world-making, which addresses how media texts can shape a rich world bound by its own rules. Within these worlds, stories take place. The course introduced students to the concept and showed how various media texts situated in the past or present are part of a cultural struggle over meaning. For example, texts like Star Trek: Deep Space 9 directly addresses narratives about discrimination and police brutality to complicate depictions of the past and prompt discussion about the possibilities of the future. The imagined world of Deep Space 9 is hopeful, like most Star Trek franchises, but also offers a deeper view into the problems and anxieties of American culture.

The course was a large lecture with about one hundred students, most of whom were upper-level communication students. I had a variety of administrative duties in addition to teaching some material. I coordinated the iClicker participation questions, which combined review of material and discussion prompts. I also helped write the weekly quizzes, mid-term, and final exam. I gave guest lectures on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Blade Runner.

Propaganda and Modern Society

Propaganda and Modern Society is an upper-level communication course that addresses the history and development of public relations and propaganda in the twentieth century. Students within the Department of Communication and the College of Media, usually PR or advertising majors, take the course. The course addresses how PR and propaganda were used during both World Wars, as well as how both have been used for commercial and political purposes from the post-war period through the present.

 The course is taught in two 35 person sections with discussion sections prior to each of the three exams. Students also write three response papers during the course of the semester. Students were given a choice between three topics for each response paper. I developed the topics, as well as the grading rubric for the papers. I worked with students on their papers and helped them prepare for exams. I also guest lectured on the relationship between lobbying, PR, and advertising during one semester and corporate social responsibility during another semester.

Public Communication in Everyday Life (Online)

Public Communication in Everyday Life addresses the boundary between public and private. Students learn to consider what the definition of “public” is and how that relates to citizenship, civility, and the public sphere. Students were primarily sophomores and juniors. As an online course, Public Communication requires students to write regularly through weekly assignments including discussion posts and response papers. Through carefully structured weeks, students watch video lecture, engage in discussion about course concepts and complete quizzes and response papers that evaluate their knowledge of course material. In addition, I divided students into groups to complete a class dictionary, with each group defining terms for most weeks of the course. I also evaluated students two’ final assignments: a final exam and a field piece concept video that addressed a concept or concepts

Public Speaking

Communication 101 is an introductory course that is taken by both communication majors and non-majors. Typically, the course is taken by freshmen. The course includes 5 speeches: an introductory speech, a demonstration speech, an informative speech, a persuasive speech, and a special occasion speech. It is a skills-based course, so class periods typically involve impromptu speaking activities. Communication 101 is taught in sections capped at 19 students. In these sections, graduate students usually serve as the instructor of record for the course. As an instructor for this course, I lectured daily and administered all grades.

During Fall 2014, I taught a service learning version of the course. The syllabus is available at the previous link. After consultation with my course director and reading about service learning teaching methods, I chose to alter the informative and persuasive speeches to reflect the students’ ongoing service requirements. In addition, students had to write reflection papers reflecting on the relationship between their volunteer activities and public speaking. Students’ reflections demonstrated that they saw public speaking as a valuable tool for making change.