Professors Should Be Paid for Theses

Today, in my required additional blog post I will be discussing why professors who agree to be a part of theses committees, as well as those who agree to be a committee chair, should be paid for their time commitments. On top of their already existing course work which they are required to both teach and grade, signing onto a committee is a large amount of work that they often do not get compensated for. Because of this, committee members may view the thesis process as a chore, and choose to ignore their advisee as I have come to experience within my own process. Because of this, paying a professor for their time working on a committee will in-turn provide the professor with an incentive for putting in the hours required to be a proper aid to the student, and will ultimately lead to a more successful thesis in the long run.

Continuing on, tenured professors should not be the only people capable to chair a thesis. Assistant professors who have been working their fingers to the bone are equally as willing to be a chair of a committee, but due to the existence of tenure, cannot. This hurts not only the student who truly wants that teacher to be the leader of their project, but also hinders the work that would then be produce by the student who was forced to change topics.

Our teachers do a significant amount of work in order to help us be successful. The work that they do should be compensated, and they should be able to work a normal 9-5 week without having to reach outside of their availability due strictly out of kindness. We should pay our teachers for their help on theses, and we should recognize them for the work they put in.

Future of the University

One thing that I feel should change within higher education is the fact that each individual who seeks to teach a course must also be a researcher, more common than not, held to a high regard. Although I understand that researchers have a place within academia, I feel that professors and researchers should not be synonymous. In addition, the entire idea of “tenure” is less than beneficial to the university, whereas it would be much more fitting for professors to be nomadic and bounce around from college to college similar to a draft in the athletic field. That way, world renowned scholars will not be the sole reason for a specific university to be known as the “top”, and it would allow for a much more level teaching environment for students to thrive in.

From there, with the removal of tenure, although I understand that it can be considered a “safety net” and offer “job security”, I have never truly understood why educators need to have any form of protection in the first place. Other jobs do not need any form of security, so why is it that the one profession meant to teach the youth of our country face so many trials?

Continuing on, tenure has been shown to be a way for teachers to finally begin working on their passions, wether that be their own book or otherwise, but can only do so after jumping through X amount of hoops. Through doing away with tenure, teaching can once again be seen as another job where people love to be doing what they do without worrying about getting fired for not producing an additional research paper.

Technology and Innovation in Higher Education

After reading “The What, Why & How of Social Media for Higher Education article posted to the website by an unknown author on an unknown date, it is apparent that the new technological innovation that is affecting higher education is social media. As noted by the piece, it seems that higher education faculty of various colleges are using social media to increase student engagement, raise brand awareness, and drive enrollment numbers through the roof. From there, LinkdIn, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are cited as being the largest contributors to positive responses, which is surprising seeing as Twitter tends to have the most engagement in terms of its users being based in academia. As the author states, “change is constant in digital marketing, but with a great social media strategy, higher education institutions can engage prospects, alumni, and current students on the devices and mediums they use every day.”

Being a Communication student here at Virginia Tech, the first ever engagement I had with a professor was through Twitter. Though a rather one-sided experience, Dr. J.D. Ivory has demonstrated that Twitter is truly the way of the future. Through sharing Communication related memes to simply speaking with varying academic scholars, Dr. Ivory has proven that there is a way for students to be engaged with their studies outside of the classroom in a way that is not necessarily considered to be a “bore”.

Open Access Blog Post

Today, I have chosen to talk about the American Communication Journal in my discussion regarding Open Access Journals in the field of communication. The journal was commissioned in 1996 during the Board of Directors of the American Communication Association meeting in Charleston, South Carolina and is edited by Dr. Md Abu Naser of the California State University, Bakersfield. The purpose of this journal is to publish “interdisciplinary scholarship on communication”. From there, the website itself describes its copyright statement as being dedicated to the open exchange of ideas and information, and is freely available to all schools. That being said, they also make a point by stating that any commercial use of the website or articles therein must be previously approved by Dr. Md Abu Naser. They do not say much else regarding their position within the open access movement.

These open access forums serve to only expand the world’s knowledge and involvement in the academic sphere. Through allowing intellectual property without a paywall allows for a much broader scope of thinking, and allows individuals to seek out answers to things that only those who could afford it could learn. The previous type of learning (one that requires a paywall) only shows that the old ways of the most elite in society being the ones to learn and grow intellectually should altogether be done away with, and it is websites like the American Communication Journal that keep that hope alive that one day, everyone can be able to know the answers they seek.

Problem Based Learning & Case Pedagogy

While reading on problem based learning, the idea of real world problem solving within the classroom is incredibly valuable to students. Sure, these are just college kids right now, but the end goal is for them to enter the workforce with abilities that would allow for a more informed decision making process based off of the knowledge they obtained during their time in university.

A personal example of what I experienced as an undergraduate at George Mason University was that, as a requirement to graduate in Public Relations, each student must engage with and work for a corporation in their PR department. As an intern for the government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, I had to work through problems with a team of five in order to satisfy our client’s needs and deal with real world, real time events with little to no notice.

Although I do not hope to become apart of the Public Relations world, I have gained a multitude of skills as a result of that engagement with Booz Allen. Since I took the class relatively early in my academic career, each class I took afterward felt like practice for what I had already gone through. I was able to take away key findings and present work greater than I had ever previously produced. Through incorporating problem based learning into our own personal teaching styles, our students will gain skills that they will hold with them forever, not just for the sake of passing a class.

Digital Pedagogy

This week in Contemporary Pedagogy, I dedicated time to reading through the articles assigned to us regarding Digital Pedagogy. Honestly, I found the readings to be rather interesting seeing as we are currently in a purely online format, or at least I am. From here, I was not necessarily sure what to make of the transition at first. I found myself craving the in person interaction, although I think we can all agree that it is nice not having to drive to campus each day. As for my students in the Public Speaking class I teach, I have absolutely found a difference in them between our in person classroom setting and the Zoom one. I feel as though they started to become a bit distant with their coursework and less engaged when the transition first occurred, however, that does not seem to be the case now.

I am not sure if this new shift is because we have more or less become “used to” the pandemic at hand, or if it is because we are purely online for the entirety of this semester. That being said, the only negative shift I have encountered seems to be our students overall attitudes. I often find myself having to play the role of a cheerier individual than I typically am in order to try and lighten the mood within the classroom, but I am not sure if that is because of the online delivery or not. I suppose that life is simply tough for all of us right now, and the only true way for me to tell the difference between online attitudes and in person attitudes is to teach online once the pandemic is totally over.

All in all, the readings this week definitely got the cogs in my brain turning. I am sure that I will continue to see digital pedagogy to some degree in my future, and I hope to become an even better teacher through this experience with Covid.

Inclusive Pedagogy

This week’s readings had me thinking a lot about the type of teacher I am. From thinking about the ways I communicate to my students, to considering what kind of subliminal cues I may be emitting, the articles truly had the cogs in my head turning.

Personally, whether I would like to admit or not, I am someone who spends a lot of time overanalyzing the presentations I make and the words I say because I believe that messages have impact. Because of that, the last thing I would ever want is for a student to feel as though I am excluding them in the classroom.  I always make an effort to make my classroom into a safe space where my students can feel comfortable to be themselves, and these days that is done solely by communication over Zoom. I explain often that we are all here to learn, and being a Public Speaking teacher specifically, I know how daunting the class as a whole can be for students who are petrified of speaking in front of a crowd.

Some ways I am able to communicate inclusivity to my students is by explaining that it is completely okay to feel nervous, and that even I do as well from time to time. I make an effort to humanize myself, and show them that its okay to not be perfect. From there, my students usually breathe a sigh of relief because we’re all on a journey together. After all, they are the ones who make me a better teacher, and it is my job to make them better speakers. In addition to that, I also allow for fun “hot seat” exercises on speech days where my students volunteer for me to ask them a random question. That normally makes them feel a bit comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, as well as allows the class to learn a little more about them. They all seem to really enjoy it, and the class as a whole ends up growing together as a community as a result.

Finding Your Teaching Voice

This semester, I am taking Contemporary Pedagogy in order to become a more effective instructor for the sake of my students. As an undergraduate, I have had a number of professors in the past who were truly impactful in making me into who I am today, and the best way I figured I could “pay it forward” is to continue to push on with my learning so that I too may be the driving force behind another students’ dream to become a professor.

This week’s readings went over finding your teaching voice as well as how to be yourself in the classroom. Having been a public speaking teacher to more than 240 students since my time began here at Tech, I found this reading to be very reflective of the lessons I had to learn along the way. From building an environment that was inclusive, to knowing the difference between being a friendly instructor and a push-over, I have had to evolve my teaching in order to grow as a teacher. Although I am still growing, I feel confident enough to be myself within my classroom, and I can tell it has a positive impact on the students I inform every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

From the reading, I specifically aligned myself with the thought process put forth by Sarah E. Deel. I put a strong focus on being approachable and enthusiastic, so much to the point where I received my favorite evaluation of all time: “Mans is a hoss, an absolute chief master” to whatever extent that means. I hope to continue to harbor such positivity and mindfulness within the classroom as well as while I continue on my journey to become a professor, following my dream and educating the youth of the world.

Ethics Blog Post

This week, I looked at the Jan. 14th ORI article regarding Dr. Ozgur Tataroglu’s recent research flub. Currently, it seems as though Tataroglu fabricated data intentionally with the purpose behind it being to further push themselves within the academic field. Here, Tataroglu’s sentence for having performed such an ethics violation seems to be a three year supervision on all of his future research, beginning on Dec. 20th, 2019. I find this sentencing to be appropriate because, hopefully, the other scientist working alongside Tataroglu would be able to double check his work with the intention of curving any potential fabrications.

Continuing on, plagiarism within academia seems to be a reoccurring phenomenon. Plagiarism, data fabrication, and other tools of destruction should have long been thrown out in terms of validity, but it seems as though we as a society are only now looking back on previous scholars who were once renowned in order to find out that they had manipulated their studying to worrying degrees.

In the future, with the invention of plagiarism tools such as TurnItIn and iThenticate, I hope that we will live in a world where we do not have to worry about if the studies we have held as fact are actually just a product of one’s own egotistical gain.

Mission Statements Blog (2/10)

Columbia University: It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions.

UCLA: UCLA’s primary purpose as a public research university is the creation, dissemination, preservation and application of knowledge for the betterment of our global society.

This week, I looked at Columbia University and UCLA’s mission statements. These schools were chosen because I was an undergraduate at both colleges, but never considered what their missions may have been. Seeing as they are both D1, R1 universities, the two places have a lot in common apart from their geographical location. I appreciate how Columbia prides itself in diversity, while UCLA’s focus is on benefitting the overall good of society.