The Foreign Language Institute at Missouri State University often gets phone calls and emails about language learning. Students and community members alike are interested in learning a new language, but are concerned about what that entails.
“I could go on for days about the benefits of learning a language,” said Kelly Schlinder, coordinator of the Foreign Language Institute. “Perhaps one of the most important for students are the cognitive benefits language learners receive.”
An event for the community
On April 21 from 6-7 p.m., the Foreign Language Institute and the department of modern and classical languages will host a Community Language Open House at the Jim D. Morris Center. During the open house, language instructors will provide 20-minute lessons on various languages.
These short lesson “bursts” will give attendees an opportunity to understand what learning a language is like and what to expect during a typical class.
“We’ll have 16 language instructors present as well as representation from every language offered at Missouri State,” said Schlinder.
“We’ll also have representatives from the student language clubs on campus. It’s important that students practice language outside of the classroom. Clubs are great resources to learn from and with peers. Many of these clubs are also joined by native language speakers, which is a huge plus for language learners.”
Lessening the pressure
Though the institute has never held an event like this before, it is hopeful the open house will benefit all prospective learners.
“Maybe potential learners have a personal connection to a language but don’t know what learning a language looks like in a classroom setting,” said Schlinder.
“Maybe they aren’t sure which of two languages might benefit them most, or maybe they’re not sure if they have the aptitude to learn a language. It’s a scary prospect to attempt to learn something so big, so we want to lessen the pressure and give them an idea of what they can expect in a language class at Missouri State.”
Many of the classes are held after 4 p.m., making them ideal for community members, high schoolers and other potential students.
For more information, contact Schlinder at 417-836-5497.
Blackmon is currently in Jordan with Dr. Andrew Cline, associate professor in media, journalism and film, and a group of alumni — members of the documentary production team Carbon Trace Productions. The team is working in conjunction with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), filming the work of Dr. Bakdash and others in Jordan’s refugee camps.
The team is gathering footage for a documentary with the working title Syrian Doctor. They’re also recording interviews with SAMS doctors, and Andrew Twibell, assistant professor in media, journalism and film, will direct a group of students in editing the interviews.
Given current events, many people have expressed concern about the Syrian Doctor team’s security. Cline assured us that he and the rest of the team feel safe. “We have no extra security concerns because Jordan is a stable U.S. ally,” he said, “and we are more than 200 miles from where the strike occurred.”
Provost Frank Einhellig is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Shawn Wahl to the position of interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters. Dr. Wahl joined Missouri State University as the head of the department of communication in 2012. Prior to joining Missouri State, Dr. Wahl was the department head of communication, mass media and theatre at Angelo State University.
In addition to his service as department head at Missouri State, he has represented the department heads in Academic Leadership Council. He recently completed a term as president of the Central States Communication Association, and he completed a Management Development Program Fellow experience with the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2016. Dr. Wahl has maintained an active national research profile; he currently focuses on communication education, college teaching, university leadership and the intercultural dimensions of higher education. Dr. Wahl will assume his role as interim dean on July 1, 2017 when Dr. Gloria Galanes retires.
COMWeek is one of the communication department’s signature events: a week-long immersion in some of the biggest topics in the field. It also includes plenty of opportunities to network and socialize with communication scholars, professionals and students.
Each year, visiting scholars present their research, and the week concludes with an alumni panel so that current communication students can learn from the professional perspectives of recent graduates.
This year, COMWeek also provided professional training opportunities for four students, who served as the PR intern team. They gained practical experience with many of the most sought-after skills in public relations, such as event planning, promotion and coordination.
The student team consisted of Jacob Burke, Megan Hayes, Bryar Keyes and Tina Pham, who first began working on the plan as part of a class project.
According to Dr. Shawn Wahl, communication department head, “The students proposed a public relations and marketing plan in COM 379: Writing for Public Relations. Several of them wanted to gain more experience by actually executing the public relations and marketing plan they worked on during the Fall 2016 semester.”
After considering the students’ proposal, Wahl agreed to give them a huge stake in one of the department’s most important events.
“We were biting at the opportunity to get more responsibility,” team member Bryar said.
Learning to work within a brand
Just as communication professionals must learn to work within specific branding guidelines or creative directives, the COMWeek team was tasked with building a PR plan around Missouri State’s brand.
“Working with the brand was a big thing,” Bryar said. “It was a lot of fun because it gave us so much to go with. But we had to incorporate it and follow all the rules and guidelines in a specific way.”
Uniting the promotional materials around a consistent theme wasn’t always easy. During many months of planning, the students had to challenge themselves and stretch their skills into new areas of design, writing and organization.
When asked how they pushed through moments of doubt and exhaustion, team member Tina said they’d remind each other, “this is a big thing for our department, one that we love, so we’re going to get back into it. And we’d just take off again. That was the only way to do it.”
Mentorship and support
While COMWeek offered the student team the chance to exercise their professional skills, they got to do so within a supportive environment, where they were surrounded by expert mentorship.
In addition to Wahl’s guidance, the team also relied on instructor Didem Koroglu, who first proposed they create the PR plan in COM 379, and they shared that all communication faculty provided support, as did administrative assistant Suzanne Moskalski and Dr. Gloria Galanes, dean of the College of Arts and Letters.
“I think that’s what really helped us get through COMWeek,” Tina said.
Naturally, they experienced pre-event jitters. Team member Megan said, “The first day it started getting down to time, and we were like, ‘Guys, is anyone going to come?’”
“You know those butterflies,” Tina agreed.
But the team had nothing to worry about. Not only did people come, but according to Wahl, “Communication Week 2017: Make Your Missouri Statement was the most successful event in department history. I am so proud of the work of the public relations students. Overall, they did a wonderful job executing the public relations plan.”
And Wahl’s instinct that the students were ready for this challenge paid off. “I have confidence,” he said, “that this applied experience in public relations, marketing and event planning will help them as they compete for the best jobs across industries.”
The Missouri State University Foundation Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service are intended to provide incentives for continued performance to a select number of full-time faculty who evidence significant accomplishments in teaching, research and/or creative activities, and service.
Hughes’ association with public affairs stems not only from his lifetime engagement with politics and society, but also from his role within America’s literary tradition.
“He’s a tremendously important figure — a giant,” Calihman said. “He had great influence on contemporaries.”
Calihman’s own research includes African American writers from the 1960s and 1970s, some of whom received direct encouragement from Hughes. “He was tremendously important in terms of cultivating African American writers,” Calihman said.
About visiting scholar Dr. Carmaletta Williams
Dr. Williams is the author of Langston Hughes in the Classroom (National Council of Teachers of English; 2006) and the co-editor of My Dear Boy: Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926-1938 (U of Georgia P; 2013). She won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Zora Neale Hurston on Kansas City Public TV and Kansas City Public Library’s program Meet the Past.
The office of academic integrity provides support and resources for faculty who are dealing with plagiarism, cheating and other issues of academic integrity. Its coordinator, Katie Stinnett, recently shared some thoughts that may be helpful for anyone looking to more effectively address these issues.
Common areas of concern
Stinnett described common areas of concern. Some relate to student activities (particularly social media behaviors), but there are other areas where faculty play proactive roles in prevention and enforcement.
Management and communication challenges
In Stinnett’s experience, students who are struggling with time management or communication are more vulnerable to choices that compromise their academic integrity.
Faculty can help by crafting clear, specific assignment instructions and making students aware of campus resources, such as the Writing Center and the counseling center, which helps students who feel overwhelmed and anxious about juggling class assignments.
Not understanding the consequences
Stinnett says that some students may be aware that they’re violating academic integrity but don’t believe the consequences will be that bad.
Accountability can change this dynamic, and it’s most effective when the standards are enforced consistently — across different disciplines and by different instructors. Stinnett encourages all faculty to register academic integrity concerns with her office, so that they can be properly documented and addressed.
Sometimes, Stinnett shared, even a student who wouldn’t consider plagiarizing someone else’s content may commit an academic integrity violation through self-plagiarism, or “double dipping.” This occurs when the student reuses original work for multiple classes.
Double dipping can be especially tricky for upper-level or graduate students, who are naturally inclined to work on the same subject matter across multiple classes.
Stinnett says that students who wish to revisit or reimagine work created for previous classes should be straightforward with their instructors.
Faculty can then help prevent self-plagiarism by providing clear criteria that will be used to judge a student’s new contributions or progress. For example, an instructor might require the student to turn in all the drafts of a project, so that the instructor can fully evaluate the significance of changes between drafts.
Adhering to academic integrity standards may become more complex during group assignments. One scenario Stinnett mentioned: one group member does not contribute to an assignment but is awarded credit based on the work of the group.
Stinnett suggested using group evaluation forms, which require each group member to assess the contributions of other group members. Requiring evaluations — and making students aware that they will be evaluated by their peers — can help hold individuals accountable in group assignments.
There is an academic integrity tutorial that can be added to any course’s Blackboard.
Find it by visiting: Blackboard > Content Collection > Institution Content > Academic Integrity Content
This tutorial is free for use in any course, and instructors can require students to review the tutorial and take the associated exam.
Academic Integrity Days
The office of academic integrity is hosting a series of events, March 28 – March 30. Stinnett shared that these events have been highly effective. “In a 60- or 90-minute session,” she said, “I can get through to students, partly because I’m not their teacher. I force reflection so that students will stop and think about their own behavior.”