Thursday, November 15, 2018

Proud moments: Grad students shine at SWECJMC

I'm super proud of our graduate students who presented at SWECJMC in Denver. You'd never know it was their first presentations as academics. Here's the university's news article. It's always fun to catch up with colleagues at SWECJMC. Think about joining us in New Orleans next year!

SWECJMC picture
Tarleton State Grad Students on the MSU-Denver campus
while presenting at SWECJMC. Photo by Dr. Shearon Roberts. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Follow-up: Encouraging Students to Jump In

Great news! Two of our Tarleton graduate students who "jumped in" and submitted papers to the Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication were accepted! It's nice to see their hard work acknowledged and the opportunity before them to learn from colleagues at other institutions and network at their first academic conference this November.

Congrats to Devynn Case for her ethics case study titled, "The tribe has spoken OUT: Survivor, transgender issues, and the Ubuntu approach," and to Logan Case for his research project titled, " Gender differences in student descriptions of professors."

Program screenshot

Program screenshot

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Conference season: Encouraging students to jump in

Lately, I've been spending energy encouraging our graduate students to submit their work to academic conferences. Simply saying, "It's good for you and your career" is not a persuasive sell when students have so many other responsibilities vying for their attention and travel can be a financial strain.

Here is a list of reasons attending a conference as a graduate student (or undergraduate!!!) is a good idea. Please feel free to add:
  1. Scope - You will see your academic field as a larger entity. We get used to our bubbles on campus. Your department is your world right now, but go to a conference and you will see how small that viewpoint can be.
  2. Standings - Many times, I have very humble students who don't think they qualify or can compete on a larger stage. I am always so proud when they try, and realize, yes, I am as good (or better) than that student from a Research I institution. I've had undergraduate students rock presentations where they were the only undergrads at the conference. I've had master's students presenting at conferences surprised to meet doctoral students from top universities who reported being too nervous to attempt a presentation. 
  3. Energy and Excitement - You will be surrounded by people passionate about your field. It's hard not to let that enthusiasm motivate you to something bigger. One student was so excited by all of the research he heard, that he exclaimed, "Dr. Maben, research is fun!" I wish he had come to that observation during my class...but it *is* fun to see what others are researching. Sometimes, the reboot is exactly what you needed during the semester.
  4. Real People - I laugh when students tell me that Dr. So-in-so is actually a funny person when you go to conferences with her/him. I myself still fan-girl a bit when I see a researcher I have quoted in publications. Researchers and professors are REAL people. You can meet that citation you've been writing over and over, or get to know your own institution's professors better.
  5. Extra Mileage  - You've gone to a LOT of work to write that paper or conduct that research. Get the most mileage out of it by presenting at a conference and then use the feedback to fine-tune the project for possible publication. In my master's program, I didn't think my work was good enough to present. Dirty secret: Yes, much of your work is presentable. Work with your professors to take a project from class-ready to conference-ready. This is another great way to get individualized help from your professors. Just think, down the road, you might be conducting research together as peers.
  6. Ambassadors - By presenting at conferences, you are showing off your program and school. This is a commodity in the academic world. 
So, now you're interested in going. Let your professors know. They can help identify student-friendly conferences and how to submit a quality product. Your university will likely have money to help send you to conference (see no. 6). I have yet to hear students say that going to a conference was a mistake.

What selling point has worked best in your efforts to encourage (or cajole) students to attend conferences?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mini-conference: Easy class transformation

Transforming your classroom into a mini-conference takes a bit of planning, but it's well worth the effort. For my graduate ethics course, I have been slowly adding more conference-like attributes each semester. You could do this for almost any level of course, with any student presentations. Students can get an introduction to conferences in a low stakes environment.

Our conference was Ethics beyond Utilitarianism: 2018 Case Study Conference, where panels of four students presented their cases in 5-8 minutes, with about 15 minutes left for Q&A.

Transforming Class into a Conference Experience
Explain conference-style - Students may have no point of reference for "conference-style" so you will need to educate them about expectations for your field. Beforehand, I shared videos (through our learning management system) from our national conference to help set the stage. This is where you can share valuable tips like using your phone's timer to monitor your own time while presenting, checking the room's technology before your session, and having your presentation loaded on the presentation computer before the panel begins.

Room organization - If you're lucky enough to be in a room where furniture moves, organize your tables for a panel presentation in the front with audience-style seating for attendees.

Program - Ask students for the names/topics of their papers or presentations ahead of time. Work those into a program with three or four students on a panel. Print hard copies of the programs to hand out as students enter the conference.

Roles - Seek volunteers for moderators and discussants — or assign these conference duties to students interested in attending other conferences. Add their names/roles to the program. Remember to give students a short primer about these roles and expectations. Explain the role of the audience to ask questions, and when and how to do that.

Publicity -  Advertise your mini-conference to your department head, colleagues and other classes meeting at the same time. Outside attendees can make it feel more like a conference, and students can share their findings with a larger audience.

Debrief - Be sure to explain the conference experience after each panel finishes. You are essentially using your class as a conference simulation. We talked about how to facilitate networking following your presentation, adding your social handles to your presentation or nametag, how to handle wonky questions from the audience, and the awkwardness of being in front of the crowd while the other panelists present.

Individual feedback - After the conference, I emailed individual feedback to each panelist.

In the future, I want to incorporate live video feeds and answering questions from virtual attendees. My hope is that more students will consider submitting their work to a conference because they have had a small taste of the experience.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What to do when the magic isn't there

Have you ever had a class that just wasn't clicking? I started this post in a different semester and waited to hit publish. For some reason, something was amiss. Instead of writing it off, I decided there is always time for a turnaround.

Before the semester spirals away, here are suggestions:
  1. Don't panic. All is not lost. So many factors are at play in our courses. Not every course in every semester will be magical.
  2. Talk to a colleague, preferably a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) fan. Your campus center for instructional innovation or teaching excellence likely has resources or mentors you could tap for inspiration. We mistakenly think of teaching as a solo mission. Others have been there and done that. Reach out and ask.
  3. Survey your students. Surprise! Your students may be feeling the disconnect, too. I use a three question anonymous online survey. Q1: What do you like about our class. Q2: What would you change? Q3: What else would you like to add? My students have thanked me for even thinking to ask them.
  4. Make notes so you don't end up in the same situation again. A colleague marks up the syllabus with ideas for the next semester. I love this idea! Do yourself a favor and keep a record. You'll thank yourself as you plan for future semesters.
  5. Take a look at yourself. Brace yourself for might not just be the students. It could be something going on with you. Or maybe your class radar is a bit off. Are you getting burned out on that particular course? Is it time to infuse new techniques or learn something yourself? Professional development opportunities abound.
  6. Make changes. I don't think it's ever too late in the semester for interventions.
How did my class turnout? After surveying my students, I found that my perceptions of the course tanking were not as dire as I thought. See No. 5. Student perceptions were that the course was rocking along, with only a few small changes mentioned. With that panic behind me (see No. 1), I worked to incorporate student suggestions from the survey into our course design.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Celebrate Teaching Week

This week is Celebrate Teaching Week on my campus, with guest speakers, a teaching conference and even a fun run. In addition to the external celebration, I think it's also a call for an internal review of our own teaching efforts and innovations. Here are just some musings on ways to reflect on your teaching this week:
apple graphic

Your Teaching Goals
Use this free online survey to measure goals specific to teaching one class (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Check how essential you believe certain skills are, and how they prioritize with your teaching structures.

Your Dominant Teaching Style
Grasha-Reichmann have a survey for assigning your dominant and secondary teaching styles. A free online version will give you feedback on if you're more of a facilitator, delegator, expert, formal authority, or personal model.

Your Teaching Brand
Like a great company, you have a brand. These might be the words your students and colleagues use to describe you or the words you use to describe your teaching. Can you boil it down to a catchy tagline? Or try pasting student evaluations into a word cloud generator for a visual representation.

Your Teaching Philosophy
What do you believe is "teaching" and what is "learning"? Whose responsibility are these concepts? How do you share in this teaching and learning adventure with your students? You may have written a statement while on the academic job search, but when is the last time you looked at it? Give it a review and possibly an update. Or create one. Your Center for Instructional Innovation will likely have a repository of examples. This document has a variety of examples that begin on page 160.

Your Teaching Conversations
Open a dialog about teaching with a campus colleague, maybe even one from a different department or college. Ask about interesting classroom techniques and projects. Our colleagues have so much to share as far as ideas you will want to replicate in your own course. These conversations could be the start of creative collaborations between two classes.

How do you celebrate teaching? What strategies do you use for reflecting on your teaching?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

JSMS call for special issue

The Journal of Social Media in Society is excited to announce a special issue -- Contemporary Perspectives: Social Media and Enterprise Engagement.

For decades, business has been concerned about employee engagement, marketing departments have been concerned about customer engagement, and universities have been concerned about student engagement. A new approach has been introduced that looks at engagement as a process, independent of the particular audience. Enterprise Engagement is a formal business process that helps achieve organizational goals and objectives by proactively involving all of the people who can contribute to the organization’s success (Bolger & Schweyer, Enterprise Engagement and ISO Standards, 2017).

Objectives of this Special Issue
The objective of this special issue is to contribute to the body of knowledge in both social media (SM) and the exciting new area of management called Enterprise Engagement, or Quality People Management, by examining the intersection of these two fields of study. A second objective is to investigate ways social media can be used to provide more meaningful and tangible outcomes to organizations by use or integration of social media in organizational processes that will enhance employee, customer, supplier, and vendor engagement.

Scope of the Journal
The Journal of Social Media in Society is blind peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal that accepts scholarly articles and book reviews. The journal is devoted to scholarship and commentary on social media and its impact on society. The objective of JSMS is to advance the study of social media with current literature based on theory, research and practice from all methodological frameworks.

Recommended Topics
This special issue is looking for empirical studies that offer insight into and the impact of social media on the various elements of quality people management. Preference will be given to those manuscripts that provide specific and tangible application of the results to the field. Topics include, but are not limited to, the impact on or use of SM with regard to the following (from, retrieved December 2017):
• Practices that continually aligns business activities with customer needs.
• Communications that connect the entire organization to values, goals and objectives.
• Recruitment to ensure the selection of people appropriate to their function.
• Engagement strategically implemented so that people feel committed to continuous improvement and the culture in the organization.
• Teamwork and collaboration so that teams function effectively and efficiently.
• Practices that involve and inspire employees.
• Building creativity and innovation into the culture and rewards system.
• Recognition and rewards strategically used to foster involvement.
• Networking within all parts of organizations to foster alignment, trust, and collaboration.
• Work environments that foster proactive communication, participation, and effectiveness.
• Measures of overall engagement, employee engagement, customer and vendor engagement.

Submission Procedure
Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit papers for this special issue of the JSMS, Contemporary Perspectives: Social Media and Enterprise Engagement on or before December 31, 2018. Authors should send a query or outline to the Edition Editor (listed below) prior to submitting the paper. All submissions must be original works and may not be under review by another publication. The appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) documentation should be on file with the researcher’s institution and shall be provided upon request of the Edition Editor. Authors should refer to the JSMS author guidelines for submissions at:

To submit a paper for review, create an author account on the JSMS website, then go to the submissions page at:

Important Dates for Submitting to this Special Issue
Submissions to the Journal: Today through December 31, 2018
Revision/Acceptance notification: On or before March 31, 2019
For submissions selected that require revisions, revised manuscript due: On or before June 30, 2019
Final decision notification: On or before September 30, 2019
Publication: December 2019

All inquiries for this special edition should be directed to the attention of: Dr. Randy McCamey
Edition Editor, Contemporary Perspectives: Social Media and Enterprise Engagement
If you would like to be a reviewer for this special issue of the JSMS, please send a summary vita to Dr. McCamey.

Please feel free to share this call with your colleagues.

Friday, January 12, 2018

How to make a journal editor happy

I have learned a lot about submitting manuscripts from being on the receiving end as a journal editor. Instead of giving a list of my pet peeves, I would rather focus on the positive. Every issue, I am delighted by authors more than I am driven crazy. Delight can come from simple kindness in an email or just following instructions. So, here are ways to make one journal editor happy:

Follow the style guide
  • Take the time to tailor your manuscript to the journal's style guide. Yes, it's a pain, but it also tells the editor that you are serious about publication. (If you leave it in the style of the journal to which you previously submitted, a journal editor can tell.)
  • You don't have to get fancy and mimic the paginated look with text boxes. This only gives the paginating editor the nightmare of copying material from a text box into the main flow of the article.
  • If the journal uses a style guide you don't know well, look for a manuscript editor on your campus or in your community. Shout out to Lacie Harris at Tarleton State! She's an awesome editor and helps our faculty submit cleaner manuscripts.
Make substantial changes based on reviewer feedback
  • Provide a memo or table addressing how you handled each reviewer comment. This makes it so much easier for an editor to see that you valued the feedback and truly used it to better the manuscript.
  •  This is a great time to find more current or robust citations, too.
Make sure your in-text citations match up with your reference list
  • Use the "find" feature in your file, or simply cross reference every citation.
  • With multi-author papers, and ones that have experienced many revisions, cited works change. Make it your job, not the editor's, to catch these kinds of edits.
Be responsive
  • Update your email system to prioritize messages from editors, or at least prevent them from going to your spam folder. You want to respond in a timely manner. Editors are deadline-driven.
  • If given a deadline for proofing or other tasks, respond before your given deadline. This may help an editor move the publication along even faster. 
  • When you respond, double check that you have addressed all of the editor's questions. Do so thoroughly. Inaccurate or missing elements may make an editor doubt the quality of your research.
Remember that editors are people, too. Well, sometimes...
  • Be nice in your messages, or at least professional. I do not mind an email asking for a status update, as long as it's not rude or snarky. Some editors are not receiving huge stipends, course release, or anything beyond a line on the service category of a vitae to do what they do. 
  • Thank an editor after you read a great issue. Or after your article publishes.