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Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Department Chair
Discover the Power of Communication

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Communication is an essential part of human life. It affects how we relate to each other, how we achieve success, and how we view reality. It has shaped the world we live in, and it will shape the world ahead. We invite you to discover the power of communication. Contact us today, and discover how the Department of Communication Studies at West Chester University can be a part of your future.

Department News

Forensics Team Brings Home 10 Gold Medals

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WCU Forensics Team
Our Award-Winning Forensics Team
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A year of hard work came to fruition as the West Chester University Forensics Speech and Debate Team dominated the Pennsylvania State Championship Tournament at Bloomsburg University on Feb. 15-16. The team bested second-place finisher Lafayette College by 429 points. WCU speakers took home gold medals in 10 of the 12 individual events, and boasted the top four pentathlon speakers.

Special recognition goes to Jillian Heagerty who earned first place in persuasive speaking and thereby earned a place in the Interstate Oratorical Competition. This tournament is the longest-running speech competition in the United States, and will be held at James Madison University in April.

With only two regular season tournaments left, coach Mark Hickman and graduate assistant Kelsey Hockenberger look forward to achieving victories at the American Forensics Association National Tournament and the National Forensics Association National Tournament in April.

The State Championship results:

Dan Hinderliter, senior Honors middle grades education/communication studies major (Allentown, Pa.): first place, Pentathlon; first place, Informative Speaking; first place, Duo Interpretation with Kellen Kane; first place, Extemporaneous Speaking; first place, Parliamentary Debate speaker; second place, Parliamentary Debate with Ashley Murphy; third place, Prose Interpretation; third place, Dramatic Interpretation; fourth place, Persuasive Speaking.

Daquann Chung, senior communication studies major (Pocono Lake, Pa.): second place, Pentathlon; first place, Dramatic Interpretation; first place, Poetry Interpretation; second place, Prose Interpretation; second place, Rhetorical Criticism; second place, Duo Interpretation with Emily Herman.

Jillian Heagerty, senior English major (Glen Mills, Pa.): third place, Pentathlon; first place, Persuasive Speaking; first place, After Dinner Speaking; first place, Rhetorical Criticism; third place, Informative Speaking; fourth place, Extemporaneous Speaking; fifth place, Impromptu Speaking.

Joe Tetreault, senior history education major (Southampton, N.J.): fourth place, Pentathlon; first place, Program Oral Interpretation; second place, Poetry Interpretation; third place, Rhetorical Criticism; fourth place, Dramatic Interpretation; fourth place, Impromptu Speaking; fourth place, Duo Interpretation with Josh Shapiro.

Josh Shapiro, junior English major (Holland, Pa.): sixth place, Pentathlon; second place, Informative Speaking; second place, Impromptu Speaking; fourth place, Poetry Interpretation; fourth place, Duo Interpretation with Joe Tetreault.

Ashley Murphy, senior Honors English education/special education major (Lake Ariel, Pa.): second place, Parliamentary Debate with Dan Hinderliter; third place, Extemporaneous Speaking; sixth place, Poetry Interpretation.

Kellen Kane, freshman Honors chemistry major (Sunbury, Pa.): first place, Duo Interpretation with Dan Hinderliter; second place, Dramatic Interpretation; second place, After Dinner Speaking; third place, Duo Interpretation with Lauren Christ.

Imani Thomas, junior communication studies major (Wyndmoor, Pa.): first place, Prose Interpretation; second place, Program Oral Interpretation.

Emily Herman, freshman Honors pre-med major (West Chester, Pa.): second place, Duo Interpretation with Daquann Chung; fourth place, Prose Interpretation; fifth place, Persuasive Speaking.

Tarik Williams, junior English major (Effort, Pa.): second place, Parliamentary Debate speaker; sixth place, After Dinner Speaking.

Adam Franklin, freshman Honors communication studies and fine arts major (Mechanicsburg, Pa.): third place, After Dinner Speaking.

Lauren Christ, freshman pre-major (Tamaqua, Pa.): third place, Duo Interpretation with Kellen Kane.

Rebecca Anderson, sophomore Honors economics and finance major (Williamsport, Pa.): third place, Program Oral Interpretation.

International Programs Available for COM Students

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Communication Studies students who are interested in international courses have an increasing number of options related to their major. For more about the international experience, check out this video featuring WCU undergrads who studied in Ireland last year. If you want to learn more about the programs, contact Dr. Lordan at elordan@wcupa.edu.

Dr. Brown Appointed to NCA Student Outcomes Workgroup

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Dr. Timothy Brown, Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, has been appointed to lead one of six faculty workgroups for the Student Outcomes Project of the National Communication Association (NCA). His appointment to this prestigious post was recently announced by NCA President Steven Beebe and NCA's Executive Director, Nancy Kidd.

The National Communication Association received a grant of over $600,000.00 from the Lumina Foundation to fund the project, the largest grant NCA has ever received to create national standards for students of communication. The project will explore bridging the Tuning process and the Degree Qualifications Profile within the discipline of communication. Tuning is a collaborative process that convenes experts in a discipline to identify and articulate the distinctive skills, methods, and substantive range of the discipline. To learn more about the project, visit http://www.natcom.org/tuningproject/.

COM Professors launch MOOC on intercultural communication

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A team of three professors in the Department of Communication Studies (Dr. Anita Foeman, Dr. Bessie Lawton and Dr. Philip A. Thompsen) recently published the department's first MOOC (Massively Open Online Course). Their free online course is entitled "A World of Difference: Exploring Intercultural Communication."

Wikipedia defines a MOOC as "an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web." MOOCs have been a growing trend in higher education, and have been offered by many different institutions, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Temple, The University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University.

The three COM professors involved in the project did most of the work developing the content for their MOOC this past summer. They received support for the project from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Distance Education. Many of the videos were recorded in the University's Digital Media Center.

"A World of Difference: Exploring Intercultural Communication" was launched on the Udemy platform in October, and over 200 students from around the world enrolled within the first month. Many of those students have already completed the course and have left positive feedback. Although students do not receive academic credit for completing the course, the Udemy system does provide them with a certificate of completion.

For more information, watch the promo video above, or visit the course page at https://www.udemy.com/intercultural.

Faculty research: Experiment shows limited influence of news coverage on perceptions of media effects

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Dr. Boyle's research on factors affecting the third-person perception was published in the most recent issue of the Atlantic Journal of Communication. The third-person perception is the persistent finding that we view others as more likely to be affected by negative influences of media (such as video games) than we see ourselves as being affected. This study considered how news story characteristics, such as depictions of who is affected and how they are affected, could have implications for individual assessments of the effects of video games on self and others. The experiment also considering the role of more stable beliefs such as maternalism, paternalism, and assessments of media vulnerability. Results indicate that more permanent factors superseded the effects of the news story manipulations. Ultimately, the data show limited influence of media coverage on effects perceptions and suggest that such person perceptions are driven more by long-standing beliefs. This indicates that perceptions of media effects - particularly whether you think others are more affected by media than you are - are driven more by deeply-held beliefs than news stories that could potentially support or contradict your beliefs. The research was co-authored by Mike Schmierbach from Penn State University and Douglas M. McLeod from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Boyle, M.P., Schmierbach, M., & McLeod, D.M. (2013). Pre-existing factors or media effect?: Understanding the third-person perception. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 21:230–246.

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