University of Alabama in Huntsville Fall 2018 – Present
- CM 113 Public Speaking
- CM 313 Business and Professional Communication (face to face and hybrid sections)
- CM 451/551 Organizational Training and Development
- CM 331 Communication Theory
- CM 111 Oral Communication (Instructor of Record: face to face and online sections)
- CM 305 Interpersonal Communication (Instructor of Record)
- CM 320 Business Communication (Instructor of Record)
“Every day, Dr. Kelly led the class in an excited and passionate way.”
“Dr. Kelly is among the best teacher that I have ever had. She cares dearly about her students and pushes them to do their best.”
These are statements students often make in my teaching evaluations. I pride myself in making students of diverse backgrounds feel safe, welcomed, and able to succeed in my classes. My overarching pedagogical goal is to develop critical thinkers who can transfer knowledge from the classroom to their real lives. I am driven to prepare students to enter the professional world and make positive changes in society with excellent communication skills. In order to achieve these goals, I employ the following teaching strategies, measures of teaching effectiveness, and plans for continued improvement.
First, I place students at the center of my teaching and design classes that are needs-based and results-driven. Guided by my training and development experience, I use pre- and post-assessment surveys to ensure that my course objectives, assignments, lectures, and class activities will fit students’ needs. My pre-semester surveys ask students about their personal goals for the course, expectations, or concerns. For example, oral communication students complete McCroskey’s (1970) Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety Scale (PRPSA-34) and business communication students answer what aspects of business communication they are most interested in learning (e.g., self-presentation, job interviews, team collaboration). I encourage students to keep their goal in mind as we progress through the semester and look for course concepts or principles that can help them with their goal. This approach is intended to help students become more self-motivated and take ownership of their learning. Mid semester, I ask to what degree the students feel they have achieved their goals and what I can do better to help them achieve those goals. Then, at the end of the semester (where feasible), I ask students similar questions to measure the degree to which they feel they have achieved their goals and how I can adjust my teaching for future students. According to my end-of-semester survey data from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016 (n = 50 from 74 totally enrolled students), 68% of respondents answered 8 or above when asked to what degree they felt they had achieved their personal purpose for taking the course on the scale of 0 to 10.
Second, I use practical assignments and experiential learning to promote critical thinking and skills development. For example, my business communication students engage in a mock job interview with actual professionals in the community. My organizational training and development students develop and deliver an actual group training program for an office on campus or a non-profit organization. My interpersonal communication students keep journals and write an application paper discussing how a specific communication theory can help them enhance their own communication skills.
Third, I seek to develop a highly interactive classroom. I blend my lectures with a variety of activities such as small group discussions, student role plays, jeopardy games, impromptu speeches, peer-coaching activities, simulation exercises, and video clip analyses. For enhancing interactivity, I often incorporate technologies into my teaching such as Kahoot, Smule, Panopto, LinkedIn, and Google collaboration tools. For instance, to break the ice and get students to remember course policies on the first day of class, I get them to develop a rap song about the different course policies with help from Smule Auto Rap. These different teaching methods increase student engagement and facilitate students’ various learning styles (Beebe, Mottet, & Roach, 2013).
Fourth, I strive to build a positive interpersonal relationship with my students. Research has shown that a positive teacher-student relationship enhances affective and cognitive learning (Frymier & Houser, 2000) and I have seen this to be true in my personal teaching experience. I make sure to remember students’ names within the first couple of class sessions and call them by their nicknames. I use affiliative humor to build connections and identify with their experiences (Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003). For example, one time while we were discussing unlawful questions during a job interview in my business and professional communication class, a Korean-American student raised his hand and said puzzledly, “how come they asked me about my criminal records in my US citizenship interview two weeks ago?” I replied, “As a federal agency dealing with national security, the USCIS is allowed by law to ask you that question. They asked me that too.” The class laughed.
Fifth, I embrace diversity in my classroom and let my students know their voice is important to me. I find it pivotal to create a friendly, open, collaborative, and safe learning environment. I understand students come from different backgrounds and many struggle to manage multiple roles they play in life. Born and raised in a foreign country, I fully understand what it means to be different and I empathize with their struggles. As such, I set a strict deadline and attendance policy but always leave room for negotiation. I listen carefully to students’ unique situations and work with them to find a fair and win-win solution.
By following these principles, I allow my students to thrive and benefit from my classes which I consider the most important measure of my success in teaching. In the past year alone, several students in my Business and Professional Communication classes at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) were able to secure a prestigious internship, part-time, or full-time job within the same semester they took the course. Examples include the NASA Pathway Internship Program, Boeing, Deloitte, Dynetics, and Northrop Grumman. The students thanked me for my practical course content, assignments, and feedback. In addition to these tangible outcomes, I use the formal student course evaluations, my self-created assessments explained above, and students’ unsolicited emails or informal comments as my measures of teaching effectiveness as well as suggestions for further sharpening my teaching skills. My average student-rated score across the nine courses I taught at UAH in the past year is 4.67/5 (where 5 is the most positive).
Nonetheless, I do have room to improve. I tend to spend an excessive amount of time providing constructive and personalized feedback. Recently, I have improved on this point and plan to continually improve on it by grading assignments more promptly and efficiently. Another aspect I plan to improve on is to fine-tune my activities and assignments to fit my hybrid classes. While I have received mostly positive reviews from both my face-to-face and hybrid students, a few student comments have indicated that I can continue fine-tuning my activities for my hybrid classes. I plan to do so by having students learn the material online and meet face-to-face for skills development activities and class presentations.
All in all, I strive to inspire students to think critically and use what they learn to transform their lives and the lives of those around them. I do so by creating a classroom that is needs-based, results-driven, interactive, positive, inclusive, and respectful. With these strategies, I have been able to see positive and tangible results in my students. I also plan to improve on timely feedback and appropriate activities for a hybrid format. This teaching philosophy helps me ensure that most if not all of my students will thrive regardless of their ethno-racial or sociocultural backgrounds.
Beebe, S.A., Mottet, T.P., & Roach, K. D. (2013). Training and development: Communicating for success (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Frymier, A. B., & Houser, M. L. (2000). The teacher‐student relationship as an interpersonal relationship. Communication Education, 49, 207-219. https://doi.org/10.1080/03634520009379209
Martin, R. A., Puhlik-Doris, P., Larsen, G., Gray, J., & Weir, K. (2003). Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the humor styles questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 48-75.
McCroskey, J. C. (1970). Measures of communication-bound anxiety. Speech Monographs, 37, 269-277.