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Articles tagged with: communications

21 Sep

For the last three years, The Department of Communication Studies at West Virginia University has worked with Seelio, an Ann Arbor-based start up that allows students to showcase their work in an online portfolio.
The digital portfolio service is free to students and has grown since its debut in 2012. Although used by students on over 800 campuses, WVU is one of only a select number of partner universities with exclusive access to a full-service, custom network of portfolios.

“We feel very fortunate to have found Seelio – for many reasons. We are able to use Seelio as a platform for student learning and development as well as collaboration in the classroom,” said Andrea Weber, associate professor and undergraduate curriculum coordinator for communication studies.

“It is a great resource for students to reflect and showcase to employers how both in-an-out of classroom learning translates to the professional world. I just can’t say enough about the flexibility and usefulness of this tool.”

David Nesbitt, the Educational Services Lead at Seelio, worked with faculty to teach students new ways to stand out to prospective employers. During his visit, Nesbitt spoke with four communication studies cornerstones and capstone classes.

Faculty learned how to incorporate Seelio into the classroom, while students learned how to use the site as an employer portfolio.

Communication Studies students are now required to create their Seelio portfolios in their cornerstones class. Throughout their college career, students are encouraged to add all of their projects to the portfolio.

Bridget Egler, a senior communication studies and marketing major, learned how to make her portfolio “employer ready” in Weber’s capstone course. Students in this course had to complete their Seelio profile and biography, as well as include a professional photo of themselves and examples of at least eight works.

“I think it’s an amazing tool, and I’m glad the communication studies department requires us to utilize it.” Egler said.

Nesbitt said that he shared tips with the students about how they can use Seelio to better prepare for talking with employers at career fairs and job interviews, as well as tailoring a message when communicating with these employers about jobs.

By using Seelio as a portfolio, employers can actually see what students have done and what they are capable of through examples of their work. Having a digital portfolio to share can really help students to stand out in an interview, said Weber.

“People can get a sense of all the things you’re experienced and worked on,” Egler said. “These aren’t just papers, they actually show how hard you’ve worked and what you know.”

Nesbitt said that he and the Seelio team are very excited to continue working with the faculty and students at WVU.

“Students asked excellent questions about how to use Seelio, which made for a very engaging time together,” Nesbitt said. “These students are now ready to use Seelio it its full potential, to document everything they do at WVU and share that compelling story with employers.”

21 Sep

The 5th annual Communication Studies reunion and 4th annual speed networking event will be held the Friday of West Virginia University homecoming weekend, Oct. 9.

Both events will be hosted at Jameson’s Pub and Eatery on High Street, and are open to all Communication Studies students, faculty and alumni.

After brief introductions, the speed networking event will kick off at 3 p.m. Current students will meet with alumni to talk about the various career paths available to communication studies majors.

Sessions will last 5-10 minutes, and students are paired with alumni working in fields that the students are interested in pursuing.

“This is my favorite event of the year,” said Brittany Swope, assistant director of development in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and alumni mentor. “As a student, it can be difficult to figure out how to make professional connections. This is a cool opportunity for alumni to be engaged with our current students to get that exposure, and to stay connected with our department even after we’ve moved into the next phases of our lives.”

Gabe Greco, a senior Communication Studies major, said that she also looks forward to the event every year.

“The speed networking event gives students an opportunity to get to know our wonderful faculty on a different level and get involved with the department outside of the classroom,” Greco, president of Lambda Pi Eta, the communication studies honor society, said.

“Learning about networking and forming meaningful relationships can be very beneficial for the future.”

After the speed networking event, all alumni and faculty are invited to the Communication Studies Reunion to visit and enjoy the Homecoming Parade on High Street at 6:30 p.m.

To RSVP for the reunion please visit:

For more information, contact Andrea Weber at 304-293-3905 or

15 Sep
NickJaime Nick Bowman and Jaime Banks, professors of Communication Studies at West Virginia University, recently traveled to Michigan State University to showcase research on how gamers interact with their digital counterparts.

Bowman and Banks presented their combined research on player-avatar relations at the Michigan State University College of Communication Arts & Sciences. Avatars are graphic representations of users in the digital world, mainly video games.

“Game avatars are remarkably important phenomena in gaming – in most games, everything you do is channeled through that avatar. Because it acts as a mediator, it can influence many different dimensions of gameplay, from how you think about violent content to how you interact with other people playing the game,” Bowman said.

To understand that relationship, the two developed the Player-Avatar Interaction (PAX) Scale to understand the diverse connections that exist between the gamer and their avatar.

Bowman and Banks have each been studying the relationship between the player and the avatar for years, but through different research methods. Bowman is an experimental researcher, while Banks is a qualitative, interpretive researcher. The lecture will present their research program as a case study on how researchers can combine methodologies.

“Through a series of studies, we have developed a pretty strong model for variations in how people connect with their avatars, and we’ll present that scale in conjunction with a talk about how grad students and researchers in general should mix methodologies to advance complex research questions.”

The scale characterizes player avatar interaction according to four features: 1) The degree of emotional investment and appreciation, 2) The degree to which the avatar is perceived as existing on its own like another human, 3) Seeing the avatar and its world is real, and 4) Feeling a sense of ownership and control over the character.

“As we move forward with artificial intelligence and other social technologies, we have to ask: How do these characters take on lives of their own, and how willing are we to accept that autonomy?” Banks said.

The scale is published in an article titled “Emotion, anthropomorphism, realism, control: Validation of a merged metric for player-avatar interaction (PAX)” in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Banks currently serves as chair of the National Communication Association’s Game Studies Division, while Bowman serves as chair of the International Communication Association’s Game Studies Division.

Bowman and Banks currently conduct research on human interaction with technology at the Interaction Lab in the Department of Communication Studies. The lab features an observation room and data collection chamber that provide the faculty and graduate students a secure and robust environment to collect data for their research.

28 Jul

A West Virginia University graduate student is handing off wisdom to motivated student athletes at one of the largest football development camps in the country.


Shaun M. Anderson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Studies served as a keynote speaker in the Life Skills & Leadership Seminar at the Football University training camp in Dublin, Ohio from July 20-22.

“Sports are near and dear to me, so whatever I can share along to upcoming athletes, I would like to do,” Anderson said.

Anderson talked about the challenges many of the athletes will face in “Discovering Who You Are Through Adversity.” He explains how they can overcome them and learn about themselves in the process.

“All of them are striving to go professional, but of course, some of them will not,” he said. “I want to share with them some of the pitfalls they will possibly see in life and how they can overcome them and become successful.”

Anderson’s life has not been without struggle. He has been made homeless numerous times during his childhood and adult life. In order to pay for school, he even worked as a janitor.

“All of those [situations], whether they were adversity or opportunity, led me to this point of being able to share my story, conduct my research, and climb the ladder of success,” Anderson said.

Football University Inc. is a premier football training camp for student athletes in middle and high school across the United States. More than 125 current and former NFL players and coaches provide critical guidance in order to develop young players into better people on and off the field. Various NFL players including Andrew Luck, Ndamukong Suh, and even former Mountaineer great Stedman Bailey are alumni of this prestigious camp.

After the camp finished, Anderson was invited to speak again at the camp next year. He was also approached about conducting research on organizational structure for Football University.

Anderson will now turn his attention to working on receiving his doctorate. The third year doctoral candidate’s dissertation will involve working with major league baseball teams in order to develop a sport development outreach model for teams to be able to increase their fan development among diverse audiences.

22 Jun

Scott Myers, professor of communication studies at West Virginia University, has been named the Peggy Rardin McConnell Chair in the Department of Communication Studies.

Myers came to WVU in 2001 from Creighton University. He is currently the program coordinator for the Ph.D. program and teaches a variety of courses at the graduate level.

His appointment will begin on August 16.

“We are excited about Dr. Myers’ proposal for the McConnell Chair in speech communication and speech performance,” said Rudolph Almasy, interim dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “He has wonderful ideas on how students will benefit from his projects, and he will be a great representative of the McConnell Chair appointment and of the Eberly College.”

Myers plans to use the chair to conduct further research and promote positive family communication.

“We want to explore how West Virginians engage in positive family communication and ways in which we can encourage West Virginians to engage in positive family communication,” Myers said.

In addition to his research, he also plans to hold several outreach programs including workshops and public speaking opportunities for people throughout the state.

This spring, Myers hopes to hold a positive family communication week in Morgantown to promote this type of communication.

Professor Melanie Booth-Butterfield was the first appointed to the Chair and has held it since the Chair’s inception in 2003. Her focus on outreach inspired Myers.

“She was a great role model to follow in terms of what I should do,” Myers said.

The Chair was created by native West Virginian John McConnell in honor of his wife Peggy, who graduated in 1946 with a degree in speech. Peggy and John were natives of Hancock County and lived in Ohio until their deaths, in 2005 and 2008 respectively. The McConnell Chair comes with financial support in order for the chair to complete activities dealing with the improvement of speech communication.

18 Jun

Vicki Sealey has been named the Russell and Ruth Bolton Eberly College Professor for her innovative linking of communications and active learning environments in the Department of Mathematics at West Virginia University.

The professorship provides resources for a faculty member who mentors students in communications skills, regardless of academic discipline.

Most people, Sealey said, don’t usually connect math and communications, but communicating properly is extremely important in mathematics. Unlike classes where you can debate an answer, math is always a matter of right or wrong and it’s important for students to learn how to effectively communicate their solutions to their peers, to teachers and to future employers and colleagues.

“If I can’t appropriately communicate to you the significance of the math, the accuracy of the math, then I’m really missing the mark on what’s important,” Sealey said. “I want not just the instructors to be able to communicate, but I want the students to gain that power as well.”

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences administrators were impressed by Sealey’s proposal to enhance communication skills in mathematics instruction. The college’s interim dean, Rudolph P. Almasy, worked with the Boltons to establish the award. He said he believes Sealey can make a difference and provide a model for others in the sciences that improves students’ speaking and writing skills.

Studies show that students retain more information and enjoy their classes more when they learn in an environment that incorporates active learning-teaching methods.

“A lot of the teaching that we see in math classes is primarily lecture,” Sealey said. “For this project, I’ll be working with a few graduate teaching assistants who are interested in learning more about teaching methods that are not just lecture-based, specifically ones where students will be actively communicating their ideas and explaining their work.

“That’s hard to do,” Sealey said. “I want to work with these graduate students so that they are equipped and prepared to be able to use these strategies in their classroom.”

Sealey will be selecting four graduate students to create a Professional Learning Community.

The graduate students will be teaching sections of a 100-level math class, where they will incorporate the PACT framework from the Eberly College’s SpeakWrite Initiative to help undergraduate students learn to communicate better in the classroom.

The PACT framework consists of four key components – purpose, audience, conventions and trouble.

Sealey said that students often think that finding the answer is the ultimate goal, or “purpose,” in a math class, but it’s just as important for them to be able to justify their answer to a given “audience.” Sealey especially wants undergraduate students to focus on the “conventions” of math, since mathematics as a discipline has very precise notation and language that needs to be used in certain ways.

The project will have three phases:

The first phase will focus on learning the basics of classroom discourse and active learning. Graduate students will meet with Sealey weekly to learn about the PACT framework and ways to encourage class participation. They will also receive research literature and watch videos of Sealey’s classes to discuss ways to increase the students’ engagement in a classroom.

A portion of their meetings will focus on lesson planning, where the graduate students will look for ways to implement these teaching methods into their own classes.

During phase two students will continue to meet weekly, but will only meet with Sealey twice a month, allowing them to be in charge of the learning community.

“I want them to be able to make it their own,” Sealey said. “So, still having me accessible as needed, but really taking it on as their own and them leading it and them being in charge of developing their own lesson plans and activities that encourage active learning and communication.”

In this phase students will learn to mentor each other. Students will videotape their classes and share the videos with the rest of the learning community, where they will discuss the ways that the instructor used active learning and communication, and identify where participation could have been increased.

Phase three will take place during the spring semester. During this phase students will reflect on their teachings from the previous semester and continue to find ways to incorporate active learning and student communication into their classrooms on a regular basis.

This phase is not yet fully developed, as Sealey plans to tailor the program to the needs of the students.

Funding for the project will be used to give stipends to the participating graduate students as an incentive for the extra work that they will have to do.

The project is guaranteed to last for one year, but can last up to three years if funding continues. Sealey said she hopes to continue the project again next year with new students.

“A lot of this project is really my passion to take these research ideas that we know to be effective and help teachers, specifically graduate students, to be able to implement these research-based practices,” Sealey said.

The Russell and Ruth Bolton Eberly Professorship was established in 2007 by alumni Russell and Ruth Bolton to provide resources for outstanding teaching. Russell Bolton was a 1949 graduate of the WVU College of Law. Ruth Bolton is a 1943 graduate of WVU with a degree in communication studies. She is a resident of Palm Desert, Calif. Over the years, they have made numerous contributions to the University in support of academics, athletics and special projects.

27 Apr
moises Every so often, we like to spotlight Eberly College students who are doing great things while enrolled at West Virginia University. This time, we present to you Moises Cardenas, communications studies major. He’s currently interning at WVNet, a company providing internet and communications access across the state. We caught up with him recently for this Q&A.

What’s one skill or concept from one of you classes that you found yourself using in your internship?

I would say strategic social media stuff because you have to come up with strategies on how to really engage your followers and audience and how to build a network up of strong and weak ties that I learned in many of my communication studies classes.

Walk us through a typical day at your internship.

I actually share an office with our data management center manager and he runs everything within WVNet. Ill just go and have my own computer and desk space, go through and bring up all my social media feeds and first thing I like to do is see if anybody has followed me, or mentioned me or how I plan on engaging people that certain day. And you know every day really varies because it’s just starting to take off the ground now. So I have a whole media team, I have a graphics designer and video editors and web designers so I tell them what I need for that day, if I need a new logo, or need something new, a new photo I can go to them and ask them what I need. And I really like to specify my content towards if there is an event going on or anything like that and it just changes day to day on how I feel and what creativity comes to me that day.

How do you connect people in these rural communities with Internet?

What URcast and WVNet does really is provide caching services which is, if these places have low broadband or internet connections, if 5 students get on they’re not going to be able to get on it will be way too slow so what this allows is for them to all get on at the same time.

With more and more commerce taking place online, access to broadband can level the playing field between rural and urban communities. What drew you to an internship at WVNet?

I was really looking for something within the field of Social Media and the fact that it’s not only you know that this is a good internship and I’m getting great experience, but I am also really making a change in the state that I really love and going to WVU you feel even more of a sense of pride for West Virginia. You’re making a change and it’s kind of a sense of fulfillment to see how happy they are just to be able to be doing something new and something different. And you can see how much they improve within the classroom.

What has been your favorite moment so far in the internship?

On March 13 there was a nationwide initiative called Digital Learning Day. I actually organized an entire event which was a DLD carnival. So this is at an elementary school and we had different types of games that related to technology. We had them create a digital superhero online and it was like the Marvel website. They created a superhero and wrote a paragraph about how you could be saved using something online or learn something digitally. We had different prizes, we had games for them.

Fill in the blank: Majoring in Communication Studies has …

Really just helped me to be able to do what I want to do because it is such a broad field. I can go on to do some marketing, I can do web design, I can go and do a little bit of social media.

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve had while interning with WVNet?

Being comfortable and being confident about what I know because you’re on the phone with people who have years of experience they’re all older than you, they’re all established financially within their job you know and you feel as though you’re learning so much from them. It’s kind of nerve racking when they come to you what do you think we need to do, what do we need to do (with marketing) and being confident in your ability to say “this is what we need to do!” and really being able to utilize it and go through with it and see the results. It’s nerve racking, but when you see the results you see that you are confident about what you are doing.

3 Mar

Elizabeth Cohen of the Department of Communication at West Virginia University told WDTV Monday that a study saying Facebook causes depression may be flawed.

“The problem is that correlation doesn’t always equal causation,” she said.

Watch the full segment below.

12 Feb

Elizabeth Cohen, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies, was recently featured during a panel discussion on Bloomburg Radio about the announcement Jon Stewart was leaving “The Daily Show.”

Click the video below to listen to the interview.

9 Dec

West Virginia has the highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 35.1 percent —nearly triple that of the state’s rate 20 years ago. And while increases in childhood obesity rates in the Mountain State have begun to slow, medical professionals are warning that disparities persist and severe obesity may be on the rise.

Experts in health campaigns and communications at West Virginia University said to reverse the negative health trends across the country, the conversation is going to have to tap into people’s desire to know “what’s in it for me?”

“There’s only so many times you can say to people ‘there’s a big obesity and diabetes problem in this country. People know,” said Keith Weber, professor of communication studies and coordinator for the master’s in theory and research program.

“We can’t just ask people to make decisions because it’s good for them. Advertisers have figured that out a long time ago. Look at the way we sell LED light bulbs. We don’t sell them on ‘It’s good for the environment.’ We sell them on ‘they’ll last longer,’ ‘they’ll save you money,’ ‘they won’t use as much energy.’ ‘Do it because you’ll get something out of it’ is what I think motivates people.”

Second-year doctoral student Hannah Ball alongside Weber to research evidence-based social influence messages that promote prosocial health behaviors.

She has worked on projects related to organ donor consent, testicular cancer awareness, and obesity/diabetes prevention and management.

The public’s awareness of West Virginia’s obesity statistics and efforts to combat the disease still hinges on some of the most at-risk populations being able to access the information.

“The people with access to (the) information and resources are the people who are more likely to know about it and seek more information,” Ball said.

“How do we reach those people affected by the huge gap in knowledge and resources? Usually those are the people who need the most help.”

According to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, a report released last month by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Foundation:

• Obesity rates remain higher among Black and Latino communities than among Whites
• Adult obesity rates for Blacks in West Virginia were 36.5 percent
• Rates of adult obesity among Latinos in West Virginia were 32.1 percent
• Among Whotes, adult obesity rates were 33.8 percent in West Virginia
• Baby Boomers (45-to 64-year-olds)* have the highest obesity rates of any age group – and 38.7 percent of Baby Boomers in West Virginia are obese.

Some strong resources, Weber said, are already in place. For instance, Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, houses the WVU Hospitals’ Diabetes Education Center, which provides programs in
diabetes self-management, utilizing dietary counseling, exercise
protocols, and other state-of-the-art techniques.

“It’s not ‘if you build it they will come,’” Weber said. “You’ve got to get (people) there.”

For more information contact Keith Weber at (304) 293-3905 or

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