• School of Communication Studies
  • Lasher Hall, 43 West Union
  • Athens, Ohio 45701
  • Phone: (740) 593-4828
  • Fax: (740) 593-4810

COMS 101 - Summer information

Greetings,

Please take advantage of the material that has been posted on this website by those who have had the opportunity to be the instructor of record for COMS 101 over the summer. We hope that the materials will help you along your way. Feel free to edit the powerpoints, activities, and tests as you see best so that they fit with your teaching styles.

I have learned a great deal about teaching this class from others that I have taught with and those that have taught before me. Because I might not be there to tell you the most important collective pieces of information that I have learned pertaining to this class in person, I hope that you read this posting to gain an understanding of what you should expect to encounter when teaching COMS 101 over the summer.

This class is extremely unique and should offer you countless opportunities to grow as an instructor if you take advantage of the classroom dynamics. Being an introductory course for the classes offered in COMS, this class is extremely important to providing students with a solid understanding of what our field has to offer. For me, this has been uniquely exciting. I hope that you share this same excitement as you begin your journey teaching this class over the summer.

Before you begin, there are a couple of things you should know about the structure of this class. (For the past three years, the structure has been similar, but it could certainly change.)

1) Your class will consist of 1/2 OU students and 1/2 Japanese students from Chubu University in Japan as part of a learning abroad program. Most of these students speak good English, but may struggle in classroom interactions in that they are used to "playing" the respectful role of a student in Japanese classrooms. For this reason, you may become frustrated with classroom interactions when they do not respond. In knowing this, it is important that you practice extreme patience in classroom instruction, groupwork, and assessments. The Chubu students will answer if you call on them, but may need to be "prodded" go give you an answer.

If you choose to put the Chubu students into groups with OU students (which I think that all instructors would recommend), you need to make it clear to the OU students on the first day of class that they will be expected to interact with the Chubu students to receive a good grade in the class. Make sure that the OU students understand that it is NOT their job to take on the role of the instructor, but may need to take on the role of a "mentor" for their Chubu group members. It is hard to believe, but even though the Chubu students may have been in other OU classes prior to yours, their interactions with OU students is and has been severely limited. Keep in mind that ANY group work that deals with cultural understandings and explorations will be beneficial to both the Chubu students and the OU students.

2) The Chubu students will have a support instructor that attends your class with them. These instructors conduct a separate class for the Chubu students where they will revisit the material from your class. At times, they might ask for the quizzes, exams, etc. so that they can tailor their lectures, activities, etc. for the Chubu students. It is important to maintain open communication with your support instructor so that the Chubu students can focus on the material that you see as being most important from the book.

3) Hands-on activities are great! Drawing illustrations, putting on "plays" or getting the students to talk about their experiences are excellent. Not only does this promote group activity, it "forces" the students to work together and become comfortable presenting the material to the class and communicating across language barriers. They seem to have fun working together and understand the information better as a result. However, you will need to directly ask the Chubu students about their opinions or impressions because they tend to let the OU students talk for them. (Make sure that the OU students know that they should not compensate for the Chubu’s participation.)

4) Don't be afraid to focus on the material YOU THINK is most important. With a classroom that is so diverse with a significant language barrier, it is difficult for the Chubu students to digest a great deal of information. For instance, if there is one overarching concept that encompasses several different sub-components, focus on that overarching concept, but give examples of those sub-components to help form a foundation for the students. As a result, you will only be testing on that overarching concept. This will probably vary from instructor to instructor that vary in techniques to convey that information. However, as mentioned before, hands-on activities for the students are great.

These four items listed above are the most important pieces of information that I would tell anyone teaching this class. Of course, there will be other advice that you may give new instructors. If so, I encourage you to catalog those impressions to share with others over the years.

Overall, it is extremely important that you practice patience as an instructor, simplify the information, and find innovative ways to present the material and put it into practice. I wish you the best of luck and success as you begin your COMS 101 OU-Chubu teaching journey.

- Kenny

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