Dissertation Announcement: How Students Communicate With Faculty Outside of Class

The day I’ve been looking forward to for over five years is almost here! On Wednesday, September 9, I’ll defend my dissertation. The long, academic title written for databases and nerds is:

An Examination of the Relationship Between the Communication Methods Used in Out-of-Class Student-Faculty Interactions and the Content and Frequency of Those Interactions

For those of you that aren’t impressed with big words, basically I asked college students how they communicate with faculty outside of class (including face to face, email, social media, texting, and other methods), how often they interacted with them, and what topics they discussed. I asked these specific things because research shows that the content and frequency of student-faculty interactions is a strong component of student engagement. And student engagement is a predictor of positive college outcomes like retention, GPA, and graduation. The research in this area was conducted mainly from the 1970’s – early 2000’s—well before students were texting, Facebooking, or tweeting—when most student-faculty interactions outside of class happened during office hours. Now, students have multiple ways to connect with faculty (I asked about 11 of them), and we don’t know how that impacts those interactions. For my dissertation, I sought to study just a little bit about this, and hopefully future research can expand on it.

Following in the footsteps of Dr. Josie Ahlquist, I will be live-streaming my defense! Tune in on YouTube at 10:00 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, September 9. My defense will be 30 minutes or less, followed by questions from my committee and potentially the in-person audience (sorry, no questions from the online audience).

Special thanks to my dissertation committee for allowing me to do this … and my husband for providing the live tech support.

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