COMM notes

Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication

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Drury students travel to Ecuador to begin work on non-profit

April 16, 2016 began as a normal day for the residents of the northeastern coast of Ecuador, but at around 7 pm, tragedy struck the country as a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rattled the Earth beneath them, leaving over 670 dead and 16,600 injured.

In response to the disaster that took from the already-poor country, two Drury alumns, Jorge Nadal Volckaert and Juan Fernando Calderon, and one current student, Masha Podokshik, felt compelled to help the people affected.

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Student news: Desirae Fowler and Chloe Foster put web design skills to work

Web Communication: Two success stories from the Fall 2014 semester

Web Communication (COMM 386) is one part web design, one part writing, and a whole lot of creative problem solving. Each semester, students work with Dr. Jonathan Groves, associate professor of communication, to create or redesign a website. It’s a challenging course, but students Desirae Fowler and Chloe Foster prove the outcomes are worth the effort.

desRedesigning for the greater good.

Desirae Fowler, a senior marketing and management major, accepted the challenge of redesigning a website for Stand Against Trafficking, a local coalition established in Springfield, Missouri, that strives to raise awareness of human trafficking in the U.S. Since the group had a working website, Desirae had to make sure it remained usable while updating its design and content.

An additional challenge was finding the best way to present the topic and relevant content without exploiting the issue.

” I am not an expert on human trafficking, so it was difficult to decide what content should be on the website and how it should be displayed due to sensitive nature of the issue. You want to pull the audience in with emotional appeals, but you don’t with to exploit anyone or the issue. It was hard finding the perfect balance.”

Desirae is proud of the site she created. The homepage features statistics that make readers think and she developed a variety of pages — “Get educated” “Take a stand” and “Make a difference” — that allow visitors to access the information they need in just a few clicks.

“My hard work paid off and I’m pleased with my website, though there is always room for improvements. It’s gratifying helping others and I’m happy I could help the Stand Against Trafficking coalition redesign its website.”

Now that she has completed Web Communication, Desirae is certain her experience in this area will be useful in her professional career.  

“Not only have I experimented with programs that many businesses utilize, but I worked closely with a client and built a website around their mission and needs. Being able to maintain professionalism is important in my job.”

C_FosterBuilding one for the team  

Student-athlete Chloe Foster, an advertising and public relations major who plays on Drury’s volleyball team, came up with the idea for the Drury Volleyball “Go Behind the Scenes” website after a conversation with her coach.

“My coaches mentioned that they wanted a way for recruits to get to know the team when we aren’t available to meet with them. I wanted to create a site that recruits could visit to learn what it is like to be a college athlete, and where they could get to know the players on more personal level.”

Chloe’s website features profiles of  team members, a Q/A page where recruits can learn more about Drury volleyball, and a behind the scenes look at the team. She’s pleased that the website can be an important asset to the team during the recruitment process.

In addition to helping the team, she also gained a personal benefit.

“I can take the skills I learned in class and use them in a future job. Knowing how to build a website and create a web presence is important because the internet is how people get their information now, and many businesses need people that can help  them do this.”

Download an informative handout on the Web Communication and Design minor.



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Interpersonal Communication students conduct research that matters

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat communication processes do women experience when deciding to reveal or conceal a miscarriage? What communication strategies do elderly couples, firefighters, and overseas missionaries use to maintain relationships when separated by distance? Earlier this year, students in Dr. Cristina Gilstrap’s Interpersonal Communication Theory course conducted research to examine these relational and societal issues.

In small teams, students conducted interviews, analyzed data, and presented their findings to community members. Students hope to revise their final papers for submission to the Central States Communication Association Undergraduate Honors Conference and publication in the Qualitative Research Reports in Communication journal.

The studies included:

Sharing with a Purpose: An Examination of the Communication Rules-Based Process of Revealing/Concealing a Miscarriage

Erin Crunkilton, Mykesha Jackson, & Liz Parsons

Not Always ‘Til Death Do Us Part: Examining Romantic Partners’ Communication Rituals When Separated By a Nursing Home

Hadeil Abdelraouf, Jacy Shaw, Kate Elam, & Taylor Curtis

Burning Love: An Examination of Relational Maintenance Behaviors Utilized in the Firefighter-Spouse Relationship

Caitlin Lauer, Ghada ElHaffar, Megan Goosey, & Emily Titus

International Intentionality: Relationship Maintenance of Christian Missionaries and Overseas Converts

Laney Gipson, Brennan Weekley, & Hannah Heinzler

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Organizational Communication students provide consulting services to Mercy

In the fall 2013 semester, Dr. Cristina Gilstrap’s Organizational Communication class gained valuable consulting experience when they partnered with Mercy in  Springfield, Mo.

The class broke into two research teams to work with the ICU unit nurses and the Mercy Leadership Team. Both groups conducted one-on-one interviews to examine organizational culture, workplace stress, and work/life balance issues associated with working in a hospital.  Each team analyzed its data and produced a consulting report featuring recommendations for Mercy leaders.  The experience culminated in formal presentations to the Mercy Leadership Team in December.

This is just another great example of hands-on learning and student involvement in the Springfield community.


All smiles after presenting their findings to the Mercy Leadership Team!