Tag Archives: research

Scholarly Analysis Among Top Papers at International Conference

Posted on: April 1, 2016

Amanda_HolmstromA paper based on interdisciplinary research and written by an MSU associate professor of communication will be among the most highly ranked presentations at the 2016 annual conference of the International Communication Association.

Mandy Holmstrom's scholarly analysis will be showcased as one of four top papers in interpersonal communication at the June 9-13 ICA conference in Fukuoka, Japan. The paper "'So that's how she do': Supportive messages female offenders receive from parole officers" is part of a larger interdisciplinary research program focused on improving supervision for women on probation and parole. The program involves MSU investigators from the departments of communication, criminal justice and psychology and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

"We were all surprised and excited to be selected," says Holmstrom. "We were picked from a large field of submissions, and it's a great opportunity to get the word out about MSU's research and programs to an international audience."

The International Communication Association (ICA) is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication. The 50-year-old organization started as a small association of U.S. researchers and has become international in scope with more than 4,500 members in 80 countries.

Holmstrom's paper presented findings of a recent study that examined the content and effects of supportive messages that women on parole or probation receive from their probation and parole officers. The study is among the first of its type to specifically examine supportive messages from parole and probation officers related to the use of drugs, alcohol and substance abuse among female offenders.

"The study found that women are receiving quite a lot of supportive messages from their parole and probation officers, and that they see it as being helpful," Holmstrom said. "But the study also showed there are still a number of gaps in their social support network that could be filled."

Communication Professor Sandi Smith, also director of the MSU Health and Risk Communication Center, is among the study's four investigators and will be traveling to Japan to present the paper. She mentioned that the preliminary findings outlined in the paper might lead to subsequent research focused on the effect of social support messages between probation and parole officers and female offenders.

In addition to Smith, other investigators on the Improving Supervision for Women Offenders project include Merry Morash, professor of criminal justice, Jennifer Cobbina, associate professor of criminal justice, and Deborah Kashy, professor of psychology. Beth Adams, doctoral student in the department of criminal justice, is also a coauthor on the paper and will travel to Japan with Dr. Smith.

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MSU Hosts Organizational Communication Mini-Conference

Posted on: October 16, 2015

organizational communication mini conference logoThe 2015 Organizational Communication Mini-Conference (OCMC), which showcases and supports the talents of graduate students pursuing research about organizational communication, is being hosted by MSU’s Department of Communication Oct. 16-18 at Brody Hall on MSU’s campus.

The event gives scholars the opportunity to present their dissertations or other projects and to receive feedback. Students also can network with peers and faculty.

“On one hand, presenting at the conference helps students improve as scholars and exposes them to new perspectives. On the other hand, the conference also has a social function,” said Shannon Cruz, an MSU graduate student in Communication who is the graduate student coordinator for the OCMC.

Abby Rainer, a first-year doctoral student in Communication, is the only Michigan State University student presenting at this year's mini-conference. She will be presenting her thesis project during the poster session, scheduled for 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, in Room 134 of Brody Hall.

Rainer’s research explores the nature and outcomes of professional advice and support, especially that which aids the development of leaders and organizations, the navigation of workplace relationships, and the handling of workplace adversities. Her recent projects have explored professional advice and support given to employees facing retirement, job performance failures, and family planning-related stress.

"The OCMC is beneficial in so many ways," Rainer said. "Students get the chance to exchange research-related ideas, form and maintain important professional relationships, learn how to network in a professional but collegial setting, and be directly involved with where the field is going.

"Also, it allows faculty and students from schools around the country as well as different methodological backgrounds (e.g., quantitative and rhetorical) to meet and discuss present research, career opportunities, and future organizational communication research."

The OCMC first began in 1988, making this year’s conference the 28th annual. This will be the fifth time the event will be held on Michigan State’s campus.

Michigan State welcomes participants of the OCMC and encourages graduate students studying communication to take part in the mini-conference in the years to come.

Information on parking, lodging and food for conference participants can be found on the 2015 Organizational Communication Mini-Conference web page.

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Faculty Members Named Sustainability Fellows

Posted on: August 3, 2015

Sustainability banner

Two College of Communication Arts and Sciences faculty members have been named 2015 MSU Sustainability Fellows for their environmental sustainability-themed online survey of MSU undergraduate students.

John Besley, Associate Professor and Ellis N. Brandt Chair in Public Relations in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations, and Bruno Takahashi, Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Journalism and Department of Communication and Research Director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, worked on the initial sustainability survey along with Adam Zwickle, Assistant Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Program and the School of Criminal Justice in the College of Social Science.

The survey includes questions gauging environmental sustainability and scientific knowledge, norms and practices surrounding sustainability related behaviors, and attitudes toward environmental responsibility. The plan is to make the survey an annual project.

bruno-takahashi feature

Bruno Takahashi

“The Sustainability Office, specially Ann Erhardt (Director of MSU Sustainability), has recognized the importance of evidence-based communication. In that sense, we are hoping the results of the survey will help inform the communication initiatives at MSU,” Takahashi said. “From a research perspective, there are very few empirical studies examining educational settings that attempt to understand the factors that explain the engagement in sustainability behaviors by students. We are trying to push the envelope in the study of environmentalism, behaviors, and well being among students.”

Data from the initial survey was collected at the end of the spring 2015 semester. Students were randomly selected to participate with more than 2,800 completed surveys received.

The research team plans to produce a report for the Sustainability Office with some recommendations and are working on two academic studies, one on the relationship between values and environmental behaviors, and another one examining differences in environmental behaviors based on cohorts (freshman, sophomore, etc.).

“The assumption for the second one is that students' attitudes, knowledge about science and the environment, perception of social norms, among other factors change as they move forward with their degrees, and that this affects behaviors,” Takahashi said.

Plans are already underway for a 2016 survey as well as identifying areas for targeted campaigns.


John Besley

“We want to make the survey an annual thing so that we can use it to track the impact of the college experience on students’ views and behavior,” Besley said.

MSU Sustainability’s fellowship program uses the MSU campus as a laboratory to address issues related to greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, waste reduction, water conservation, sustainable transportation, education, engagement, social responsibility and more.

The program funds research projects that focus on aspects of environmental responsibility and sustainability specific to MSU.

"The work is driven by real challenges faced by the university," Erhardt said. “The fellowship program connects researchers with campus decision-makers in order to effectively plan for the future sustainability of MSU's campus."

For more information on these and other sustainability efforts, see the MSU Sustainability website.

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Wyche to Explore Technology Use and Innovation in Kenya

Posted on: April 1, 2015

Entering Kenya

Department of Media and Information Assistant Professor Susan Wyche's research is being supported by one of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development awards, the foundation's most prestigious award for junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar. Wyche will use the five-year, $582,613 grant to study technological innovation at sites in rural and urban Kenya.

"Technological advances in computing are traditionally understood as coming from industrialized nations, or those that invest heavily in technology research and development," Wyche said. "However, centers of information and communication technology innovation are shifting in the world. Emerging economies, such as Kenya, are no longer simply the recipients of innovative design from industrialized nations – the things we're developing. They're actually developing innovative technologies that are being adopted by the rest of the world.

M-Pesa"In the face of limited technical infrastructures and meager incomes, 'bottom of the pyramid' communities – or the 2.5 billion emerging economy residents who live on less than $2.50 per day – develop ingenious strategies to navigate these constraints when using technology. These workarounds are less obvious to people living in technology-rich environments, such as the U.S., and they have motivated innovative computing applications that are now used worldwide.

An example of this phenomenon is Kenya's revolutionary mobile banking system, M-Pesa (the "M" stands for mobile and "Pesa" is Swahili for money). For nearly a decade, Kenya has been leading the way with this innovative mobile phone technology, which allows you to send money using your mobile phone.

"When you are working in environments where access to electricity isn't everywhere, where people live on much less money than we do here, it spurs creative ideas," Wyche said. "This project is about understanding those creative ideas and how they can motivate solution to globally connected problems in computing."

Susan Wyche main 2Wyche's research will investigate the relationship between the bottom of the pyramid communities' interaction with computing and the discovery of technological solutions to globally connected problems in human-computer interaction (HCI), such as issues of sustainability, managing natural resources, recovering from natural disasters, diversifying online participation and providing employment opportunities.

One goal of this research is to lead to improved models of innovation and to advance our understanding of where and how transformative ideas emerge. It also seeks to fill a gap in knowledge regarding how constraints that exist in the United States, but are more visible in sub-Saharan Africa, can motivate innovations in computing.

"The challenges facing society – from managing natural resources and recovering from natural disasters to diversifying online participation and providing employment for growing populations – are immense, urgent and globally connected. Results from this CAREER research have the potential to substantially increase the number of technological solutions to these problems," Wyche said.

Susan Wyche KenyaWyche chose to do her research in Kenya because it is considered the tech center of East Africa right now and she has been working there since 2007.

As part of the grant, an interdisciplinary design studio course will be established where students will collaboratively design concepts based on Wyche's research. The course will be taught at both MSU and at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is intended to enable faculty early in their career to build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Wyche's CAREER grant will begin in 2016. During the summer of 2016, she and a student will do field work in rural Kenya and the slums of Nairobi where they will interview people and observe how they use technology.

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