University Honors TISM Faculty LaRose and Peng

Posted on: February 11, 2014

tism-faculty-awardTwo Media and Informationfaculty members were awarded two of the most prestigious faculty honors presented by Michigan State University.

Our congratulations go out to Professor Robert LaRose, who won the W. J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award, and Associate Professor Wei Peng, recipient of the Teacher-Scholar Award. LaRose and Peng received their awards today at the All-University Awards Convocation at the Wharton Center.

Robert LaRose

An accomplished researcher and painter, LaRose has contributed extensively to research, teaching, outreach and administration during his 26 years at MSU.

"Professor LaRose is a prolific scholar whose work has had a profound impact on the discipline," Johannes Bauer, Chair of the Media and Informationdepartment, said in his nomination letter.

From his early studies of the social effects of telephonic communications to his more recent work examining the social and psychological impacts of new media, mobile communication, the Internet and broadband connectivity, LaRose has made major contributions that have led to new paths of inquiry.

Bob LaRoseHis most visible and impactful contribution is his development of a novel theory of media habits, published in Communications Theory in 2010. This research was honored with several prestigious prizes and has led to numerous national and international speaking invitations. It also was recognized by the leading international professional association, the International Communications Association (ICA), as the best journal article in the field in 2010.

According to data from Google Scholar, LaRose's research has been cited more than 4,200 times.

He also has made many contributions to graduate and undergraduate education as well, including pioneering efforts in online teaching.

"Professor LaRose is known as a challenging yet dedicated and caring teacher. He has played a core role in teaching social scientific methods to many cohorts of graduate students," Bauer stated in his nomination. "As a tireless mentor of doctoral students, he has helped lay the foundations of many successful academic careers. This is evidenced by numerous co-authored articles and book chapters but also the informal networks of individuals who were touched by his passion for pushing the edges of knowledge and seeking a deeper understanding of communications technologies and their social impacts."

As for his contributions to undergraduate education, LaRose re-conceptualized the approach made to teaching introductory courses and was one of the promoters of a fundamental revision of the 100-level service courses on the information society. As part of this project, he co-authored the introductory textbook "Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture and Technology," which is used across the nation to introduce students to media and information technologies and their effects.

The William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards (formerly the Distinguished Faculty Awards) are made each year to faculty members for outstanding service to the university. Nominations are based on teaching; advising; research; publications; art exhibitions; concert performances; committee work; public service including extension, continuing education and work with government agencies; or a combination of these activities.

Wei Peng

Peng is a star in her field who integrates teaching and research in exemplary ways. She employs technological tools to enable engaged and active learning. Her research on game-like approaches to increase engagement and motivation directly informs her teaching.

In her classes, she seeks to actively engage students, providing them with collaborative learning opportunities that require critical thinking, problem solving, team work, and application of theory. In her mentoring of graduate students, her firm yet open-minded research guidance has benefited 27 doctoral and 16 master's-level students.

Wei PengPeng has maintained an active research agenda that has generated numerous publications, many of which have appeared in the leading journals of her field. Her innovative research, often integrating game design and experiments, has won national awards and is frequently cited by her peers.

She is the principal investigator of a nationally funded grant that studies the efficacy of active video games for physical activity promotion. As an expert in the areas of video game effects and games for health, her advice is frequently sought by journal editors and federal funding agencies.

"The intelligence, talent and commitment to hard work that are the foundations for her rise within her field have similarly been deployed to great effect in the classroom and in her contributions to department and university governance, as well as in service to her profession and the larger community," Bauer said in his nomination letter.

Peng, in her own words, is "an advocate of student-centered active learning and team-based collaborative learning inside and outside the classroom." She employs technological tools to enable such learning.

Since joining the Media and Informationdepartment in 2006, Peng has always been among the first faculty to adopt, seek training, and experiment with new instructional technologies.

Recognizing the best teachers who have served at MSU for seven years or less, Teacher-Scholar Awards are presented each year to six tenure system faculty members from the ranks of assistant professor and associate professor who early in their careers have earned the respect of students and colleagues for their devotion to and skill in teaching.

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