Ethnography in Praxis in the College Literature Classroom

In this article, I suggest that an applied communication approach using Dell Hymes framework of ethnography of communication could serve as an intervention strategy in order to promote a greater sense of shared community by increasing member-shared knowledge based on speech codes, speech acts, and speech events within the college literature curriculum. I explore this framework with consideration on how this communication approach could be used as a way to help students identify with stories that contain culture-specific language in the form of speech codes, and how this assumed shared knowledge is necessary for member identification. This article is exploratory; it offers researchers interested in the intersection between applied communication research and ethnography the opportunity to study the ways mediated communication can create cultural sensitivity through an insiders or emic view of the heritage, the language differences, as well as the patterns of speech often found in ethnically diverse literature.


ethnography of communication, applied communication, pedagogy

A Critical Review of Black’s “Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method”

Edwin Black wrote his treatise, “Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method” (1965) while working on his Ph.D. at Cornell University. Black’s suggestion that Neo-Aristotelian practices based upon the assumptions and principles of theory limited the critic’s ability to understand the historical, social, political, and ideological context of texts provoked controversy among rhetorical critics of the day (p. ix). His method book, while, not welcomed by all scholars, opened the doors to new avenues of public discourse, and unchained subsequent generations of students and scholars to envision new ways to think, to explore, and to conceptualize the rhetorical process. The study method, published originally in 1965, was reintroduced to students in 1978 and has continued to be considered one of the most influential books in the field (Black, 1978).

Invitational Rhetoric

Recently, I was introduced to Foss and Griffin’s 1995 Theory of Invitational Rhetoric. I had never heard of this theory before, but learned about it while conducting research for my Advanced Theory of Communication course at Regent University (Spring 2015). I read two journal articles (currently being reviewed for my Applied Research Methods course) that suggest the “possibility” of designing English and Communication courses using this theory as a base model. The articles were suggestive of applicability, but not thoroughly tested in a classroom setting. I am intrigued by this possibility, and I am thinking of using this theory to create a multi-modal writing course for first year Freshman Composition. I need to flesh out the idea more, and of course, conduct some research (of which there is scant in literature at this time). My hope is that I might be able to produce some scholarly work, perhaps a conference paper, on this topic. It seems to be gaining some traction in higher education, specifically in Writing and Rhetoric departments and groups.

A Visual Analysis of “Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience” at the Heard Museum

I wrote a critical paper entitled, A Visual Analysis of “Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience” at the Heard Museum, for a course in Historical/Critical Research methods at Regent University in Fall 2014.


As museum visitors, more times than not, the design and functionality of a display is lost in the “moment of time” – the moment – when we step into an exhibition experience. Our senses are engaged immediately as we contemplate the visual representation or the “big picture” of the design. Rarely do we stop to think of how the exhibit was created or consider the reasons why certain objects and artworks were chosen. We accept the designer’s and curator’s reasons for their construction and inclusion without much thought simply preferring instead to enjoy the “moment.” We accept our role as a passive observer. We are there to observe and not to engage with the exhibit – or so we think.

Although we might believe that our role as audience is passive, visual scholars (those who study visual rhetoric, visual anthropology, and museology) say otherwise. They see the role of audience as a critical component when it comes to understanding how museum exhibitions function as a whole, and they consider how the design elements, the artifacts, and the audience share in a symbiotic-like relationship whereby meaning, value, and worth are established[1]. These scholars are interested in understanding the relationship between audience and exhibit, and they consider it significant and vital to constructing meaning. As such, they study audience involvement, affectation, and experience to learn how values and identities are formed[2].

Furthermore, visual scholars, specifically those that critically analyze the way exhibits are designed, seek to comprehend the relationship between audience and exhibit terming it “shared connection.” These scholars believe that this relationship fosters a type of “community” when audience participation integrates with the visuality and the textuality of museum exhibitions.[3] Historically, researchers have explored this “shared connection” between museum exhibit, design, and audience through the framework of time and space[4] or by looking at how exhibits occupy the spatial confines of museum galleries. However, since the 1980s, when museum designers began to enlarge the idea of “experiential space” by using multimodal media  and immersion in exhibitions,[5] research has led scholars to seek to learn how multimodal exhibitions function to create liminal space[6] – space in between – where ‘framed exhibits’ and the ‘audience viewing the frames’ join together to co-create meaning[7]. Therefore, scholars who study visual rhetoric or the way in which visual texts or artifacts are used persuasively to communicate and construct meaning will also seek to understand the role of audience and how audience participation and interaction with a particular text, in this case a museum exhibition[8], can shape audience values and identities[9].

The intended scope of this paper is to analyze how the visual construction of the exhibit, “Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience,” and the use of key design elements such as sound, lighting, photography, and artifacts function to communicate the meaning of the history of the off-reservation Indian Boarding Schools experience. A visual examination of the exhibit, as well as a close reading, will seek to identify how audience perception co-contributes to the overall experience, and how audience values and identities may be shaped through strategic rhetorical design. The “Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience,” was chosen specifically for this assignment because it offers a visually stunning and intensive immersive audience experience that clearly seeks to communicate persuasively the history of Indian education as experienced by Native American Indian school students.

[1] Corrine A. Kratz, “Rhetoric’s of Value: Constituting Worth and Meaning through Cultural Display.” Visual Anthropology Review 27, no. 1 (May 2011): 21-48. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 20, 2014).

[2] Ibid, 22.

[3] Ibid, 22.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Kerstin Smeds, “On the Meaning of Exhibitions – Exhibition Epistèmes in a Historical Perspective,” Designs For Learning 5, no. 1/2 (June 2012): 50-72, Education Source, EBSCOhost (accessed November 20, 2014).

[7] Corrine Kratz.

[8] Kerstin Smeds.

[9] Corrine Kratz, 23.



Member Experience, Perception and Commitment during Organizational Crisis

In June 2014, I conducted an ethnographic research project to study the role of affect on member experience, perception and commitment. I wrote a critical paper entitled, Paradise Church: An Ethnographic Study of the Affects of Organizational Crisis on Member Experience, Perception and Commitment, for a course in Qualitative Research Methods at Regent University in Summer 2014.


Crisis affects all organizations at one time or another. Crisis communication, strategies for crisis response, and crisis management programs form the basis for significant scholarship in the field of organizational communication. Researchers attempting to explore and to understand communication and its role within organizations have focused on crises and how the crisis itself forms the foundation for communication patterns. They seek to know how to interpret warning signs, how to create awareness of potential crisis, and how to effectively managed crisis once it has occurred. However, little research exists to explore how crisis affects members directly, how their experience is shaped, and how crisis leadership communication influences member perception and directly relates to commitment levels. Areas for future research are also addressed.

KEYWORDS Communication, crisis response, intragroup conflict, member experience

Family Communication and Storytelling

I wrote a project proposal entitled, Family Communication and Storytelling, for a Family Communication Seminar at Regent University in Spring 2014.

Proposal Abstract

Storytelling or the act of telling stories is something that is universally appealing to people of all ages and cultures. Story can be used for sharing the Gospel message, to communicate God’s love for his children, and to connect personally with family and friends. Moreover, storytelling is something that anyone can do, and with the variety of digital media and technology tools available for free or at low cost, individuals and families can write their own stories, and share them via the Internet or other technology (DVD, for example).

This proposal, therefore, seeks to encourage the use of story as personal narrative and for understanding and applying biblical truth in a church setting. The focus of this proposal is to demonstrate how storytelling can be used to create connections, personally and corporately, within the local church. This proposal is grounded on several factors: first, current research has shown the positive impact story has on all ages, not only to educate, but to inspire and to connect family and community. Second, storytelling is something all human beings can do – we all can tell stories and we can all listen to stories. Third, the church can use the power of storytelling and stories to help share the message of the Gospel, to minister to those in need, and to build up the Body of Christ. Storytelling is all about making connections, and the church can use storytelling to help connect individuals and families to each other and to their local church community. This proposal includes suggestions for conducting a storytelling workshop series as well as suggestions on how to incorporate personal stories on the church website,

Intergenerational Communication and Digital Media

I wrote a critical paper on The Influence of Popular Culture, Postmodernism and Digital Media On Communicative Practices within the Church for a Family Communication Seminar at Regent University in Spring 2014.


The purpose of this paper is to examine family communication in the church and to focus specifically on the influences of popular culture and postmodernism as they relate to communicative practices. Within this context, themes including digital media use, the role of technology, and their use in the congregation will be explored. Furthermore, thorough examination of the relevant literature along with suggestions for further research and discussion is included. This paper, however, seeks to understand how popular culture, postmodernism, and digital media influence the communicative practices within the Church. Questions inherent in the discussion include ways to enhance corporate communication (internally and externally) as well as ways in which the Church can remediate the negative impact of popular culture without disenfranchising members along generational divides.

Student e-Learning: Motivation, Innovation and Collaboration

I conducted a pilot study during the spring of 2014 as partial fulfillment of a Quantitative Research Methods course at Regent University. I wrote a critical paper entitled, Motivation, Innovation, and Collaboration: Student Response to Assignment Choice and Collaborative Learning Experiences to document my research project findings.


The purpose of this pilot study was exploratory and sought to understand the dichotomy between current literature, which was suggestive of positive influence in student learning in both innovation and collaboration experiences with direct observational experience. Furthermore, this study sought to understand the relationship between innovation and student assignment choice along with collaborative learning experience as it related to student perception and beliefs in valuation. Because this pilot study was contained to a small sample population without normal distribution, nonparametric statistical analysis was chosen as the best tool for analysis of the survey data. The sample is not representative of a more diverse population where the results may prove more significant. The results illuminated the need for further research in affective learning as it intersects student motivation when it comes to innovation in the classroom, curriculum, and course design.

Keywords: Affective learning, motivation, innovation, collaborative learning

Computational Semiotics

I wrote a critical paper entitled Beyond the Interface: Mediating Human Computer Interaction for a course in the History of Communication at Regent University in Fall 2013.


Humans and computers live together. They work collaboratively, almost in a seemingly symbiotic relationship. Humans use and rely upon technology, and nearly every facet of human existence and experience is tied to computer interaction and involvement. Technology and technological advances are everywhere – from the digital clock to the microwave oven to the OnStar system in automobiles – in fact, computers are such an integral part of our lives that we would find it difficult to live and function without them.

The history of the personal computer and the Internet is known generally by most technologically-savvy users, though many might not know the specifics, the key players, the events and the factors, leading up to the developments that are commonplace today. Computers and their use as well as human interaction and communication are one specific area that many users may accept as part of the overall technological package, but they might not know the significance of human computer interaction or why research into this discipline is proving to be especially valuable to computer scientists, academic researchers, designers, engineers, and others interested in developing technology to assist humans and to facilitate communication between them.

The focus of this paper is to briefly discuss the historical context of human computer interaction (HCI) and to review the cultural significance of HCI as it relates to human computer communication (HCC). Given the brevity of this paper, it would be impossible to fully discuss the implications and ramifications of HCI and HCC. Therefore, this paper will seek to introduce the topic, provide general background and contextual information, identify current research interests, and discuss ways in which HCI is influencing experience interaction, design interaction, and communicative processes necessary to create environments leading to social interaction and presence.

Gregory L. Bahnsen: Christian Communicator, Apologist, and Defender of the Faith

I wrote a critical paper on the late Dr. Gregory L. Bahnsen, entitled, Gregory L. Bahnsen: Christian Communicator, Apologist, and Defender of the Faith. This paper was for a course in History of Communication at Regent University taken in Fall of 2013.


Gregory Lyle Bahnsen was a Christian communicator, philosopher, apologist, lecturer, debater, and defender of the faith.  Bahnsen is most well known for his public debates against prominent atheists, and for his staunchly conservative theological positions, often creating controversy within reformed theological circles. Bahnsen’s prolific writing, along with a massive collection of teaching and lecture series, continues to educate, to inform, and to create thought-provoking discussion among Christian leaders, scholars and students. This brief historical account is designed to examine the background, the professional career, the apologetic foundation, the theological position, the communicative style, the influence, and the legacy of Gregory L. Bahnsen.