Wittenberg Students Engage In Collaborative Senior Projects

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Before Wittenberg students earn the privilege of walking across the stage in Commencement Hollow, they must first demonstrate in-depth knowledge in their chosen field of study. From a thesis to a research project to a poster session, Wittenberg seniors are challenged to present that knowledge before receiving their diploma.

In the case of Wittenberg communication majors, the senior thesis is a collaborative effort between students and faculty members. Over the course of this semester, communication seniors have been studying computer-mediated communication (CMC) in their capstone course. They will present their work in a poster session from 3:45-5:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, in the atrium of Hollenbeck Hall.

Catherine Waggoner, associate professor of communication, and Stefne Broz, assistant professor of communication, are leading the course of 29 students as they work in small groups to research various topics within CMC. Topic areas include online relational development, online support groups, virtual communities and online literacy. One of the goals of the senior seminar course is to have students demonstrate an understanding of the research process on an individual level and a macro-level, as they prepare chapters to be included in Wittenberg’s version of a “communication yearbook,” which addresses the state of the discipline in understanding CMC.

“Each year, we select an area of importance for communication students — one that features research from a variety of perspectives and methodologies so that our students may approach that area from an interest in interpersonal communication, rhetoric, critical/cultural studies, and/or media studies,” Waggoner explained.

While communication students complete multiple individual writing projects throughout the major, the capstone course is designed for students to demonstrate their competency in small-group work in order to synthesize and critique multiple perspectives.

“Because group work is an inevitability in their professional lives, and because of the synergistic benefits to be gained by such an approach, we believe this kind of experience is important for our majors,” Broz said.

Waggoner and Broz hope those who attend the poster session will gain a better understanding of the different kinds of research within the communication field as well as prompt people to consider how CMC has affected their own lives.

- Sarah Gearhart '06

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