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Enhancing student experience through the Arts & Sciences instructional fee

CommStudiesBy Tom Roesler
Communications & Events Coordinator

In 2013, the College of Arts & Sciences instituted an instructional improvement fee for its courses with the express intent to enhance the student experience within the college and provide opportunities that were previously scarce. Though the time it has been in effect has been small, the impact it’s having on students has been big.

The $8 per credit hour fee is designed to enhance student experience in the college by covering everything from classroom supplies and equipment to new student research and travel opportunities, like those of six Arts & Sciences students in the COMM 551: Senior Honors Thesis course who presented their research at the Central States Communication Association’s Undergraduate Honors Research Conference in April.

“There is no better way of learning about research than actually doing it and talking about it with others,” said Soo-Hye Han, assistant professor of communication studies and instructor of the senior honors thesis course. “My students worked extremely hard on their projects and had a great time presenting and interacting with students and scholars from across the country. I know this experience will stay with them for a long time.”

The six students, listed below, were able to present their research at the two-day conference held in Madison, Wisconsin. Three students received Top Research Poster Awards.

"Going through the research project and to the conference really excited me about our discipline,” said Emily Ruder, communication studies senior. “It got me really excited about continuing to graduate school and different possibilities that I have within the discipline.”

“It’s an amazing experience. Just to be up there talking to people about what you research and what they research,” said Arielle Monroe, communication studies senior. “It’s conversation on a whole other level.”

As the second year of the College of Arts & Sciences instructional improvement fee comes to an end, the impact is truly beginning to be felt.

“Instruction is improving across the college because of the funds generated by the instructional fee, and in every way, it benefits the students,” said Beth Montelone, associate dean for research and professor of biology. “In addition to paying for things like travel to research conferences, as Dr. Han’s students experienced, the money is being used to purchase supplies for classes, replace outdated classroom equipment, bring in outside guest speakers, take students on field trips, fund undergraduate research and really enrich the undergraduate experience in terms of formal instruction.”

The following are the communication studies students who attended the conference, along with the titles of their research presentation. Those with awards are noted.

  • Joseph Simon, senior, Quinter, KS - “Here’s the Church – Where are the College Students?: Exploring College Students’ Religiosity.” Top Undergraduate Honors Student Poster Award, Overall.
  • Arielle Monroe, senior, Kansas City, KS – “A Pentadic Analysis of the Beyoncé Voters Tumblr.” Top Undergraduate Honors Student Poster Award, Session I.
  • Emily Ruder, graduate master’s student, Plainville, KS – “The Narrative Construction of College Women’s Leadership Potential.” Top Undergraduate Honors Student Poster Award, Session II.
  • Briana Carrillo, senior, Wichita, KS – “An Investigative Study on What Influences the Successful Self-Disclosure of Traumatic Experiences.”
  • Madeline Weathers, senior, Overland Park, KS – “Let’s Talk About Autism: A Study on How Parents Communicate Autism to Their Non-Autistic Children.”
  • Thomas Weeks, senior, Weskan, KS – “Story Time: Examining Relational Satisfaction Jointly Told Stories by Dating Couples About a Time of Conflict in Their Relationships.”

Read more about the instructional fee in the Summer 2014 issue of A&S Letters.