Intellectual Adrenaline Junkie experiencing & studying this communication technology-filled world!
Archive for Research & Teaching Updates
I was preparing to teach interviewing for my internship class and I’ve updated my content substantially this year. For example, this recent article suggests that some companies might use tweets in addition to or in place of resumes. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/02/15/twitterviews-resumes/1919305/ While this might be an isolated case, I think it is a useful exercise to summarize “you” in 140 characters and in as few as 6. I was recently asked to summarize my work life in 6 words and it was really hard. I finally came up with: Biochemist turned social scientist, loves learning. Try it and see if it helps you crystalize what is important to you.
There are many trends in interviewing and hiring today. In my class we will also talk about Skype interviews, current trends of being interviewed by a computer through the Web, phone interviews, and making a substantial first impression.
My research on how people used combinations of technologies to receive emergency response notifications will appear in Human Communication Research in April 2013 (but an early version is on their website now). If you want to hear me describe this research and provide some of the background, feel free to check this out. My team found that multiple messages matter when we are trying to help people realize the urgency of the situation. There are differences between whether people receive the notification through an asynchronous communication channel like a text message or through synchronous channels like an in-person conversation. Those differences are discussed in detail in the article.
I am excited about the work that my undergraduate research team is conducting. We are examining student leadership and meetings. We will be reviewing the academic literature on this topic, but we hope to create content that is readable, but grounded in research.
Are you worried that you can’t multitask like today’s employers expect? Perhaps you get many projects completed, but you don’t do them all at the exact same time. The term “multitasking” has become a catchall for getting more done in less time, and further exploring this topic is why my colleagues and I conducted this research that appears in Human Communication Research in January 2012. The ideas for this study originated several years ago when I realized that my students (primarily juniors and seniors), were really worried about how jobs were being advertised and described. It is very common for the actual job ad to say they want a “multitasker.” My students would come to me privately and speak openly in class about their fear that employers thought they were technology experts and they were not. Furthermore, many of them did not enjoy what they perceived as the pressure they feel when others push them to work fast and juggle many projects and conversations. Now don’t get me wrong, I always have a few students who claim that they get an adrenaline rush from seeing how many chat or IM windows they can have open simultaneously while talking on the phone and updating Facebook and Twitter. But many of my students do not desire this highly externally-focused deliberately overstimulated environment. They might text constantly (even during class), but when they stop and think about how they prefer to work, it is different.
This study provides evidence that ‘juggling many projects in a sequence’ can also be considered multitasking. The pace might appear slower, but I’d like to see more research on which type of multitasker (simultaneous or sequential) is actually more productive over time. Our research found that millennials (people born between 1980 and 1995) perceive work environments to be faster paced and have an increased workload when those companies expect multiple tasks to be completed at the same time—simultaneously as opposed to allowing work tasks to be completed sequentially. These multitasking distinctions also influence people’s perceptions of how much they will need to be available outside of work hours. These findings support other claims that millennials are more aware of how their work and personal life blend, but in this study, women had a more nuanced view (they could tell differences between simultaneous, sequential, and monochonic cultures) than men of how organizational multitasking cultures could influence the expectations for availability outside of work.
I’d like to thank my students who have helped me realize that we needed a way to measure these different types of multitaskers. I am also grateful for the help of my co-authors, Dr. Jaehee Cho now at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Dr. Dawna Ballard, a communication and time scholar at UT Austin.
I just returned from the National Communication Association conference in New Orleans. I presented research on using text messaging to notify people of emergencies, the use of Twitter for technical communication, organizational meetings, and training and development. It is so interesting to get to see the diversity of research being presented that focuses on communication! I got several ideas for my graduate class on Organizational Technology that I will present in the Spring of 2012. I also talked with many people about my new undergraduate class beginning the fall of 2012 on organizational meetings.
I have been working on analyzing the data from the UT Sept. 28, 2010 active shooter emergency and text messaging really played an important notification role. I will be presenting the findings from the first study out of this data during the National Communication Association Meeting in New Orleans in November 2011. With all the fires in the Austin, Tx area it has me thinking about how people were notified. Sometimes you can smell smoke or see flames, but in the early stages of a fire, how did people know to evacuate? I suspect that much of this notification occurs by going door-to-door, the same way that my family learned to evacuate during the 1978 flood in central Texas. Yet some things are very different because during the recent fires, people started Tweeting, posting notifications on their Facebook pages, and the local news participated as well. This is such an important area of research because hopefully we can find ways to use communication tools to save lives.
It is hard to imagine that we are already back for the fall semester. I am very excited to teach two of my undergraduate classes in the same semester. The classes are very synergistic, yet contain very different content. I hope to provide my students with the opportunity to attend lectures that interest them in my other class. Too often we get so busy that we (myself included) do not take advantage of learning opportunities, so I hope at least a couple of students find this beneficial. I teach my Communicating to Build Sales Relationships course MWF 12-1pm and my Workplace Technologies course MWF 2-3. I also have an undergraduate research team that will start the second week of the semester and we will be exploring British Petroleum’s technical crisis communication message strategies. I am very committed to involving undergraduates in research, so if this interests you, come talk to me.
In the Spring of 2010 our research team conducted approximately 40 interviews with students around the UT Austin campus to better understand how they use communication technologies. We observed practices and made notes on those behaviors—i.e., students’ “studying” with books open, laptops opens, mobile phones sitting out, and carrying on face-to-face conversations, all at the same time. We asked students about their use of social media, their views on others’ use of communication technologies, and the strategies they use to check all their devices and accounts.
Each member of the team chose one interview and developed an in-depth case study on that person’s use of communication technologies. The team also met throughout the semester to compare notes and generate a series of themes that unified the findings. We hope to use some of these case studies in our courses at UT to provide current and real world examples of how communication technologies are being used successfully and how these tools can create problems for their users. The data will also be incorporated into a larger mixed methods research project that seeks to understand how students’ communication technology use might influence the organizations where they will work after they graduate.
The team consisted of four undergraduate students, Maureen Edobar, Erin Scott, Nhi Tran, & Cynthia Velasco. Two of these students were freshman and two were juniors. The graduate student who was heavily involved in this project was Abby Heller, a second year doctoral student. The principal investigator was Dr. Keri K. Stephens, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. For more information about this project or future research opportunities for undergraduate students, please contact email@example.com.
I spent a week in Northern Norway studying the communication involved in oil and gas exploration. I learned so much and had so many thoughts when I returned that I have been writing about my observations almost constantly. There were fisherman from Greenland who participated and their life experiences are quite eye opening. There were small business owners from the Lofoton Islands who shared their experiences as well. There were oil company representatives, NGOs, and non-profit organizations as well. As I begin to formulate my perspective on stakeholder communication in the Arctic, I know that they experience will shape my writing and me as a person.
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I am very excited to be attending the Arctic Dialogue off the coast of Norway in mid-March this year. This will be a fascinating conversation between many different stakeholders in the High North. The participants will be on the Coastal Steamer (a large ship based out of Norway) for a week and there will be a series of face-to-face conversations about natural resources and business expansion. I feel very fortunate to get to experience this conversation. For more information about the Arctic Dialogue, see http://www.hhb.no/index.php?ID=17112.