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Friday, October 8 • 4:00pm - 5:00pm
From Fatigue to Academic Investment: Helping Students Re-Engage with Their Studies

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This roundtable will allow participants to discuss successful strategies to student engagement that can help students invest in their coursework this fall and acclimate to being in face-to-face classes again. Conversations with some students suggest that a number of them are dealing with pandemic burn-out, ZOOM fatigue, and loss of intellectual appetite and a zest for their college career.

These panelists--all recognized as outstanding teachers who bring great ideas and energy to their classes--will share their insights about this topic. Their presentations bring a range of approaches to the concept of student engagement in the post-pandemic era, including shared virtual space, collective problem-solving and creative production, new forms of journalistic storytelling, a focus on mental health, belief in the prospects of education, and renewed commitments by students to their major course of study.

Ngozi Akinro, Texas Wesleyan University—"When Burnout Sets In: Sustaining Student Engagement in a Virtual Space." This panelist explores some of the challenges that students experienced during the last year and a half and the steps she continues to take to maintain student engagement. Of particular interest are the role of digital tools, content diversity, and the place of the students in creating an engaged classroom.
Aphrodite Salas, Concordia University—“Journalism As an Approach to (Self) Knowledge.” Production skills are front and center in visual and multimedia journalism classes. As the pandemic wore on and hands-on teaching continued to be replaced by zoom sessions and instructional videos, students in this Canadian journalism program struggled to keep up. This panelist describes how a “flipped” approach to the positionality of first-year student journalists asked them “what is working and why” in relation to the pandemic experience in their home communities. This shift in the story’s central question—allowing students to both report and reflect—positioned them differently vis-a-vis the news they were covering and produced a more personalized, engaged perspective on social impacts of the pandemic.
Jason Balas, University of North Texas—“Poor Man’s Process: Teaching Interior Car Shots.” This panelist describes an interactive video workshop that trains students to shoot interior car shots with a non-moving auto. Students appreciate this “tricks of the trade” lesson because it is physically active, occurs outdoors, and involves the entire class (lighting, videography, casting, acting, sound, special effects, and editing). Importantly, the workshop teaches students to produce visual effects they frequently see in movies and television and reminds them why they have chosen the digital production major for their careers.
Desiree Hill, University of Central Oklahoma--“Mental Health Tune-up: Pandemic Phase Two.” The focus of this presentation are post-pandemic mental health challenges faced by students in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelist focuses on best practices for recognizing, understanding, and addressing these mental health issues in the university setting. She also explores the post-pandemic “engaged classroom,” how it can be impacted by mental health concerns, and other pedagogical lessons of the pandemic that may/should be here to stay.
David Weiss, University of New Mexico—"Everything Old Is New Again: Engaging First-Semester Master’s Students at the Beginning of the Post-Pandemic Era.” Students beginning their graduate-school careers are usually bursting with energy and excitement, not to mention (more than) a bit of trepidation. This panelist explores additional, unprecedented challenges to engagement and success confronting new graduate students--and their instructors--when their first semester in grad school is also their first semester of on-campus classes in almost two years.
Glenda Balas, University of North Texas at Dallas—“Shedding Cynicism About Higher Ed: Helping Students See the Value of a College Education.” According to a recent study by marketing agency LaneTerralever, more than a third of prospective first year students at universities and almost half of new community college students are re-considering going to college. These students, most of whom spent 16 months at home and online due to the pandemic, are skeptical and even cynical about the value of college. This panelist discusses a career-planning activity for first-year communication students that asks them to identify what they “do not want” in their future. This exercise--which focuses on writing, critical thinking, and discussion—shifts the conversation from the “benefits” of college to a “risk analysis” of not earning a degree, an approach appreciated by many pragmatic, post-pandemic, first-year students seeking a good job.

avatar for Glenda Balas

Glenda Balas

Professor, University of North Texas - Dallas
Dr. Glenda Balas is a Professor in Communication and Technology at the University of North Texas at Dallas. She was formerly Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UNT Dallas; Professor and Chair of the Communication and Journalism Department at the University of New Mexico; and Chair... Read More →


Jason Balas

University of North Texas
avatar for David Weiss

David Weiss

Communication & Journalism Dept. Chair, University of New Mexico
I'm an associate professor of media studies and the chair of the Communication & Journalism Department at the University of New Mexico. My teaching and research interests include political communication, media theory and criticism, and the media and popular culture industries. I spent... Read More →

Ngozi Akinro

Associate Professor of Communication, Texas Wesleyan University
avatar for Aphrodite Salas

Aphrodite Salas

Assistant Professor, Concordia University
Aphrodite Salas is Director of the Graduate Diploma Program and assistant professor in the Journalism Department at Concordia University, where her research focuses on collaborative forms of visual journalism and more specifically, the decolonization of journalism education.Her m... Read More →
avatar for Desiree Hill

Desiree Hill

Assistant Professor, University of Central Oklahoma
Journalism-trauma-managementDesiree Hill, Ph.D., is a researcher, professor, former television news executive, and documentary filmmaker. Desiree received her Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma with a concentration on journalism, media management, and journalists and trauma. She... Read More →

Friday October 8, 2021 4:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
Channel A