“Hands-on” experiences tend to be a classroom favorite across the nation, immediately grasping the attention of all of those who are participating. Sure, textbook philosophy and theories are significant, but the best way to prepare for a future career in communication is to experience real world expertise outside of the classroom.
Dr. Jennifer Mize Smith, Communication professor for Fall 2013, also believes this to be true. In fact, she has even gone so far as to include “hands-on” experience in her curriculum for the COMM 462 course, creating class field trips to various businesses within the Bowling Green community. “I designed the class to encourage students to apply the material and then see organizational communication aspects in action, in a real world setting and organizations….and I thought the best way to do that was to go and visit the organizations themselves. Sometimes, professors bring in guest speakers, but I wanted to actually go visit those key individuals in organizations, so that my students could see what it really means to apply core organizational communication concepts to real-life in a natural environment. It really adds a different dimension to how students are able to learn and develop their ideas and thought processes regarding what we initially learn in class,” said Dr. Mize Smith. The Advanced Organizational Communication professor says that these class field trips, which have been to the WKU Augenstein Alumni Center, BB&T, and Logan Aluminum, have definitely illustrated key organizational communication concepts, such as socialization, work-life balance, organizational identification, and organizational culture—concepts that were first introduced to students via weekly article readings, application papers, and journal reflections.
When asked within the classroom as to whether or not they appreciated, valued, and learned from the field trips, the COMM 462 students agreed, saying that they wished other professors would incorporate field trips into their class curriculum. Dr. Mize Smith believes the field trips to be successful thus far, and hopes to continue incorporating field trips into the Advanced Organizational Communication curriculum in future semesters, allowing her students to apply classroom learning to realistic situations.