Two Communication Studies Faculty Nominated for University Teaching Awards
The College of Communication and Information and School of Communication Studies congratulates two faculty members who are finalists for some of Kent State’s highest teaching honors:
- Professor Jeffrey Child (Communication Studies) was nominated for the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA), Kent State’s highest teaching honor. The Award is sponsored by the Alumni Association and honors full-time faculty members who demonstrate extraordinary teaching in the classroom.
- Associate Lecturer Aaron Bacue (Communication Studies) is a winner of the Outstanding Teaching Award for 2021. The University Teaching Council honors outstanding teaching by non-tenure-track and part-time Kent State faculty with this annual award.
Child, who has taught at Kent State for 14 years, was nominated for the Distinguished Teaching Award by former students.
“When I step inside a classroom (face-to-face, virtual, online or digital), I still find myself, nervous, excited, and filled with anticipation to learn who are the students with whom I will interact and how I can provide situated learning bits and bytes to help them along in their personal, educational, community and professional lives,” Child says. “I am blessed to teach communication studies, and to discuss issues, skills and perspectives that apply to all facets of our lives.”
In recent years, Child has taught Family Communication, Intro to Human Communication, Communication Research Methods and High Impact Speaking. In December 2020, students in his Communication Research Methods course (taught entirely remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic) surprised him with a virtual “thank you” that went viral on TikTok.
“I decided to make the video because Dr. Child truly worked so hard all semester to make sure we learned in spite of the crazy situation we are all living through with COVID,” said student Emma O’Keefe. “He was so understanding and still made class fun even though we couldn't be together physically, which made me excited to come to class.”
Paul Haridakis, Director of the School of Communication Studies, said: “It is inspiring to see that during his tenure, his passion for teaching has never waned, but, rather, continues to grow. Even in the most difficult times during which we had to transition our courses to remote formats, Jeff found ways to motivate, inspire, and guide his students in virtual classrooms with which many students were unfamiliar. ... His outstanding teaching has always stood out. This recognition is just the most recent example.”
Bacue, a winner of the Outstanding Teaching Award (OTA), has been teaching at Kent State since 2015. He is Communication Studies’ Internship Coordinator, and is teaching Communication in Small Groups and Teams, Communication and Conflict and Organizational Communication. At the end of the Fall 2020 semester, his students in “Seminar in Communication and Popular Culture” also surprised him with a virtual thank you.
Bacue incorporates feedback, professionalism and conversations about life events into his course content. He says: “I believe higher education should go beyond content mastery. Students need to understand not only the facts, theories, principles, and ideas presented in readings and lectures, but also how these apply to their lives outside the academy. I work hard to create a learning environment that fosters critical thinking, problem solving and real-world application.
“I expect students to become self-directed learners, engaging their curiosity about course content and then taking it to the next level by examining their personal lives through this expanded lens. In essence, I see myself and our work in the classroom as the catalyst for improving one’s personal and professional lives.”
Haridakis praised the way Bacue mentors and interacts with students.
“His office is near mine, and I watch him meeting with students everyday – mentoring them, encouraging them and simply engaging with them on a personal level,” Haridakis said. “He cares deeply. His students know that. And, anyone who watched him interacting with students would only have to see it once to be convinced that he is an exemplary candidate for this prestigious award.”