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Journal of Public Relations Education - Full Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, March 2017


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Research Articles

I love tweeting in class, but.... A qualitative study of student perceptions of the impact of Twitter in large lecture classes Jenny Tatone, University of Oregon Tiffany Derville Gallicano, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Alec Tefertiller, University of Oregon

Preparing students for the global workplace: Current practices and future directions in international public relations education
Rajul Jain, DePaul University

Teaching media relationships: What’s in the textbooks? Justin E. Pettigrew, Kennesaw State University Kristen Heflin, Kennesaw State University

Teaching Briefs
From divide and conquer to dynamic teamwork: A new approach to teaching public relations campaigns Kristen Heflin, Kennesaw State University Shana Meganck, Virginia Commonwealth University

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Journal of Public Relations Education - Full Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, March 2017

  1. 1. Table of Contents   Research Articles 1 I love tweeting in class, but.... A qualitative study of student perceptions of the impact of Twitter in large lecture classes Jenny Tatone, University of Oregon Tiffany Derville Gallicano, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Alec Tefertiller, University of Oregon   14 Preparing students for the global workplace: Current practices and future directions in international public relations education Rajul Jain, DePaul University 36 Teaching media relationships: What’s in the textbooks? Justin E. Pettigrew, Kennesaw State University Kristen Heflin, Kennesaw State University Teaching Briefs 50 From divide and conquer to dynamic teamwork: A new approach to teaching public relations campaigns Kristen Heflin, Kennesaw State University Shana Meganck, Virginia Commonwealth University Volume 3, Issue 1, March 2017 A publication of the Public Relations Division of AEJMC © Copyright 2017 AEJMC Public Relations Division Find out more at:
  2. 2. Journal of Public Relations Education 2017, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1-13 I Love Tweeting in Class, But…. A Qualitative Study of Student Perceptions of the Impact of Twitter in Large Lecture Classes Jenny Tatone, University of Oregon Tiffany Derville Gallicano, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Alec Tefertiller, University of Oregon This is perhaps the first in-depth qualitative study that shares insights about the perceived role of Twitter on the learning ex- perience and the sense of classroom community from students’ perspectives in a large lecture class. We conducted four focus groups with a cumulative total of 27 students from a class of 269 students. Based on our data, we propose ways that Twitter might contribute to the sense of classroom community, which could be tested through quantitative research. We also identify ways that Twitter helps and undermines students’ learning experience. In addition, we found a surprising theme about Twitter fostering a sense of competition in the class when projected on the wall. This study concludes with recommendations for integrating Twitter in the large lecture class. Millennials are known as digital natives-they grew up using digital media and are accustomed to using it throughout the day (Porter Novelli, 2008; Válek & Sládek, 2012). According to a Pew study, 90% ofAmericans ages 18-29 use social media and 86% of them own a smartphone (Perrin, 2015). Smartphones and social media have become so essential to the everyday lives of today’s young adults that some of them believe that they would feel invisible without them (Boyd, 2014; Tatone, 2016). The publicly networked spaces that digital media afford play a central role in shaping the ways young adults perceive their life experiences––personally, socially, and culturally (Ito et al., 2009; Tatone, 2016). Educators in various disciplines are exploring the potential of social media to play a powerful role in another area of young adults’ experiences––their education (e.g., Cole, Hibbert, & Kehoe, 2013; D’Angelo & Woosley, 2007; Tyma, 2011). All of the studies we found about Twitter in the context of large lecture classes used surveys, experiments, or content analysis as a method, with the exception of Tyma’s (2011) study, and her qualitative data resulted from one large class discussion, as opposed to in-depth focus groups or interviews. The studies using quantitative methods have pro- vided insight into the potential of Twitter to contribute to learning (e.g., Cole, Hibbert, & Kehoe, 2013; Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2011; Kim et al., 2015) and to be a source of
  3. 3. Tatone, Gallicano & Tefertiller 2 distraction (e.g., Varadajan, 2011). Qualitative research can play a key role by helping ed- ucators understand students’ in-depth explanations of how Twitter can help with learning, interfere with learning, or do both, as well as discovering students’ recommendations for how to integrate it into the large lecture classroom based on their experiences. We thought our class would be an interesting context for this qualitative research because we tried out various implementation strategies in response to student feedback with regard to the timing of class tweets and projecting the Twitter feed on the wall. We also saw an opportunity to explore any ways that Twitter might influence perceptions of the sense of classroom com- munity, particularly given the lack of research about it in a large lecture context. LITERATURE REVIEW Strategies for Integrating Twitter Instructors are discovering strategies to improve the use of Twitter in large lecture classes. Despite the likelihood that most students have had some experience with Twitter, the literature suggests that a tutorial about how to use Twitter effectively is helpful to students (e.g., Junco et al., 2011; Tyma, 2011; Varadarajan, 2011). In addition, instructors have found that students need reminders on occasion to keep tweets relevant to the class lecture (e.g., Cole et al., 2013; Pollard, 2014). Some students want their instructors to send these reminders, so they do not have to see the distracting content or call out their class- mates who are tweeting irrelevant content (Tyma, 2011). A teaching assistant can handle these reminders during the lecture when seeing off-topic tweets. Another issue is whether the live tweets with the class hashtag should be projected onto the classroom wall. Elavsky, Kumanyika, and Mislan (2011) noticed that participation on the class hashtag increased when the Twitter feed was projected onto the wall in their large lecture media and democ- racy class. An additional consideration is whether Twitter can be used to sustain students’ attention during class. We found a study that recommended restricting Twitter use to desig- nated Twitter intervals (Cole, Hibbert, & Kehoe, 2013) to help students focus on the lecture content. In another study, Kim et al. (2015) used a game approach to sustaining students’ attention by presenting surprise Twitter questions on lecture slides and awarding points to a limited number of students who correctly answered the questions on Twitter using the class hashtag. Through a survey, participant observation, and exam scores from a comparison of class sections in which Twitter was used and not used, the research team concluded that their approach to integrating Twitter in the large lecture classroom helped students stay focused during class and learn the material. Junco, Heibergert, and Loken (2011) studied the related topic of class engagement and produced a significantly higher engagement score in their class section in which Twit- ter was used, as compared to their class section in which Twitter was not used. Thus, their strategies for integrating Twitter into the large lecture classroom have credibility. They applied the following principles for undergraduate education by Chickering and Gamson (1987): (1) Student/faculty contact (by adding Twitter as a communication channel) (2) Cooperation among students (by encouraging students to use Twitter to ask each
  4. 4. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 3 other questions, collaborate on a project, and offer one another emotional support) (3) Active learning (by asking students to use Twitter to connect the class material to their own experiences) (4) Prompt feedback (by responding quickly to students’ tweets) (5) Emphasizing time on task (by expanding class discussions past class meeting days through the Twitter channel) (6) Communicating high expectations (by using Twitter to promote high quality work) (7) Respecting diversity (by discussing diversity through the Twitter feed) Junco applied Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) principles in a later study with his colleagues when investigating the difference of requiring Twitter in class, as opposed to making it optional (Junco, Elavsky, & Heibergert, 2013). His research team concluded that large lecture classes should require Twitter use because his optional Twitter class section had lower class engagement and learning scores than his required Twitter class section, as measured by comparing student surveys and scores from each section. In a related study, Pollard (2014) did not require Twitter use and found that the majority of students in her history course of 370 students did not participate on the class hashtag. Nevertheless, the majority of her students found Twitter in the classroom to be somewhat valuable, with 18% reporting that it was incredibly useful. Her findings suggest that the student behavior of lurking on the Twitter channel by observing without tweeting to it could have at least some value, which might not be visible through a content analysis of participation. The Sense of Classroom Community Students who believe their class has a strong sense of classroom community have a sense of belonging to a class, believe that classmates care about one another, perceive that all of the students have a mutual responsibility to one another, and experience shared expectations about meeting common goals as students in the same class (Rovai & Lucking, 2000; Rovai, 2002). The sense of classroom community can make a difference to learning (Rovai, 2002; Wighting, 2006). We did not see any studies about Twitter’s contribution to the sense of classroom community in the context of large lecture classes, so we thought this would be a partic- ularly interesting area to explore. A study with some relevance to the role of Twitter in enhancing a sense of classroom community in a large lecture class was C. M. Elvasky et al.’s (2013) study. These researchers found that 81.1% of the 260 participants in their me- dia and democracy class thought that in-class tweets made the class feel smaller and more interconnected. In a tangentially related study about online discussion boards, which could be similar to Twitter, 59% of 341 students believed that the required discussion boards contributed to their sense of social connection with their peers in their large lecture course (Stoerger & Kreiger, 2016). Research Questions As noted in the introduction, we could not find any in-depth qualitative studies that involved hearing students’ perspectives about Twitter in a large lecture class. To ex- plore how Twitter might affect students’ learning experience and the sense of classroom
  5. 5. Tatone, Gallicano & Tefertiller 4 community from their perspectives, we investigated the following research questions: RQ 1: In what ways do students think the use of Twitter as a pedagogical tool in the large college classroom affected their learning experience (if it had any effect)? RQ 2: How do students think the use of Twitter as a pedagogical tool in the large lecture classroom affected their sense of class community (if it had any impact)? METHOD Class Context and Professor Interaction This study reports data from an entry-level course with 269 students that intro- duced students to public relations, advertising, journalism, and communication studies. A public relations professor taught the class and discussed the public relations angles of most of the topics the class explored. A tweet was required during every class meeting that did not have an exam. Students were required to use their real names in either their Twitter handle or profile. An alternative option in this section for students choosing to not tweet was to write a handwritten comment each time a tweet was required and submit it to their assigned teaching assistant. The professor discussed the basics of Twitter and emphasized the professional advantages of Twitter, as well as recommendations for using it in a profes- sional context. The course ended at 5:20 p.m., and in the evenings of the class meetings, the professor spent one to three hours reading, retweeting, and responding to tweets on the course hashtag. Despite a study’s recommendation to stop class lectures to have a designated pe- riod for a Twitter interval (Cole et al., 2013), we chose initially to invite the class to tweet at any point during the class due to several of our colleagues’ anecdotal experiences with using this unrestrained Twitter approach. We received complaints from students about this unrestrained Twitter approach, so after the first two weeks of tweeting throughout class, we switched to designated Twitter intervals. During these intervals, the lecture stopped, and students were instructed to take a moment to focus on writing a tweet based on a prompt delivered in class, and they were reminded of the alternative of writing a reflection of sim- ilar length. We encouraged students to take a moment to read each other’s tweets and con- sider favoriting any they liked. They were then asked to put their phones away, although the auditorium was so large that it was difficult to enforce this policy. Sampling for Focus Groups and Participants All students were invited to participate in a focus group in exchange for extra credit. Due to the class size, we had planned to give all of the students who signed up for a focus group spot extra credit, regardless of whether we ended up including them in the focus groups; however, only 20 students registered for the focus groups. We recruited another 10 students, three of whom did not show up. We believe that the low rate of vol- unteering might have been due to the timing of the focus groups on a Saturday morning, combined with a heavy homework time (with just two weeks remaining of class), and a major competing campus event that attracted hundreds of students. The four focus groups had a cumulative total of 27 students. We did not conduct additional focus groups because we reached saturation with the data (see Glaser & Strauss, 1967).
  6. 6. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 5 We wanted to group similar people together, in line with the homogenous sam- pling strategy for focus groups (Miles & Huberman, 1994; Patton, 1990). Consequently, we organized the focus groups by the grades students were earning at the time of the course (without revealing this information to the students). We used purposive sampling by send- ing individual solicitations to people who stood out through their substantive tweets and by identifying people who could fill in the spaces we had in the grade groups. Although we tried to have 10 students per group, ultimately, we had a group of nine A students, plus a C student who showed up to the wrong group; a group of eight B students; a group of seven C students; and a group of three students in a combined D/F group. The focus group participants had name cards in front of them to facilitate interaction, and cupcakes were served. Regarding demographics, there were 11 Caucasian students (including 5 females and 6 males); 10 Asian students (all females); 2 Hispanic students (both females); 2 Cauca- sian-Middle Eastern students (1 male and 1 female); and 1 Caucasian-Asian male student. Students ranged in age from 18-27. The median age was 20. Focus Group Approach and Protocol We used a semi-structured approach, which allowed for a naturally flowing con- versation wherein students elaborated frequently on other students’ comments, which of- ten helped to shape the conversation’s direction more than our focus group protocol [see Appendix]. This semi-structured approach also gave us the opportunity to ask follow-up questions on what the conversation’s natural unfolding revealed, giving us greater insight (Krueger, 1988). By asking open-ended questions and allowing focus group conversations to follow their own course, we believe we reduced the power difference with our students (see Lindlof & Taylor, 2002; Madriz, 2000) and positioned participants as experts rather than as subjects of a research study (Lee, 1993). Additionally, the focus group setting en- abled participants to further explore their initial reactions to questions by interacting with one another, thus enhancing the quality of the results (see Madriz, 2000). Each focus group lasted an average of 54 minutes. A potential drawback of the focus groups was that students might have felt in- fluenced to say what they thought other students and the focus group moderator wanted to hear. In each group, the focus group moderator was either the professor or one of the graduate teaching fellows who had guest lectured a few times and worked with students closely. In an attempt to offset these potential drawbacks, we reminded students that honest feedback was of the utmost importance because the purpose of the focus groups was to learn from them. We told students we wanted to learn about the educational value, or lack thereof, with regard to incorporating Twitter into future curricula. In this way, we followed Krueger’s (1988) guideline to tell focus groups what the researchers want to discover from them. Furthermore, we told students that feedback from our previous classes had helped to shape the present course, so this was a good opportunity to continue the goodwill toward future classes by being honest and constructive. We responded in a supportive manner to all opinions and welcomed all viewpoints throughout the discussions. Data Analysis We performed a thematic analysis on the transcripts by seeking common patterns
  7. 7. Tatone, Gallicano & Tefertiller 6 while noting the wide variety of responses we received (see Miles & Huberman, 1994). We used our research questions as a lens for reducing the data; next, we coded the relevant content by phrase, sentence, or paragraph, depending on the length of the relevant chunk of text (see Miles & Huberman, 1994). We used emic codes (i.e., the participants’ phrases) when possible and otherwise used etic codes (i.e., our words) when participants’ phrases were too long or did not summarize the content (see Lindlof & Taylor, 2002). RESULTS RQ 1: In what ways do students think the use of Twitter as a pedagogical tool in the large college classroom affected their learning experience (if it had any effect)? Students commented on various advantages and disadvantages of Twitter as a tool for their learning experience. Many students valued the ability to express various view- points and learn from one another, although for some students, this marketplace of ideas via Twitter was more idealistic than what had actually occurred. Furthermore, students noted a major drawback of the potential for Twitter use in the college classroom to lead them down a rabbit hole into the use of social media unrelated to class. In addition, some students brought up that they disliked having their speech limited to the 140-character tweet limit. Nevertheless, the same students recognized that having to do this developed their skills. Details are included below. Many participants agreed that the hashtag provided a place to share and learn from multiple points of view: This is why Twitter’s really cool—you can have your own opinion and at that same time you can share what you think is correct without degrading that other person’s opinion. It’s a very open way of making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and to make sure that no voice is completely stamped out… no voice is elevated to the highest pedestal. (Student from the A group) Some students recognized Twitter’s potential for enabling a marketplace of ideas––fitting their expectation of what college was meant to offer––while noting that it did not reach this ideal: The entire point of college … [is] to not be around like-minded people…. Twit- ter… in a class college setting, embodies that in that you can see other people’s opinions and, if you feel so inclined, you’re able to argue your point, and…ar- guing in an academic sense is where the greatest ideas come from. …In its most ideal sense, Twitter would lead to... an argument of conviction, but sometimes it’s not that … most of the time, it’s not that. (Student from the A group) Nevertheless, some students shared evidence of intellectual debate on the course hashtag. For example, the class studied the circuit of culture in the context of the public relations battle between the producers of the movie Ridiculous Six and Native American protestors. A student who rarely talked in class noted, “A lot of people were saying, ‘It’s by Adam Sandler. You shouldn’t take it seriously,’ and I was just one by one [tweet by tweet] knock- ing out why representation is really important and it feels good [to recall that experience].” When asked about student reactions to her tweets, she noted that she received some com- ments and a lot of favorites “from people spectating the little showdowns.” Twitter gave
  8. 8. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 7 several students increased agency for expressing their views in class. A student from the D group commented, “I feel like what’s cool about Twitter is if you do talk about these topics, it’s a cool, more informal, more comfortable way of expressing my opinion.” A downside of Twitter was the potential for distraction. The switch to Twitter in- tervals (in which Twitter was only projected on the wall during designated Twitter periods after the second week of class) helped some students with regard to the distracting aspects of Twitter. “When we first started, I thought it was a really big distraction to have it on the wall because people kept staring at that and not paying attention, but once you started doing the intervals, it was good” (Student from the A group). A student from the B group commented, Twitter in the classroom…has its perks and its downfalls. I love seeing different perspectives from other students, because obviously I don’t know what every- one’s thinking, so seeing their thoughts is really interesting – some things I’d never really thought about…. I guess lately the downfall is I get distracted. I start to focus on the J201 hashtag, and I’m not really paying attention as much as I could on the lecture. For other students, even the use of Twitter intervals continued to be problematic: “It’s dis- tracting because when I look on the phone, there’s so many other things on it, so it’s like you just see that little edge… [of] another app; it’s like, ‘Ah, you want to touch it so bad’” (Student from the C group). Students brought up the issue of the 140-character limit with regard to the ed- ucational value of Twitter: “I don’t understand why I would download something that limits what I can say … I just never really saw the point” (Student from the A group). A student from the B group noted, “I almost have to sacrifice what I think ‘cause it doesn’t fit in the 140 characters, so that’s problematic. But it’s almost like a skill…something that you learn how to do over time.” A student from the A group said, “Eventually, I realized tweets are an easy way for me to make concise comparisons that were easy to remember. So I began appreciating the tweets.” Thus, some students disliked the character limit while acknowledging that learning how to fit their thoughts into a tweet had value. The results of the qualitative study suggest that for many (but not all) students, Twitter helped students exchange views and be exposed to different viewpoints. On the downside, many students reported struggles with getting distracted on their phones after visiting the hashtag. RQ 2: How do students think the use of Twitter as a pedagogical tool in the large lecture classroom affected their sense of class community (if it had any impact)? Twitter impacted most of the participants’ perceptions of the classroom commu- nity; however, it did so in different ways. Although there were some students for whom Twitter had no impact on the sense of community, for many others, it tended to increase the sense of community while also infusing it with a spirit of competition. This spirit of competition seemed focused on entertaining each other, to the detriment of the educational value. Details are presented below. For many students, Twitter increased the sense of community. One way that Twit- ter increased the sense of community was by helping students bond through seeing one another’s similar reactions. A student from the D group commented,
  9. 9. Tatone, Gallicano & Tefertiller 8 When we were talking about copyright issues and stuff recently, the whole time, when she was going over the rules for it, and I had no idea about the rules for copyright stuff before that, I was thinking like, ‘What?’, like, ‘copyright should last forever.’And then I was just thinking that I was probably alone in that thought. But then I saw that people had tweeted, ‘No, it should last forever.’And then I was like, ‘Yeah, like, that’s what I think’ (laughs). Hearing the different views, when it’s something that the teacher is supposed to be unbiased or chooses to be unbi- ased about when she is providing information, it’s interesting, helpful, I think. Twitter also increased the sense of community by helping the class know ad- ditional student thought leaders who were reluctant to speak in a classroom auditorium setting. It also gave thought leaders an online opportunity to continue their conversations outside of the class lecture. For example, in the grade A focus group, there was a student who stood out for passionately asserting her opinions frequently on Twitter; she was also a compelling writer. Despite her large share of classroom voice on Twitter, she only spoke in the classroom once and this was after significant encouragement by her professor toward the end of the course: “Without Twitter, I wouldn’t feel welcome to participate. I wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking and having you repeat what I’m saying over the microphone.” Another thought leader in this woman’s focus group recognized her from Twitter: “[Lau- ren] and I had never met but we communicate on Twitter a lot.” [Lauren] concurred: “We talk so much on Twitter.” Finally, the sense of community was also enhanced by students responding to each other’s questions pertaining to matters such as where to find an assign- ment description. For many participants, Twitter amplified the sense of competition in the class- room community by producing pressure to come up with tweets that would “one-up” other tweets or garner positive feedback through a favorited tweet. Students explained that these tweets were designed primarily to entertain each other rather than enrich the education- al experience. Students explained that projecting the Twitter feed on the classroom wall contributed to the sense of competition: “Once you’ve broadcasted on the wall and people see a physical reaction to what they’re saying, it stops becoming about learning. It starts becoming about––how can I get the most laughs; how can I make sure I’m the coolest” (Student from the A group). As another student from the A group recalled, “I see a meme and I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to make a funnier one.’” Another student from the group added, “I’m like, ‘I’m going to post something that’s going to knock it out of the park.’” The tweets were related to the class content but arguably had more entertainment value than educational value. DISCUSSION The growing prominence of social media in the lives of many of today’s college students is challenging our values and norms surrounding education. Educators and schol- ars are seeking to understand how to best adapt to the pace with which digital technologies are advancing, blurring lines between education and entertainment, virtual and real, public and private, affecting the way students feel, think, and relate, both inside and outside of the classroom (Ito et al., 2009). Our study provides a needed contribution to the literature by perhaps being the first qualitative study that involved an in-depth approach that achieved
  10. 10. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 9 qualitative saturation with regard to exploring students’stories and views with regard to the integration of Twitter in a large lecture setting. As a qualitative study, the findings are not generalizable; however, they can still provide insight in the context of one university class involving the strategies we used. The Sense of Classroom Community Through our qualitative research, we found that a sense of community in the classroom through Twitter might be influenced by the following variables: • Helping students bond through seeing one another’s similar reactions; • Helping students feel like they belong when their tweets are favorited or retweeted; • Helping students develop relationships with one another by helping each other out with basic questions about the course, such as the location of assignment instructions; • Enabling the rise of additional class thought leaders who provided excellent content using the course hashtag but felt reluctant to speak in a classroom auditorium setting; and • Fostering additional discussion on the course hashtag, as compared to the amount of verbal discussion in the classroom. These applications of Twitter to the sense of classroom community fit well with Rovai and Lucking’s (2000) conceptualization of the concept, particularly with regard to feeling a sense of belonging, feeling like members care for one another, perceptions of shared re- sponsibilities to one another, and perceptions of shared learning goals. Sense of Competition A new theme we had not read about in the literature that surprised us was the theme of competition on the course hashtag. Our qualitative data suggested that projecting tweets on a classroom wall could increase a sense of competition among students, which can devolve into attempts to entertain one another rather than share knowledge. Research is needed to discover whether there are ways to productively harness this competition toward educational goals (and if so, what those ways are) and whether a sense of compe- tition among students should even be promoted, particularly with regard to how a sense of competition might intrude on the sense of classroom community (as conceptualized by Rovai & Lucking, 2000). Thus, this study introduces a question with regard to Elavsky et al.’s (2011) finding that participation on the class hashtag jumped when the Twitter feed was projected on the wall. Does the overall quality of the tweets change when the tweets are projected, and if so, how? Initial insight from this study, based on students’ accounts, suggests that projecting tweets might detract from the tweets’ intellectual rigor. There is a temptation to send entertaining but educationally shallow tweets to create ripples of appre- ciation throughout an auditorium. Guidance for Tweets In addition, this study goes further than the recommendation in the literature about reminding students from time to time to keep their tweets relevant (e.g., Cole et al., 2013; Pollard, 2014). Based on our study, we suggest that instructors (who choose to use Twitter) provide significant guidance in helping students to understand the type of tweets
  11. 11. Tatone, Gallicano & Tefertiller 10 that add to the educational value of the hashtagged discussion and the types of tweets that are not worthy of points. The strategies of providing reminders to increase the intellectual quality of tweets and rigorously grading the quality of tweets could be steps in the right direction. Anec- dotally speaking, we used these strategies in a subsequent version of the class, and the intellectual rigor of tweets from the students who tended to entertain rather than educate eventually increased when they noticed that they were not receiving points for their vacu- ous tweets and followed up with us to learn why. The quality of tweets also increased in a subsequent class in which we did not award points for vanity tweets that merely expressed enthusiasm for the professor or topic without adding value to the conversation. We want to note that the rigorous grading strategy required much more time than the simplistic grading strategy did due to emails and direct message tweets from many individual students who asked questions about why they were not receiving points for their tweets and how their tweets could improve (even though we had already addressed these topics during the lecture). During the subsequent class, we also noticed that we had additional opportunities to correct students on their understanding of the class content or provide information to help students formulate better arguments, perhaps because there was more intellectual content for our responses than there appeared to be earlier. Formal research can explore these anecdotal insights with greater credibility than these casual ob- servations can provide. Frequency of Tweets A clear recommendation from our research was that for most of our participants, the invitation to tweet throughout class was too much of a distraction to justify this ap- proach. With some vocal exceptions, there was a consensus in the focus groups that follow- ing the hashtag, tweeting, and listening to a lecture was overwhelming and even stressful. Thus, this research provides strong endorsement for designated Twitter intervals, as recom- mended by Cole et al. (2013). The Learning Experience In addition, our qualitative data suggested ways in which Twitter both helps and undermines the learning experience, which can be tested through future research. Students who viewed Twitter as valuable for their education praised it as a platform for exposing themselves to different views they had not considered. Some students recognized that hav- ing to condense their thoughts into tweets was a good skill to develop, as exasperating as it was to confine their speech. The major way focus group participants saw Twitter undermining their learning experience was its ability to distract them from class, particularly due to the temptation to open other apps on their phones before tuning back in to the lecture. As we noted in the literature review, several studies have concluded that Twitter has the potential to contribute to students’ learning experience (e.g., Cole, Hibbert, & Kehoe, 2013; Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2011; Kim et al., 2015); however, in another study, students emphasized the distracting nature of Twitter and did not think it should be used in large lecture classes (see Varadarajan, 2011). We believe that Varadajan’s differing results might be due to the
  12. 12. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 11 lack of using Twitter intervals based on the difference the intervals made to our students’ experiences. CONCLUSION Understanding the adoption of Twitter in the classroom from students’ perspec- tives in an open-ended question format provided rich data from their perspectives. We believe part of the value of this study lies in recommendations about how Twitter should be integrated into the large lecture classroom with regard to frequency of tweets, guide- lines for insisting on intellectual tweets (reinforced via scoring), and potential effects of projecting tweets onto the classroom wall––for those instructors choosing to integrate it. With these recommendations also comes caution about students’ temptation to continue using their phones in classroom auditoriums following Twitter intervals for non-class ac- tivity and the significant investment of instructor and teaching assistant time, at least with the approach we took. As additional studies are conducted, we will continue to learn more about the pedagogical use of this resource. REFERENCES Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in under- graduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3, 7. Cole, M. L., Hibbert, D. B., & Kehoe, E. J. (2013). Students’ perceptions of using Twitter to interact with the instructor during lectures for a large-enrollment chemistry course. Journal of Chemical Education, 90, 671–672. doi:10.1021/ed3005825 D’Angelo, J. M., & Woosley, S. A. (2007). Technology in the classroom: Friend or foe? Education, 127, 462–472. Elavsky, C. M., Kumanyika, C.; & Mislan, C. (2011). Disrupting or developing discourse? Twitter and the microprocesses of learning community in the media studies classroom. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Communication Association, Boston, MA. Retrieved from p491771_index.html Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualita- tive research. New York, NY: de Gruyter. Ito, M., Antin, J., Finn, M., Law, A., Manion, A., Mitnick, S., ... & Horst, H. A. (2009). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT press. Junco, R., Elavsky, C. M., & Heibergert, G. (2013). Putting Twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44, 273–287. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01284.x Junco, R., Heibergert, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119–132. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x Kim, Y., Jeong, S., Ji, Y., Lee, S., Kwon, K. H., & Jeon, J. W. (2015). Smartphone response system using Twitter to enable effective interaction and improve engagement in
  13. 13. Tatone, Gallicano & Tefertiller 12 large classrooms. IEEE Transactions on Education, 58, 98–103. doi:10.1109/ TE.2014.2329651 Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus groups: A practical guide for research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Lee, R. M. (1993). Doing research on sensitive topics. London, England: Sage. Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2002). Qualitative communication research methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Madriz, E. (2000). Focus groups in feminist research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed.), pp. 835-850). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Perrin, A. (2015, October 8). Social media usage: 2005-2015. Retrieved from http://www. Pollard, E. A. (2014). Tweeting on the backchannel of the jumbo-sized lecture hall: Max- imizing collective learning in a world history survey. The History Teacher, 47, 329–354. Porter Novelli. (2008). Intelligent dialogue: Millennials [White paper]. Retrieved from Rovai, A.P. (2002). Sense of community, perceived cognitive learning and persistence in asynchronous learning networks. The Internet and Higher Education, 5, 319–332. Rovai, A. P., & Lucking, R. A. (2000). Measuring sense of classroom community. Paper presented at Learning 2000: Reassessing the Virtual University, Virginia Tech, Roanoke, VA. Stoerger, S., & Kreiger, D. (2016). Transforming a large-lecture course into an active, en- gaging, and collaborative learning environment. Education for Information, 32, 11–26. doi:10.3233/EFI-150967 Tatone, J. (2016). Integrating contemplative learning into new media literacy: Heightening self-awareness and critical consciousness for enriched relationships with new me- dia ecologies (Master’s thesis). University of Oregon. Tyma, A. (2011). Connecting with what is out there! Using Twitter in the large lecture. Communication Teacher, 25(3), 175–181. Válek, J., & Sládek, P. (2012). Immersed into digital world. Learning and students’percep- tion. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69, 1866–1870. Varadarajan, R. (2011). Use of Twitter to encourage interaction in a multi-campus pharma- cy management course. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75(5), 1. Wighting, M.J. (2006). Effects of computer use on high school students’ sense of commu- nity. The Journal of Educational Research, 99, 371–379.
  14. 14. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 13 Appendix: Focus Group Protocol IRB forms, name tags, demographic forms, and snacks. Check the recorder. Why we’re doing this study: • Help us in our teaching. • Help other university professors who are considering tech options in large lecture classes. • Part of our job is research. Ground rules: • Try not to interrupt or talk over anyone. • Different opinions are welcome. • Please be completely honest with your feedback. • Concrete examples and stories are especially helpful. Questions (Note: for space considerations only the major questions were provided here. Probes are not included) 1. How long ago did you join Twitter and why did you join it? 2. For those of you who used Twitter prior to J201, what were your experiences with using Twitter? 3. What were your initial thoughts and feelings upon finding out that you would be asked to tweet to a class hashtag during our class? 4. What was it like during the first couple of weeks when you were tweeting through- out class? 5. How did you feel about having the live Twitter feed projected on the wall? 6. Can you describe the experience you had when you posted your first tweets to the #UOJ201 hashtag? 7. What are your thoughts about when [Tiffany/I] shifted from having you tweet throughout class to having designated intervals for tweeting during class? 8. What are your thoughts about the tweets on our class hashtag? 9. Can anyone talk about interacting with others on the hashtag and what that experi- ence was like? 10. How do you decide what to tweet? 11. Can you describe the ways in which using Twitter as part of the large classroom experience engaged, distracted or, in some other way, affected you? 12. Do you think cell phones should be used in large lecture classes? Why or why not? 13. Can you talk about your thoughts on the ideal college classroom experience in a large lecture class – what student technology, if any, works best for you – including not just Twitter but any social media and any classroom response technology, such as Top Hat or the iClicker. 14. Time pending: Have you talked to others about your use of Twitter in the classroom and, if so, in what ways did you describe the experience to them? 15. Time pending: What are some of the general thoughts and feelings you have toward class use of Twitter and other social media, both in and out of the classroom? 16. Is there anything you would like to add?
  15. 15. Preparing Students for the Global Workplace: Current Practices and Future Directions in International Public Relations Education Rajul Jain, DePaul University Abstract This study examines the various ways in which international public relations courses are being taught at academic institutions in the U.S. Course curricula from over 300 universities that have a Pub- lic Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter were analyzed to identify international public relations focused cours- es. Subsequently, 26 course syllabi from 23 educators were ex- amined to understand the approaches, means, and methods that they employ to prepare future practitioners for cross-cultural and global assignments. The findings show that international public relations courses are still missing from curricula. However, exist- ing courses cover a range of topics demonstrating varying levels of adoption of professional and scholarly recommendations. Ex- amples of current practices and future directions in international public relations education are provided. Keywords: International public relations education; Culture; Glob- al context; Course syllabi Contemporary public relations is undeniably “a global profession in an increas- ingly-connected world where mutual understanding and harmony are more important than ever” (Commission, 2006, p. 6). While the term “public relations” itself was first coined in the U.S., the profession has developed and formalized in several parts of the world (Curtin & Gaither, 2007). Even traditionally underdeveloped and largely ignored countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East have become lucrative markets for practicing pub- lic relations (Sriramesh & Verčič, 2001). The fluidity of and access to communication platforms have also leveled the playfield, enabling even smaller organizations to compete globally. Public relations practitioners are uniquely positioned to serve this growing need for global integration through communication, because the value of the profession is in cultivating relationships between organizations and publics (Tench & Deflagbe, 2008). Relationships between organizations and publics are often complicated by the social, cultural, political, economic, and other contexts in which relational exchanges take place in the globally interconnected and interdependent world. As a result, public relations Journal of Public Relations Education 2017, Vol. 3, No. 1, 14-35
  16. 16. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 15 practitioners are expected to perform the role of cultural intermediaries responsible for communicating across national, social, and cultural boundaries. In other words, for public relations practitioners to add value to their organizations, they must demonstrate cultural sensitivity and an awareness of the global community (Hatzios & Lariscy, 2008; Taylor, 2001). The more public relations practitioners know, the greater help they will be when building intercultural bridges and filling ethnocentric gaps between organizations and key stakeholders. For many future professionals, this understanding will begin in the class- room. Evidently, the virtually homogenized world, with its blurred boundaries, has made public relations an attractive career choice for students who want to serve the industry in both domestic and international roles (Culbertson & Chen, 1996). However, previous research has found that only a few institutions offer international public relations courses (Culbertson & Chen, 1996). Hence, it becomes imperative to conceive effective ways in which academic institutions and educators can impart knowledge that can prepare future practitioners for cross-cultural and global assignments. Recognizing the importance of global issues and contexts in public relations, The Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE) has time and again released guidelines for curriculum development with an emphasis on global competence (Commission, 2006). And yet, public relations pedagogy has often been criticized for its U.S. bias and exclusion of experiences and perspectives from other countries (Sriramesh, 2002; Toth & Aldoory, 2010). What is even more problematic is that the discipline lacks a comprehensive under- standing of the current status of public relations education and the extent to which it inte- grates global perspectives. While a few studies have examined public relations pedagogy in the U.S. as well as other countries, these studies did not specifically focus on the global aspect of teaching public relations (Gonçalves, Spinola, & Padamo, 2013; L’Etang 1999; Toth & Aldoory, 2010). Therefore, the purpose of this study is to bridge the gap in the body of knowl- edge by examining how international public relations courses are being taught at academ- ic institutions in the U.S. Using the recommendations from CPRE and other scholars as a benchmark, this study analyzes the public relations curricula and course syllabi from U.S.-based universities that have a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter to identify and describe the various approaches and methods being used to prepare future practitioners for their role in the global workplace. This study contributes to our understanding of whether or not public relations education is responding to the growing demands and challenges of globalization. The study also identifies future directions and provides recommendations contributing to the ongoing development of scholarly and prac- tical knowledge in teaching international public relations. LITERATURE REVIEW Public Relations in the Global Context Culbertson (1996) defined international public relations as the practice of pub- lic relations internationally and in a cross-cultural context by governments, multinational corporations, and international non-government organizations, among other international players. Similarly, Curtin and Gaither (2007) defined it as the practice of public relations
  17. 17. Jain 16 across national boundaries and cultures. While writing for the Institute for Public Relations’ Essential Knowledge Project, Molleda (2009) defined global public relations as “strategic communications and actions carried out by private, government, or nonprofit organizations to build and maintain re- lationships with publics in socioeconomic and political environments outside their home location” (para. 10). This implies that international public relations is practiced by orga- nizations that intend to communicate and cultivate relationships with publics outside their country of origin (Wakefield, 2008). Along these lines, Molleda (2009) argued that global public relations is simultaneous strategic communication and action initiated by organiza- tions in relation to home, host, and transnational publics. Over the past few years, the practice of international public relations has experi- enced significant growth. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the global public relations industry is a multibillion-dollar enterprise employing over 60,000 people (“Industry facts & figures,” 2012). The field has also gradually developed its knowledge base with the contribution of scholars from various parts of the world. These scholars examine the practice in various contexts, describe the challenges and opportuni- ties, and identify avenues for future research. In the last few years alone, several scholarly books dealing with international and intercultural public relations have been published (e.g., Curtin & Gaither, 2007; Freitag & Stokes, 2009; Parkinson & Ekachai, 2006; Sri- ramesh & Verčič, 2009, 2012). Given this momentum in international public relations practice and research, and as well as the growing global recognition of our discipline, it is critical to evaluate the various ways in which university education is preparing students for the challenges of communicating across countries and cultures. These sentiments have also been echoed by leading scholars (Sriramesh & Verčič, 2001; Tench & Deflagbe, 2008; Toth & Aldoory, 2010) and professional organizations (Commission, 2006) in our field, and they emphasize how public relations curriculum should integrate courses that raise students’ international/ global and cross-cultural intelligence. Public Relations Education and the U.S. Bias Education and training are key pillars of a discipline and are crucial in defining and establishing it as a profession (Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 2005; Ehling, 1992; Grunig & Hunt, 1984; Tench & Deflagbe, 2008). Undeniably, any established profession is rec- ognized by a dynamic body of knowledge that is transmitted to the professionals through education. In public relations, education is considered a, “primary means for providing the necessary knowledge and skills needed to fulfill the tasks and responsibilities of any public relations activity,” (Ehling, 1992, p.439), which could also include communicating to publics outside of one’s home country. Public relations pedagogy is often criticized for its U.S. bias and exclusion of experiences and perspectives from other countries (L’Etang & Pieczka, 2006; Sriramesh, 2002). Scholars believe that this is primarily because public relations education started in the U.S. long before such courses were introduced in other countries, which parallels the late development of the profession in other parts of the world (Tench & Deflagbe, 2008). The vibrant body of knowledge in public relations has remained dominated by U.S.-centric
  18. 18. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 17 studies, particularly from a theory development perspective. Between 2006 and 2011, only about 200 articles with an international/global focus were published in top tier journals in the field, of which, only 62 contributed to theory development (Jain, De Moya, & Molleda, 2014). Other scholars have also pointed out this inadequacy in public relations schol- arship (Sriramesh & Verčič, 2001). While there has been a significant influx of articles recently contributing international perspectives, these articles have mostly evaluated pub- lic relations practice using the models and theories developed in the U.S. Therefore, they have not truly enhanced our understanding of how country and culture-specific influences permeate and define the practice of public relations. For instance, in their examination of articles regarding public relations research, Jain, De Moya, and Molleda (2014) found over half primarily used U.S. literature, while only about 20% of the studies included literature primarily from other countries. This American bias in our field’s scholarship implies that educators have limited resources or at least, limited materials for teaching the subject. Such impediments can influ- ence the ability of educators to adequately prepare students for multicultural assignments and performance in global workplaces (Sriramesh, 2002). Even when public relations in other countries, to some extent, was modeled after the U.S. to some extent, each country has institutionalized the practice in its own manner reflecting its unique context, needs, and stakeholders’ expectations. For example, in Latin America, public relations practitioners are expected to perform the role of agents of social change and development (Molleda & Moreno, 2008), whereas in Europe, the concept of the “public sphere” is emphasized in the way public relations is conceived (L’Etang, 2004 p. 6). Therefore, two pertinent and timely questions are whether or not such diverse perspectives regarding our profession are transmitted to students, and how educators and academic institutions integrate international public relations knowledge in their curriculum and/or course syllabi. Previous Research on State of International Public Relations Education While there hasn’t been any attempt to comprehensively evaluate the current sta- tus of international public relations education in the U.S., a few studies have examined public relations education in general, ranging from a country-specific assessment (Azaro- va, 2003; Ferrari, 2009; Ferreira & Verwey, 2004; Gorpe, 2009; L’Etang, 1999; Pirozek & Heskova, 2003; Sriramesh, 2002; Zhang, 2009; Zlateva, 2003) or regional evaluation (Cot- ton & Tench, 2009) to a more global inspection (Tench & Deflagbe, 2008; Toth & Aldoory, 2010). For the purpose of this investigation, four of these studies provide valuable insights regarding the prevalent pedagogical approaches in public relations that could serve as a good reference point. In 2008, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Manage- ment initiated a multi-year research study of public relations curricula around the world and released two reports based on an extensive literature review, website analysis, and in-depth interviews. The first study by Tench and Deflagbe (2008) provided an extensive background on public relations education and its relationship to professionalism, while de- tailing the development of the practice in different countries. It also discussed the different
  19. 19. Jain 18 schools of thought in public relations education and the main approaches to public relations theory (e.g., systems, rhetoric, relationship, critical, political economy). The study found that there is no consensus in the way public relations itself is de- fined, which could negatively impact our profession and, “allow other fields to appropriate PR concepts and functions” (Tench & Deflagbe, 2008, p. 23). These differences not only stem from the different origins and historical development of public relations in other parts of the world, but also reflect the influence of cultural understanding on our practice. As a result, there is a tension in our field between those who desire uniformity in curriculum and teaching practices and those who advocate against it on the grounds of marginalizing diversity and variety. The study found that while, in general, the discipline advocates for shared concepts, “uniformity is not necessary for the creation of global PR and may limit the conceptualization of the field” (Tench & Deflagbe, 2008, p. 24). The study also cau- tioned against the pervasive dominance of U.S. public relations education on other coun- tries’ understanding of the profession. The second study by Toth and Aldoory (2008) evaluated 218 institutional web- sites in 39 countries, followed by in-depth interviews with public relations educators in 20 of these countries. It ; it also reported a moderate American and European bias in the educational standards of other countries. The findings showed that educators regard public relations as a strategic management function responsible for relationship cultivation, and consider it important for undergraduate programs in preparing future practitioners for the challenges of the workplace. The study also found that while curricula follow the five- course standard prescribed by CPRE rather closely (Commission, 2006), cultural nuances are also incorporated within programs to increase students’ cultural awareness and sensi- tivity. A 2009 study profiled both undergraduate and graduate public relations programs offered mainly in Europe (Cotton & Tench, 2009). The study conducted an online survey of the members of The European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and other public relations educators. The survey gathered 80 responses on both external (what, where, for how long, for whom, etc.) and internal aspects (place in the institution’s structure, definition of PR, place and weight of PR in the BA-program, elaboration of curriculum, books and sources, contact with practice, balance theory/prac- tice, etc.) with the aim of presenting the various approaches to public relations education and program placement (whether or not to use “public relations” as the label; theoretical or practice-orientated; embedded in communication, journalism, marketing, management, or others; definition of public relations, etc.). The study provided educators with an op- portunity to be involved in a constructive conversation around curricula and pedagogical experiences, share best practices, share literature, and discuss the impact of new media technologies in and outside the classroom. The study found that a majority of educators relied on textbooks and syllabi as study materials rather than articles, case studies, e-tools, team projects, and practical ex- perience. Respondents suggested that they would like to incorporate a balance of theory and practice in public relations education and should offer classes that increase students’ knowledge of international affairs, and national and international organizations (Cotton & Tench, 2009)
  20. 20. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 19 Another study pertinent to this research was conducted by Stacks, Botan, and Turk (1999) who collected responses from 258 educators and practitioners regarding their general impressions about the status of public relations education, desired educational out- comes, assessment of students’ learning, elements of public relations curricula, and teach- ing practices. For both educators and practitioners participating in the study, knowledge of cultural background and other languages were desired skills to excel in public relations. In addition, international public relations was ranked one of the specializations that should be integrated into public relations curriculum. Finally, Hatzios and Lariscy (2008) conducted in-depth interviews with 21 partic- ipants – nine practitioners and 12 educators - to understand their views on the importance of international public relations courses, how these courses are being taught, and the chal- lenges and opportunities in this area of public relations education. The study found that while the respondents strongly agreed with the importance of international public relations curriculum, such classes are not as prevalent in most U.S. public relations programs. The other studies in this area have mostly profiled public relations education from a country-specific focus and, while valuable, do not offer much insight into how American college education is preparing future public relations practitioners to take on the global challenges and opportunities that our field faces today. Overall, these studies points out the growing need to include international/multicultural focus in public relations curricula. Recommendations on International Public Relations Education Recommendations regarding public relations education focused on international and multicultural issues have emerged from both scholarly and professional sources (e.g., Botan, 1992; Commission, 2006; Cotton & Tench, 2009; Kruckeberg, 1998; Taylor, 2001; Tench & Deflagbe, 2008; Toth & Aldoory, 2010; Sriramesh, 2002; Sriramesh & Verčič, 2001) Making a case for building a multicultural curriculum, Sriramesh (2002) advo- cated that more international content should be introduced in public relations programs by making international public relations a required class at the undergraduate and graduate level, rather than offering this important course as an elective. Sriramesh also suggested that students could benefit even more if such a course is co-taught by instructors from dif- ferent countries coming together as collaborators who could rely on virtual technology as a medium of instruction. Tench and Deflagbe (2008) also provided similar guidelines for developing a global public relations curriculum with emphasis on diverse perspectives. Their study ar- gued that despite its country-specific variations and differences, there is a possibility of creating a global curriculum. However, such a curriculum should reflect an appreciation for multiculturalism, diversity versus uniformity of concepts and program elements, and should be developed in close collaboration with industry practitioners. More specifically, the authors provided three concrete recommendations: (1) Educators were urged to inte- grate cultural awareness into curricula; (2) member associations were encouraged to debate the tensions between unity and diversity of curricula; (3) curricula should be designed to reflect the range of theoretical approaches to public relations (p. 23-24). Other scholars have also provided feedback, such as building a “global teach-
  21. 21. Jain 20 ing tool kit…that simultaneously offers some global perspectives and understandings of today’s public relations, but also allows for local, cultural distinctions for teaching in the discipline” (Toth & Aldoory, 2010, p. 18). The authors recommended that educators should not rely too heavily on U.S.-derived case studies and examples, in order to impart global knowledge. For the purpose of operationalizing the factors of inquiry for this study, three specific recommendations are relevant that are essentially a synthesis of the other sugges- tions described earlier in this section. First, The Professional Bond, issued by CPRE in 2006, prescribed including global implications as one of the foundational pillars for public relations curriculum development. Further, the report discussed seven levels of analysis to evaluate public relations education: cultural values and beliefs; laws and public poli- cies; external groups, organizations and associations; institutional factors in the academic setting; international exchange programs; inter-personal factors within an institution; and intra-personal factors among students and educators (p. 4). Sriramesh and Verčič (2001) suggested a second set of factors. Despite the au- thors’ recommendations being in the context of research and scholarly activities, they have value for public relations education as they provide the framework to study public relations in each country. These three environmental variables include infrastructure (economic, po- litical, legal, and activism), culture (determinants of culture such as technology, social structure, ideology, and personality; dimensions of culture such as power-distance, collec- tivism, masculinity/femininity, uncertainty avoidance, and Confucian dynamism; corpo- rate culture), and media (control, outreach, and access). Along similar lines, Taylor (2001) recommended five competencies that an inter- national public relations course should include: cultural influences in interpersonal and organizational communication, role of societal factors, ethics in international contexts, pro- fessional development of international practitioners, and geography and world events (p. 75). To evaluate progress along these five skills, she proposed a range of evaluation tools including quizzes to test knowledge of current events and geography, essay tests to monitor students’ understanding of cultural, societal, and ethical considerations, and application papers that challenge students with real-world scenarios involving international commu- nication planning and execution. Taylor also proposed that in addition to a stand-alone international public relations course, instructors and institutions should consider interna- tionalizing their curriculum by infusing global perspectives in their core classes. Admittedly, there could be many more dimensions and factors that should be included in a curriculum that is truly multicultural and international in its focus. However, these recommendations provide an adequate guide to initiate an examination of the current status of international public relations education in the U.S. with hopes to discover more insights to add to this line of inquiry. The research questions that drive this exploration are: RQ 1: How do U.S. academic institutions incorporate international public relations courses in the curriculum? RQ 2: To what extent do international public relations courses reflect the recommenda- tions of scholars and practitioners with regard to integrating global implications in public relations education?
  22. 22. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 21 RQ 3: What pedagogical approaches, methods, and means are educators using to impart international public relations knowledge and skills? METHOD Data Collection Procedure The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, curriculum from 344 academic institutions that have a PRSSA chapter was accessed on their websites and an- alyzed. These schools were specifically selected because they have been recognized as demonstrating the highest standards in public relations education by following the PRSSA guidelines based on the CPRE curricula recommendations (Waymer, 2014). In this manner, the study was able to capture insights from not only the colleges that are part of journalism or mass communication schools or departments but also those listed under communication, English, or business, making it a more inclusive sample. During the first phase, course catalogs available on college or university websites were accessed and closely examined to identify any courses relevant to international public relations. Considering that institutions might not offer such courses on a regular basis or offer them under a different title, course descriptions from the online course catalogs were examined to assess their relevance to international public relations. All relevant course titles and descriptions were recorded for further examination. Whenever offered, the cor- responding contact information was also noted for the second phase of the study. This exercise was employed to identify the extent to which international public relations courses are embedded in undergraduate and graduate curriculum and the format in which they are integrated (required versus elective). After eliminating schools that did not seem to offer any relevant international public relations courses, the second phase comprised of reaching out to 278 colleges or departments with a request to share sample syllabi for international public relations cours- es, if they offered such a class at either undergraduate or graduate levels. The first email was sent on February 24, 2015, followed by a reminder request sent one week later on March 3, 2015. To increase the response rate and to encourage institutional participation, the researchers also called the contact phone number reported on the college or departmen- tal websites. During this phase, responses from 60 schools were received yielding a 22% response rate. Coding Process and Data Analysis The syllabi collected during the second phase were examined using the frame- works suggested under the global implications section of The Professional Bond (Commis- sion, 2006) and the environmental variables described by Sriramesh and Verčič (2001), as well as the competencies put forth by Taylor (2001). All the content in the course syllabi, including course objectives, teaching approach, course structure, textbooks and other read- ing materials, assessment of student outcomes and learning, and other course deliverables, were assessed. The study used a standard codebook consisting of three major sections with each section divided into more comprehensive sub-categories. The first section coded the title of the course, the name and contact information of the instructor, and the textbooks used
  23. 23. Jain 22 for instruction. In the second section, topics covered in the course were recorded. For this purpose, both emergent and a priori coding schemes were used. Using the recommenda- tion offered by Sriramesh and Verčič (2001), Taylor (2001), and the global implications suggested in The Professional Bond (2006), six core topics were identified: integration of cultural awareness through theoretical perspectives and case studies (cultural influences and structural comparisons); theories and cases demonstrating public relations practice in other parts of the world (country or region-specific public relations); international/glob- al public relations definition and challenges; international/global public relations theory, models, and research; explanation of environmental and contextual variables that influence the practice of public relations (international/global public relations contexts such as so- cial, cultural, economic, political, regulatory, etc.); ethical and legal issues in international/ global public relations; and the evolution of public relations in the U.S. and in other coun- tries or regions. Any topics that emerged in the syllabi and were not in the original list were then added as a new category. When a core topic (e.g., culture and structural comparisons) was found on a syllabus, the coders also recorded the subtopics (e.g., Hofstede’s cultural dimensions) covered under that category. Finally, in the third section, all the readings (required and supplementary) were examined to identify their focus and context classified into U.S.- specific, national (other than the U.S.), regional (e.g., Europe, Asia, or Latin America), or global. For national and regional categories, specific country or region was also recorded. The articles that described global issues in public relations and/or public relations of supranational orga- nizations (e.g., United Nations or World Health Organization) and issues related to them were classified under the global public relations category. Finally, the coders also recorded whether or not a reading was a case study. Each of these categories was kept mutually ex- clusive with a nominal measurement (absent or present). To examine the goals, objectives, and/learning outcomes of each course, Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) was adopted. According to Bloom’s hierarchical classification, there are six layers of teaching goals and objectives with each layer leading students to a higher level of learning and thinking. The lowest levels are knowledge/remembering, comprehension/ understanding, and application, while the higher levels are analysis, synthesis, and eval- uation/creation. Essentially, students who have mastered the highest level can not only remember the information but can also understand, apply, analyze, and evaluate it, and finally, can use the knowledge to create new patterns or structures. Ideally, courses should incorporate each of the six levels to ensure students gain a full spectrum of understanding of the topics (Mak & Hutton, 2014). A graduate student was trained to assist the researcher during the coding process. The unit of analysis was the entire syllabus. A pretest was conducted with a subsample of data to define categories and diffuse disagreements and concerns. As recommended by scholars (e.g., Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989; Lacy & Riffe, 1996), a 20% sample (n = 5) was analyzed to assess intercoder reliability. The intercoder reliability using Holsti was .95 and Cohen’s Kappa was .89. These values represented good agreement between coders beyond chance (Fleiss, 1981). Data was entered into and analyzed with IBM® SPSS® Statistics 19. Data analysis comprised of descriptive statistics including frequencies and percentages. With this framework in mind, both the coders noted common themes that were
  24. 24. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 23 further synthesized, expanded or collapsed during multiple rounds of discussions and de- briefings. Together with the researchers’ reflections and narratives, these themes are dis- cussed below, uncovering valuable insights as to whether or not public relations education in the U.S. is addressing the challenges of globalization. FINDINGS Below is a summary of the key findings and themes that emerged during our analysis of 344 academic curricula and 26 international public relations course syllabi. For each finding, further evidence and explanation is provided using specific examples and, in some cases, tables. International Public Relations Courses are Still Missing from Curricula During the first phase of the study, it became apparent that international public relations courses are still absent from public relations curricula. While communication colleges and departments seem to understand the value of multiculturalism and diversity, as evident by the wide variety of classes being offered on these topics on a regular basis, relevant international public relations classes are still taught on an ad-hoc basis. In fact, only 74 (21%) course catalogs showed an international or global public relations class un- der that title. This finding was also confirmed during the second phase in which 39 of the 60 colleges (65%) reported that they do not offer any international public relations or related courses. The analysis of the course catalogs showed that several communication classes are being offered with an aim to increase students’ cultural awareness. These topics in- clude: inter/multicultural communication, communication in the global age, issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and diversity in communication, global/international media, communica- tion in global/international/multicultural workplaces, communication in a specific country or region, and critical approaches to intercultural/international communication. These cat- egories, with a few sample courses gathered from the catalogs, are shown in Table 1. Table 1. Focus areas and example courses related to international and/or multicultural com- munication found on academic catalogs I. Inter/multicultural communication Intercultural communication Intercultural and international communication Communication across contexts and cultures Communication among cultures II. Communication in the global age Communication in global contexts Global marketing communication Global political communication Global strategic communication Global communication research methods III. Issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and diversity in communication Communicating race and ethnicity Gender, culture and communication Ethnic and intercultural communication
  25. 25. Jain 24 Diversity in mass communication Diversity & communication: Organizational media contexts IV. Global/international media Global media systems Communication media in a changing world Comparative media: United States and the United Kingdom Cultural aspects of the mass media East Asian media and popular culture V. Communication in global/international/multicultural workplace Communication in multinational organizations Communication skills in the global workplace Communication and global organizations Communication in international organizations Communication in multicultural organizations VI. Communication in a specific country or region Asian Culture and communication Communication and culture in Asia Communication and social change in China Communication in Asia and Pacific Rim countries East Asian communication Communication in Japanese culture Strategic communication in the UK and France VII. Critical approaches to intercultural/international communication Critical approaches to global media and communication Critical and cultural approaches to media Critiquing mass media’s influence on cultural and economic issues Educators Possess International Experiences During the second phase, 24 educators from 15 academic institutions shared their course syllabi, with some sharing more than one from the different classes that they teach on this topic. For instance, one instructor teaches international public relations in the U.S. as well as a study abroad class in London. Similarly, two instructors shared their syllabus from undergraduate and graduate classes. Because these classes serve different purposes, all syllabi were included in the sample. One syllabus titled “International Communication and Negotiation” was found to be unrelated to international public relations and hence, was not included in the final sample. Therefore, the final sample included 26 course syllabi. Each of the 26 courses was offered as an elective. The academic and professional profiles of each educator were examined by re- viewing information on their faculty page, LinkedIn profiles, as well as curriculum vitae in instances where they were available. In terms of academic background, 21 instructors held a Ph.D., one held a bachelor’s degree, and one a master’s in communication or a related discipline.All of the educators received their highest degree in the U.S., except for one who received it from Scotland. There were 10 female educators and 13 male educators in the mix. Additionally, each instructor’s profile was examined to see whether or not they had any form of international experience (personal, academic and/or professional). Such under- standing can prove to be a great asset for educators teaching international public relations courses because it allows instructors to draw from these experiences in the classroom. All of the educators had some form of academic or professional experience internationally in
  26. 26. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 25 locations such as China, India, South Korea, UK, Europe, Sudan, Africa, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the Philippines. Several educators also conducted research in this area in the form of books and journal articles, contributing international perspectives to the public relations body of knowledge. Courses Cover a Wide Range of Topics In each syllabus, the researchers examined the course description, goals and ob- jectives, method of instruction, evaluation metrics, readings, and other content to identify the strategies and approaches that these educators used within and outside the classroom. “International Public Relations” was the most commonly used course title followed by “Global Public Relations,” and “International and Intercultural Communication.” One course was titled “Communication in Global Contexts.” Table 2 shows a list of topics that were covered in these courses. Each course ad- dressed a variety of areas. The most popular areas included: being cultural influences and structural comparisons; country or region-specific public relations practice; definition of international/global public relations; international/global public relations theories, models, and research; and environmental/contextual variables that influence public relations prac- tice in other countries (e.g., social, political, economic, regulatory, and media). Table 2. Topics covered in international public relations courses Course topics n Cultural influences and structural comparisons.............................................................20 Country or region-specific PR.......................................................................................19 International/global PR definition and challenges.........................................................13 International/global PR theory, models, and research...................................................11 International/global PR contexts (social, cultural, economical, political, regulatory)...11 Ethical and legal issues in international/global PR..........................................................8 The evolution of PR in the U.S., evolution of the profession, state of PR profession.....8 Authenticity and “glocal” campaigns...............................................................................6 Global corporate social responsibility and sustainability................................................6 Key players in international/global PR (government, agencies, non-profits, MNCs).....6 Public diplomacy, corporate foreign policy.....................................................................6 Country reputation, images of nations, and/or nation building.......................................4 Developing international competence..............................................................................4 International/global PR roles and functions.....................................................................4 Transnational crisis and/or cross national conflict shift...................................................4 Contemporary issues in international/global PR (globalization, economic development, religious tensions).............................................................................2 Global reputation.............................................................................................................2 Issues management..........................................................................................................2 Social media and international/global PR........................................................................2 The future of international/global PR.............................................................................. 2 The public sphere and/or cultural critical perspectives.................................................... 2 Others (theories of signs-languages, symbiotic interaction, structuration, convergence; non-verbal interaction- action, sound, and silence; coordination and control; ........... 11 job opportunities; role of technology; activism; and global audiences).
  27. 27. Jain 26 Under cultural factors, a wide range of issues were being taught including Hof- stede’s cultural dimensions, differences between high and low context cultures, customs, traditions, and norms, circuit of culture model, and other cultural dimensions and their im- pact on international public relations. Structural comparisons are mostly focused on media, legal, ethical, and other contextual environments in which international public relations is practiced. Educators also emphasize introducing students to the practice of public relations outside of the U.S. This topic included the evolution of public relations in a specific coun- try or region, current trends and best practices, and any specific variations or nuances that uniquely define the profession in that context. Most of the discussion on theories, research, and models of public relations tend- ed to be U.S. focused. This topic included how well current public relations concepts and theories, such as relationship management or excellence theory/symmetrical communica- tion, apply to other national contexts. Research originating from a particular country or region was less commonly included in the syllabi examined in this study. Finally, educators also commonly included at least one class session on societal factors such a legal/regulatory framework, media systems, economic development, level of activism, and political ideology, and their impact on public relations. Readings Reflect a Variety of International Perspectives While educators used an eclectic mix of supplementary readings, the most com- monly used textbooks were International Public Relations by Curtin and Gaither (2007), Global Public Relations by Freitag and Stokes (2009), and The Global Public Relations Handbook by Sriramesh and Verčič (2009). Five educators did not use any textbooks but rather prescribed supplementary weekly readings. In addition to the required textbook, 315 distinct readings (required and supple- mentary) were recorded across the 26 course syllabi. Each article was reviewed to deter- mine its context and focus. Only about 9% (n = 28) of these articles were U.S.- specific, while the others either described public relations in a country than the U.S. (n = 88; 28%), a specific region, such as Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or Latin America (n = 104; 33%), or discussed global issues, such as culture, technology, public diplomacy, or nation building (n = 95; 30%). Additionally, a small percentage of the readings were case studies evaluating organizational public relations efforts in an international context (n = 36; 11%). Within the regional readings, Europe (n = 30; 29%) was the most frequently dis- cussed region, followed by Africa (n = 20; 19%), Asia (n = 19,;18%), and the Middle East (n = 19; 18%). Overall, instructors had the least number of readings in the context of Latin America (n = 16,;15%). In terms of country-specific readings, Japan (n = 7; 8%) was the most prominently discussed country in international public relations courses followed by India (n = 6; 7%), the UK (n = 5; 6%), Mexico (n = 5; 6%), China (n = 5; 6%), Australia (n = 5; 6%), and Russia (n = 5; 6%). Educators Incorporate Different Outcomes and Tools Each educator focused on different learning goals and key objectives regarding what they wanted the course to achieve and students to learn about public relations in an international setting. Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) was used to examine and classify the var-
  28. 28. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 27 ious objectives and learning outcomes incorporated in international public relations syllabi examined in the study. Findings showed that instructors most commonly included the first two levels of thinking skills: knowledge and comprehension. International public relations courses are designed to introduce students to the fact that public relations in the globalized world is as heterogeneous and diverse as the world itself and that it is deeply influenced by the social, political, cultural, and other contextual factors that affect the practice as well as the prac- titioner. All of the syllabi (n = 26, 100%) contained some form of these objectives that are mostly related to the provision of information and knowledge during the course. Objectives under these levels frequently used keywords such as understand, recognize, and explain. An example of such an objective was: “Students will be able to understand how culture and power shape public relations practice.” The next levels – application, analysis, and synthesis - can be characterized by goals and objectives related to what students will be able to do as a result of the information that they would receive in the course. These goals fundamentally describe the application of the knowledge to acquire competencies, such as being able to analyze and contrast pub- lic relations in other countries and contexts, develop international public relations plans and strategies, describe the contextual influences that define public relations in other parts of the world, and evaluate international public relations programs. These three levels were not as often integrated in the courses as the first two levels. In fact, only 17 syllabi (65%) contained language reflecting these levels of learning. Finally, the level that was least commonly integrated in international public rela- tions syllabi was evaluation/creation, reflecting the most superior form of course learning by demonstrating international/global acumen in practice. An example would be develop- ing (and/or implementing) a campaign for an organization engaging in cross-cultural or international communication. Only five syllabi (19%) were found to address this level. Educators used a wide range of assessment tools to evaluate students’ learning and performance (Table 3). Case studies, exams, and country profiles were the most com- mon, with at least half of the syllabi using these tools. Other methods included quizzes, class presentations, reflection papers, and in-class activities. Table 3. Assessment tools used in international public relations courses n Assignments/assessments n Assignments/assessments 12 Case study 3 Cross-cultural interviews 10 Exams 2 Discussion comments 9 Country profiles 2 Geography quizzes 6 Class activities 2 Press kits 6 Quizzes 2 Website analysis 6 Reflection papers 9 Others (campaign proposal, 5 Discussion leaders white paper, field trips, cultural 4 Journals event, film review, tweets, 4 Theoretical paper or research article website analysis, class and blogs)
  29. 29. Jain 28 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION This study examined the various ways in which international public relations courses are being taught at academic institutions in the U.S. Using a curriculum audit of 344 academic institutions that have a PRSSA chapter followed by a content analysis of 26 course syllabi, the study identified common approaches, means, and methods that educa- tors use to develop global and cross-cultural understanding in students. The key findings of this study are: (1) international public relations courses are still missing from curricula, (2) educators offering such a course possess international experiences, (3) courses cover a wide range of topics demonstrating varying levels of adoption of professional and scholar- ly recommendations, (4) educators incorporate readings that reflect international perspec- tives, and (5) courses contain different levels of learning outcomes and assessment tools. Despite the growing recognition that public relations today is a global profession that demands cultural sensitivity and an awareness of the global community (Hatzios & Lariscy, 2008; Sriramesh & Verčič, 2001; Taylor, 2001; Tench & Deflagbe, 2008), only about 20% of the course catalogs carried an international/global public relations class un- der that title. Strikingly, during the second phase of the study, 65% of the colleges reported that they do not offer any international public relations or related courses. In instances where an international public relations course is offered, it is categorized as an elective. Admittedly, institutions offer a range of other classes that cover topics such a multicultural communication, global/international media, and communication in a specific country or re- gion, but these are not taught from a public relations perspective. A class grounded in pub- lic relations can provide future practitioners with a broader framework of how cross-cultur- al and international contexts influence the practice by exposing them to relevant theories, models, and practical examples that better prepare them for future assignments and roles (Culbertson & Chen, 1996; Hatzios & Lariscy, 2008). With regard to content, educators seem to take an approach that is aligned with the recommendations made under The Professional Bond (Commission, 2006) as well as those put forth by Sriramesh and Verčič (2001) and Taylor (2001), oriented primarily with introducing students to the cultural, societal, and other contextual aspects of the practice. However, each syllabus addresses a different subset of the topics recommended under the guidelines. A discussion on culture and cultural influences was one of the most commonly integrated topics in the course syllabi. Other topics included public relations practice in other parts of the world, explanation of environmental and contextual variables (e.g., media infrastructure and control, regulatory environment, cultural dimensions) that influence the practice of public relations, international public relations definition and challenges, and description of U.S.-based public relations theories and models as they apply to other coun- tries and regions. Further, there is great variation in the way these topics are being taught. For in- stance, while culture is a topic covered in almost all of the syllabi examined in the study, each educator approaches the topic in a different manner. From a discussion of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, low versus high context cultures, to the circuit of culture model, there is a wide range of indictors and dimensions that are covered under this topic. Similarly, educators have established a variety of goals and learning outcomes in
  30. 30. Vol. 3 (1), 2017 Journal of Public Relations Education 29 these courses. Most commonly the learning outcomes relate to the transmission of knowl- edge centered on international complexities of the profession. Goals and objectives relat- ed to the application of the knowledge acquired through the course were less commonly integrated in the syllabi. These include demonstrating international acumen by applying classroom knowledge to real-world situations, problems, and campaigns in international environments. As a result, educators also seem to use a wide range of assessment tools to evaluate success against these learning outcomes including case studies, exams, country profiles, papers, class activities, and presentations. A majority of the educators use one or more required textbooks with International Public Relations by Curtin and Gaither (2007), Global Public Relations by Freitag and Stokes (2009), and The Global Public Relations Handbook by Sriramesh and Vercic (2009) being the most commonly prescribed. Five educators did not use any textbooks but rather prescribed supplementary weekly readings. It is worth noting even the most recent editions of these commonly used textbooks were published in 2009. This is a concern considering the fast pace at which public relations practice is evolving in response to emerging trends in communication, technology, and other societal developments. In order to provide future practitioners with the most cutting-edge skills, tools, and knowledge, international/global public relations textbooks should be updated. This also presents an opportunity for aca- demics and practitioners to collaborate on book projects in the future, or publishing case studies that could supplement these texts. All of the educators in the study also commonly supplemented these textbooks with a variety of readings that reflect international perspectives. Only a small percentage of the readings were found to be focused on the U.S., while a majority discussed public rela- tions practice in a country or region, or reviewed global issues that impact the profession. In the content analyzed syllabi, about a third of the readings focused on Europe, with about a fifth discussing public relations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. However, less than 10% of the readings were in the context of Latin America. This could be a result of the fact that Latin America is also one of the least researched areas in public relations scholarship, as concluded by Jain, De Moya, and Molleda (2014) in their examination of research arti- cles published in top 12 public relations academic journals from 2006 to 2011. Along similar lines, only a few nations were prominent in the syllabi, including India, the U.K., Mexico, China, Australia, and Russia. While it can be argued that these are probably the countries where public relations has advanced the most (and hence, are most relevant for future practitioners in terms of opportunities), there is definitely a need to introduce other developing economies into international public relations courses. Educa- tors who do not cite these areas are missing out on important components of international public relations practices, including how public relations is perceived and the role practi- tioners are expected to perform in these countries. A holistic approach should be adopted that provides equal attention to these non-traditional hubs. While inclusion of other countries outside of the U.S. in course syllabi is an en- couraging sign considering public relations pedagogy has often been criticized for its U.S. bias and exclusion of experiences and perspectives from other countries (Sriramesh, 2002; Toth & Aldoory, 2010), an in-depth analysis of the topics and readings showed that the