The Special Project for Communication MA students involves a communication intervention
addressing a specific problem for within the University of Memphis, a community organization,
a healthcare organization, or some other entity where the student can contribute to
filling a communication gap. After conducting research about the problem and a proposed
solution, students collaborate with the organization to create a communication intervention
and then write a lengthy paper explaining the rationale of the project, a review of
the literature about the theoretical and methodological background of the project,
and a description of the process and expected implementation of the project.
Recent projects include:
Rachel Denzin, MA
"Digital Literacy Skills of Undergraduate Students: A Problem & Solution"
This project compared the perceptions of University of Memphis faculty and first year
students with regard to a) digital literacy skills important to college success and
b) students' level of competency in these skills. Survey results identified a mismatch
between faculty and student ratings of student competency in the most important skills
(as ranked by faculty). Three online training modules were created to address this
skills gap, with specific attention paid to motivating students to see themselves
Ashley Veneman, MA
"Visually Minded: The McDaniel Family Rhetoric"
This project presented the story of a Jackson, TN family and their daily life as they
cope with having two out of their three children living with autism. Combining still
photography, audio interviews, and textual narrative, this project was realized as
a web-based, multimedia documentary, grounded in standpoint theory, narrative paradigm,
and agenda-setting theory.
Shannon Little, MA
"Redeveloping Overton Square: A Community Awareness Campaign for Memphis Heritage"
This project focused on the non-profit organization Memphis Heritage's efforts to
create awareness in the Memphis community surrounding the redevelopment plans for
the Overton Square neighborhood. Combining an organizational audit with community
surveys the project identified Memphis Heritage's communication strengths and weaknesses
and then developed and implemented the community awareness campaign using a combination
of print and social media, including a revamped website, Twitter feed, Facebook presence,
and boilerplate press releases.
Cami Fields, MA
“Patient and Family-Centered Care at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital”
This project focused on the needs of chronically ill older adolescents and young adults
who need to transition from pediatric to adult care. Cami discovered that these patients
often experience lapses in communication, and thus a lack of continuity of care, when
they move from a children’s hospital, with pediatricians whom they have known all
their lives, to an adult hospital with new physicians. After extensive interviews
with patients, family members, and physicians, Cami developed a journal for the patients
to keep from childhood through adolescence. It includes information about their lives,
as well as medical information that new physicians need to know.
Tracy McLaughlin, MA
“Communication Issues Between Veterinarians and Their Clients"
This project centered on communication between pet owners and veterinarians about
cancer treatment for pets. Tracy conducted a series of interviews with pet owners
and veterinarians, including a veterinary oncologist. She also collected data from
a survey of pet owners about their communication experience about their pet’s cancer.
She then developed two communication packages, one for veterinarians and one for pet
owners. Each package contained a poster and booklet, with guidance in asking and answering
questions about feline or canine cancer.
Recent theses include:
Maggie Stanton, MA
Thesis: "African American Muslim Women Negotiating Racial and Religious Identities"
Maggie is currently pursuing her PhD in communication at the University of Memphis.
Charlotte Nau, MA
Thesis: "The impact of gender, verbal aggressiveness, and party identification-based
bias on speaker and message perception in political speeches."
This thesis comprises a series of three experiments testing how verbally aggressive
attacks from political speakers influences message recipients' opinions about the
speaker and message. Papers based on this thesis have been presented at the conventions
of the International Communication Association (2012) and the Southern States Communication
Association (2013), and an article is forthcoming in the Journal of Language & Social Psychology.