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Pedagogy at a Crossroads

A Student Perspective of the NCA Convention

Written by Peter Sands

Having attended the National Communication Association’s annual convention for my first year as a student, I was intrigued by the variety of topics covered in different calls. Being that I had primarily signed up for areas specific to what instructors at Augsburg were involved in, I spent the majority of my time sitting in for synchronous/asynchronous Zoom sessions focused on teaching.

Now, from the perspective of a student, you might not think that listening to a bunch of academics discussing their differences in pedagogical approaches to teaching during a pandemic would be all that interesting, but I was enamored with the amount of thought that goes into crafting our learning experience here at Augsburg and in other universities across the country. 

The theory that is poured into behavioral reinforcement of our learning practices as students is astonishing. From listening to Professor Groven distinguish our departments Senior Keystone course(s) from the likes of other institutions, to hearing Professor McNallie discuss different concerns/approaches of teaching public speaking courses online; there is definitely a divide amongst teachers as to what the most effective tactics are when mediating online learning in the midst of a pandemic and beyond. 

When making further distinctions concerning adaptations to online pedagogy, it was riveting to hear Professor Hanson discuss the idea of how these mediums, “perpetuate inequitable learning experiences,” especially amongst more privileged demographics. That is to say that many teachers might have to consider a students technological access and literacy when assessing their educational needs.

Seeing as how I have been adapting to remote learning practice since the beginning of the pandemic last March, I too was intrigued by the leadership and innovation necessary to persevere in the midst of these unforeseen circumstances. Moreover, as a student participating in these events, I thought about the importance of providing effective feedback when asked to review a course or teaching practices. We share just as much of a responsibility in shaping pedagogy as students, especially in the face of extreme technological change. So, be sure to fill out your Student Evaluations during the end of the semester!

I would highly recommend this event to future students as we continue to navigate an ever changing academic landscape. Having adapted to such immense change over the past year really gave meaning to the convention’s title, Communication at the Crossroads.

During one of the sessions, Professor Pat J. Gehrke of the University of South Carolina described the need to place more emphasis on teaching to these technological mediums as they continue to evolve. With no clear end in sight, these digital mediums will become an integral part of how many of us continue to communicate within our professional spheres. 



Jenna McNallie research study in Communication Quarterly Journal

Journal CoverJenna McNallie is first author on a research study to be published in Communication Quarterly Journal later this year. The article “Social media intensity and first-year college students’ academic self-efficacy in Flanders and the United States” discusses the connection between social media use and confidence among first-year college students. McNallie along with Elisabeth Timmermans (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Elizabeth Dorrance Hall (Michigan State University), Jan Van den Bulck (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), and Steven R. Wilson (University of South Florida) found that social media usage does play a role in first-year students’ self-efficacy (how much they believe in themselves), but a complex role. This role varies by social media platform as well as culture, as participants were from both the midwest and Belgium. To learn more about the research, email Jenna McNallie at

Jenna McNallie Studies Sibling Relationships

Photo of Jenna McNallie
Dr. Jenna McNallie


Jenna McNallie is our resident expert on family communication, as well as the intersection between relationships and the media.  Some of her work on maintaining sibling relationships–based on data collected from 300 siblings from across the U.S.–is highlighted on the following Psychology Today website: