Advancing the Discipline Grantees

The National Communication Association supports projects and events that advance the discipline of communication. All funded activities align with the goals of NCA’s strategic plan and have widespread impact that reaches beyond a single department, campus, or NCA unit.

To apply for a grant click here.

Announcing NCA's Funds to Advance the Discipline Grant Recipients for 2014 

Sara Weintraub, Ruth Kay & Jean Ann Streiff 

Project Title:    Common Core State Standards in Speaking and Listening:  A Resource Guide

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, 4 territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity (a field activity of the Office of the Secretary of Defense).  Its purpose is to “ensure that all students are college and career read” by the “end of high school” (NGA & CCSSO, 2010, p. 3).  Standards for Speaking and Listening are part of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.  This project will gather and/or create resources for grades 6-12 teachers to help them implement the Standards for Speaking and Listening.  These resources will be made available to educators and to state departments of education.

Jennifer Stevens Aubry  

Project Title:    Translating Research into Outreach: Disseminating Communication Research on Media and Body Image to Adolescent Girls   

Research in both communication and psychology is increasingly clear that exposure to and pressure exerted by media increase body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Despite a critical mass of research on this topic, there have been few attempts to disseminate the knowledge from this work beyond those initiated by advertisers (e.g., the Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty campaign) and some curricula created for and sustained in educational settings (e.g., Healthy Bodies curriculum). Often, researchers in media effects uncover deleterious effects of mass media and suggest to others to create and maintain media literacy efforts to protect audiences, especially young audiences, from negative effects. I propose that we know enough now about the impact of thin-ideal and sexualizing media on young people’s body image that we need more efforts to disseminate this knowledge in a way that is engaging and accessible to young people. As a step in this direction, in the present project, I propose creating short, informational videos that condense the knowledge gained from multiple studies and make them available to late-adolescent girls and youth organizations that serve late-adolescent girls via social media platforms. A novel characteristic of this outreach effort is that the focus of the videos will be on highlighting key research studies and drawing research-based conclusions and practical tips from them.   

Katherine Thweatt & Mary Toale  

Project Title:    Communication Attributes: Aligning Employer Desires and Institutional Goals  

The purpose of this project is to begin to understand whether there is a gap in college and university goals for graduates and communication attributes desired by employers.  The prevalence of colleges and universities including communication related goals within their mission statements and/or overall goals for graduates will be assessed.  In addition, awareness of the importance of communication to potential employers will be assessed among administrators and professors in all areas of study.  Content analysis will determine the prevalence and nature of communication related goals within college and university objectives for graduates.  A questionnaire will be developed to assess awareness of the importance of communication to employers among administrators and professors.  Open-ended questionnaires will be administered to determine how colleges and universities assess the communication skills of graduates when communication related goals are included in objectives.  Results will be used to make recommendations to communication scholars and NCA for the dissemination of knowledge about communication and communication pedagogy.  

Joe Valenzano, Sam Wallace, Donald Yoder, Cheri Simonds & Jonathan Hess 

Project Title:    Basic Course Director’s Summer Institute 

The Basic Course Director Summer Institute aims to address the need for developing quality administration of the basic course in communication departments around the country. The Basic Course Director Summer Institute is designed to appeal to current and future Basic Course Directors. It will help fill the “training gap” by educating those faculty responsible for this important course in issues such as course design; assessment; supervising adjuncts; training instructors; campus and community advocacy; and other issues often encountered when directing the basic course. In many ways this is a basic course version of the Summer Chair’s Institute already sponsored by NCA, and aims to develop strength at the discipline’s front lines through training in skills necessary to create and maintain a strong basic course. 


For details and registration information click here to visit the NCA sponsored conferences and events page.

Walid Afifi & Isaac West  

Project Title:    Samuel L. Becker Memorial Conference:  Interesting Questions in Health, Social Change and Technology    

On February 27th to March 1st, 2014, the Communication Studies Department at the University of Iowa is hosting an intradisciplinary communication studies conference to honor Sam Becker. Our request asks NCA to co-sponsor this event for three reasons: (1) NCA members will benefit from the conference at the time and into the future with the digital archiving of the conference; (2) the presentations will generate intradisciplinary conversations around timely topics of central concern for communication studies scholarship; and, (3) the community outreach portions of the conference will translate communication studies research for use by public audiences. 



Announcing Results from the 2013 Funds to Advance the Discipline Grant Competition  

Funded Projects and Events

Gordon Carlson, Fort Hayes State University 

Project Title:  Conceptual Logistics in Communication Research Workshop

Carlson’s project will develop an online workshop to explain the Concept Tool Kit and other research collaboration tools and their uses.  The workshop will cover items including but not limited to demonstrating conceptual logistics and conceptual blending techniques, acquainting students and faculty with the Concept Toolkit tools, demonstrating pedagogical implications for students and faculty in and out of the classroom, soliciting feedback, and introducing the Journal of Concepts in Communication and its approach to online, open access models of scholarly publication.

Youtube videos resulting from the project are available here and here.

Stephen P. Depoe and the International Environmental Communication Association 

Event Title:  The 11th Biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE) 

The 11th Biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE), organized under the auspices of the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA), will take place on June 6-10, 2013 in Uppsala, Sweden. The COCE conference will be attended by over 125 scholars and practitioners from a dozen countries, including a significant contingent from the United States (  NCA will be recognized as the “sustainability sponsor” of the conference.

Cerise L. Glenn, University of North Carolina at Greensboro 

Project Title:  Group Mentoring Approaches to the Research and Publication Process:  Utilizing Online Research Groups for Graduate Students and Tenure Track Professors 

Glenn’s project will create online research mentoring groups to increase understanding of the research and publication process and promote active research agendas for NCA members.  The mentoring groups will combine aspects of career socialization and mentoring literature with the limited amount of research on writing groups.

Katherine Margolis and Susan Collins, SurroundHealth  

Project Title:  Bringing Clear and Relevant Health Communication into the Patient-centered Medical Home 

The objective of this 2-part online learning event is to provide specific, practical strategies to improve the clarity of written and verbal communication with patients.  The event will feature speakers with expertise in development and design of patient education materials that meet health literacy principles as well as in the use of the teach-back method within patient interactions.  The online learning event will include a variety of learning activities: didactic, video-based modeling, participant discussion, skills checklist, medical home audit of best practices, and links to resources for continued learning and support.

Click here to view archived webinars.


Steve Matusza, John Tedesco and Marlene Preston, Virginia Tech University 

Project Title:  Closing the Communication Across the Curriculum (CXC) and Curriculum in the Discipline (CID) Gap 

Matusza’s project proposal will replicate and expand (to 5 additional business schools beyond the present one under investigation) the present exhaustive pilot case study of a business school’s communication education plans, practices, resources, and constraints. 

Suzy Prentiss, The University of Tennessee 

Project Title:  Directing the Basic Course:  A Content Analysis of Basic Course Management to Create a Registry of Resources and Options 

Prentiss’s project will investigate the role of Basic Course Director across all types of institutions of higher education and will gather data to ascertain the roles and responsibilities of the Basic Course Director, what classes they supervise, what training is provided for instructors of the basic courses, what is the job title/rank of these positions and what resources they need to perform better.

Read about the findings from Prentiss's survey of Basic Course directors and instructors here.


Previous Projects (by funding year) 


  • Changing Face of Communication Studies:  Majority and Underrepresented Minority Millennial Graduate Students’ Reported Quality of Life and Meaningfulness of Work. Principal Investigator: Patrice Buzzanell and Yahana Shah.  View the report here 
  • Comic Strips and the Communication of Culture. Principal Investigator: Robert Lemieux.
  • Toward Development of Generalizable Standards for Senior Seminars and Capstones in the Communication Discipline. Principal Investigator: Leslie Reynard. 
  • Networked Humanities (Mapping shared histories of Rhetoric in Communication and English). Principal Investigator: Pat Gehrke and Byron Hawk. 
  • Offering the Public Speaking course online: A content analysis of course syllabi. Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Tolman. 


  • Grant/Fellowship Registry – This research project involved developing a database of grants received by communication faculty. Principal Investigator: Marshall Scott Poole.


  • Facing Down the Odds: Women Pioneers in Communication – This is a documentary project on women in the communication field. Principal Investigators: Jan Schuetz and Glenda Balas.
  • Advancing the Discipline through Communication Leadership – This research project involved interviewing women leaders in communication and administration. Principal Investigator: Amanda G. McKendree.
  • Voices of Democracy: The US Oratory Project – This is a website project involving a collection of great American speeches. Principal Investigator:  Shawn Perry-Giles.

Events (by event year) 

  • 2012 - Accessing Civility: Arizona Forum on Civil Communication - Sponsored by Arizona State University and held in Tempe, AZ.
  • 2012 - Ethnography of Communication:  Ways Forward - Sponsored by Creighton University adn held in Omaha, NE.
  • 2011 - Alta Argumentation Conference, Alta, Utah, co-sponsored by NCA and The American Forensics Association bi-annually and hosted by the Alta Steering Committee. 
  • 2010 - Developing Successful Grant Proposals in the Social Sciences Seminar – Sponsored by NCA’s Research Board and held in Chicago, IL.
  • 2010-2011 - Doctoral Honors Conference, rotating locations held in the summer of each year, hosted by the Doctoral Education Committee (July/August 2010 – Salt Lake City, UT, August 2011, Fargo, N. Dak.).
  • 2010 - Teaching Rhetorical Criticism/Critical Inquiry Conference – Hosted by the University of Puget Sound and held in Tacoma, WA.
  • 2009 - International Conference on Intercultural Dialogue – Sponsored by the International and Intercultural Communication Division & Maltepe University, Istanbul, and held in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • 2008 - Methods and Measures for Communication and Cognition Research –Sponsored by the University of Maryland and held in College Park, MD.
  • 2008-2011 - NCA Forum – Develops a series of events at NCA’s convention and elsewhere to highlight communication research.
  • 2007-2011 - NCA Faculty Institute, The “HOPE” Conference, Hosted by Randolph Macon College, Ashland, VA., 2007-2011 and held in July of each year.