Robert Louis Stevenson
once wrote that “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive....” The lifelong journey of James (“Jim”) C. McCroskey
was among the most hopeful of all journeys in his effort to better describe,
understand, predict, and change the ways people communicate. Jim started his
journey on a path set out by Aristotle, the rhetorical tradition. Jim’s
interest in ethos or source
credibility led him to thinking about goodwill, interpersonal closeness or
immediacy, interpersonal attraction, homophily and the perceived similarity of
others, power in the classroom, and apprehensiveness that people experience in
communicating with others. Jim moved from a world view based on humanistic
understanding to a world view of scientific reasoning and testing.
Even our best
cartographer armed with GPS and a steady hand would be unable to retrace the many
steps that Jim took on his 50-year journey, but many interesting twists, turns,
and discoveries were made along the way. Through his well-thought-out plan for
learning about communication and his boundless energy in working with others,
Jim charted new territory and challenged, sometimes changed, some old ways of
thinking that were, perhaps, not always leading us in the right direction.
Infographics, short for “information graphics,” are
a popular and effective means of communicating complex ideas and information in
a visual format. Not only are infographics everywhere, but our brains also crave them. That is because they are accessible, engaging, and clearly and quickly
understood. Today’s infographics are characterized by illustrations, such as icons,
graphs, figures, and text that vary in color, size, and font.
common observation on college campuses today is “students do not look up when
walking on campus.” It is often thought that such attachment to our communication
devices demonstrates a lack of connection to the “real world.” This perspective
exemplifies the need for faculty to connect with the “digital generation” and
do so on students’ terms.
Engaging students in a rich discussion in a
large-lecture classroom is a challenge for educators. The social nature of the
large-lecture classroom environment may cause students to have reservations
about speaking in class. They may feel intimated or experience greater anxiety
and nervousness. Promoting an environment in which students feel comfortable
asking questions and being part of the discussion is important.