Research Agenda

My teaching and course development dovetails with my research interests. The practical application of rhetorical strategies fascinates me. As I begin my academic career, I plan to pursue research in three primary areas:

  1. Strategic management communication
  2. Visuals in professional communication
  3. Pedagogical practices

Each of these research areas has significant potential for academic publications and conference presentations. I will discuss each of my research interests below.

Strategic Management Communication

I will build my research into strategic management communication on the work I did for my dissertation, Building Consensus: Workplace Myth-Building as a Unifying Rhetorical Strategy. This research focuses on the practical application of persuasive strategies in a workplace setting. In my dissertation, I conducted a two-year case study of Iowa State’s Printing Services department to document how the management team persuaded employees to accept and support an extensive technological change through creating and maintaining a rhetorical myth (an overarching unifying narrative for the department) that explained the necessity of the change and provided a vision for future successes. I will continue this line of research to explore (1) how the Printing Services department managed change and dissent through rhetorical leadership, (2) how rhetorical myth is practiced in other professional organizations, and (3) the implications and problems of employing myth as a rhetorical tool.

Visuals in Professional Communication

Communicating in the professional world can no longer rely on good writing alone. Photographs, illustrations, and a variety of data visualizations can enhance how professionals communicate. In this area of research, I will soon publish an article about rhetorical agency in online infographics with Professor Greg Wilson in Technical Communication Quarterly. (We talk about our collaboration in this video.) This article looks at the effect interactivity has on both the designer’s and user’s abilities to make decisions about the data, design, and message of a data display. I will continue this line of inquiry to examine the importance, impact, and practice of using visuals in professional communication, both in print and online media.

Pedagogical Practices

My research is closely aligned with my teaching in the classroom and online. I am interested in how the theories of professional communication and rhetoric can be applied to help students communicate better both in the classroom and in their future workplaces. At Iowa State under the direction of Professor David Russell, I conducted studies on student responsibility and engagement in traditional and online environments. I will continue to explore how professional communication instructors can better help students through innovative teaching practices, online instruction, workplace simulations, case studies, and the use of multimedia resources.