Applied Communications Departmental Goals

Goal #1: Analyzing Messages

Senior Portfolio

ACOM 4110: Professor M. Johnston     

As a communication scholar, I’ve gained a clear understanding about the importance of engaging in coursework in order to analyze messages effectively. I’ve embraced the goals and learning outcomes designed by the Applied Communication Department. Analyzing messages is the first goal for scholars under this curriculum and I can understand why.  The ability to think critically has always been intriguing. During conversations and other communicative interactions, we analyze messages more, often, than we tend to believe. All over the world, we engage in the analysis of messages with our families, friends, associates, acquaintances, as well as with strangers. Radio, social media, television and other virtual mediums bombard us with messages. We can analyze how we speak, what we hear, how we feel, what others feel. We also analyze the environments  which all these interactions take place. There is, simply, no way around not analyzing what we encounter; therefore, I am so grateful to be a part of such acritical and dynamic department.

 I can remember my initial experiences of analyzing messages. I attended UCA Fall 2005, immediately after high school. I had taken concurrent college courses at a community college in West Memphis during my last two years of high school; so, I was considered a sophomore in the mass communication department at UCA. My advisor, mistakenly, enrolled me in an elective junior level critical thinking course. He probably assumed I was a junior due to seeing my transfer hours and felt there was no way I could be a sophomore. We didn’t discover this mistake until I was about two months involved in the course. In the critical thinking course, we examined the literature of Socrates, the great Greek philosopher. I, enjoyed, immersing into the philosophies of Socrates because his teaching and way of life portrayed great insight into analyzing messages. Socrates also encouraged his followers to live life with integrity, a sense of self-mastery, as well as an awareness of different argumentative styles.

Even while in elementary and junior high school, I was thrilled at the opportunity to analyze andreflect on poems, short stories, novels, and plays of Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Shakespeare, to name a few. The ability to analyze messages has caused me to better understand how connotations change over time and that meanings of words must be critiqued to establish effectiveinterpersonal communication. My interest in this departmental goal of analyzing messages has been piqued since early education and throughout my journey as atraditional and non-traditional student.

I’m honored to be a part of a department which has expounded on my interests of analyzing literature, messages, and many other forms of communication. I consider myself a book worm because I read more that I talk on the phone, surf the internet, or listen to music. I analyze messages through leisure and required reading. When I analyze messages, I listen to the concerns people have. Initially, I analyze messages from people to determine highlights of the interaction, yet now; it’s more important more to considering analyzing in order to pose any questions I may have. I also determine whether or not I need to conduct more research on certain topics. The messages from my peers and professors are very significant for me because I am interested in their opinions and how to improve in every aspect of my learning experiences. I cannot avoid analyzing messages because this important aspect makes my academic and professional work easier to maintain. This departmental goal will always play an important role in my life because it illustrates my ability to think critically throughout all of my endeavors.

Goal #2: Developing Messages

Developing messages is the second departmental goal of the Applied Communication Department. Being able to develop messages is essential for communicators because receivers must decode and encode messages to gain understanding and to retain information. I’ve heard speakers mention how easy it can be for listeners to misinterpret messages. We have to recognize that what one audience member interprets, may not be what another interprets. To minimize instances of misinterpretations, I like using graphs, outlines, PowerPoint, Prezi, or spreadsheets to help emphasize the content of my messages and this tends to set me a part from others.

I understand why it’s,extremely, significant to relay information that is relevant and data that canbe retained. Initially, I had problems condensing information based on advice toinclude information that is need to know versus nice to know. I would makestorylines versus giving highlights of valuable information. For example, duringmy Persuasive Presentations course, I got very excited about the Speech of Policybecause I had gotten a clear idea about what I would include in my presentationfor problem, plan, and practicality. As time came close to present, I hadgotten much better at conducting research and including information that would support my claims or arguments.

Sometimes, we get excitedabout a topic and we want people to know about many aspects of a topic.Studying communication and conducting ethical research has helped me discovervarious ways to shave content while also rendering quality work. As I mention,I struggled with developing messages with direct content. Now, I’m moreconfident in my ability to develop messages for any work. Even in the businessdepartment, I no longer struggle with providing a brief synopsis. Often times,business instructors will require students to analyze data of approximately 50pages or more; then condense the information into a one page, single spacedexecutive summary or report. I’m grateful for the skills I’ve developed becauseI can determine how to develop messagesin any interactional or professional setting.

Goal #3: Anticipating Communication Barriers

The Applied Communication Department has a curriculum designed to develop student’s critical thinking skills to enable graduates tocritically apply theory to situations involving leadership, relationships, and change. This developmental skill is known as anticipating communication barriers. If anyone wants to gain insight about which departmental goal I’ve struggled with the most, they can find the answer by reading this report.            

Assessing potential breakdowns in communication hasn’t been as much of a problem for me as generating recommendations for myself and others. Normally, I can determine how, when, or where a communication barrier may occur. Although, I usually seek help to find solutions for any communication barriers that may take place. I’ve immersed myself into several theories during my studies under this department. Recently, I was transparent in my ability to access a situation that made my head spin.  I wasn’t able to make immediate improvements and recommendations for myself or others. I felt overwhelmed when messages weren’t delivered with clarity based on my understanding. I wasn’t pleased in the circumstance based on how I felt bombarded with to-do lists I had not anticipated. Interpersonal Deception Theory help me admit what is necessary for me to become more successful in overcoming unwanted barriers and this theory helps alleviate any discomfort or uncertainty caused by me or others. Consider reading the attached artifact of a theory paper this semester as an intern in the Communication Skill Center to better understand how I’ve made great strides to improve my ability to develop a growth mindset. By developing a growth mindset, I will become better at anticipating communication barriers. Becoming more successful at this departmental goal will help me employ more positive solutions. More solutions will result in my ability to maintain effective interpersonal relationships in any professional setting. 

Goal #4: Accomplishing Communicative Goals 

Communicative goals are ultimate ideas and intentionsreflected to others by delivering messages for desire results. I’ve been a diligent learner all my life. Everything I’ve learned has been through communication mediums and outlets. I began learning about communication goalsas a youth in the 4-H Club. I participated in public speaking platforms and my topics included agriculture, clothing, diabetes and nutrition. The goal of most of my speeches was to indicate how our lives are richer in wellness when we pay attention to what we put in our bodies and mind. My grandmother and 4-H leader suggested I speak about clothing to learn research about how to reflect my external image based on my inner being. We were, typically, judged by five to seven experts in the field based on our messages and their correlation with our goals. I had a great time during this time of my life because I was doing something challenging and meaningful which, ultimately, ended up making me very interested in the communication field.

 I’ve always reached outto people who spoke well and knew how to impact an audience. My goal for the future is to approach everyone with ethical messages that reflect greater goals. I must remain close to advisors and peers who have paved the way for meand helped me learn to lead and to become a professional change agent. I need more time around professionals who know how to collaborate and solve problems because I’m still examining my strengths and weaknesses. I want more problem-solving actions to occur in my life so that I can feel, completely, capable and ready for an executive and entrepreneurial role. My undergraduate studies have prepared me for a communicative role, but I need more time to improve all weaknesses during graduate school. Regardless, what career I’m rewarded; I’ll be flexible ability to adapt to the work culture to achieve communicative goals for me, the organization and larger society.

            When we learn necessary strategies to achieve goals based on positive communicationskills, we optimize our ability to become leaders within organization. We set ourselves a part from others through the Applied Communication Department because we know how to communicate as well as foster the co-creation of better social worlds. We have gained an understanding for the necessary strategies for positive outcomes. We know how to internalize our thinking into concepts and toimmerse into theoretical research to grasp controversial or heated topics. We embrace diversity and we don’t mind talking it out or deliberating to unfold the next best move. We analyze our messages and our motives and we care with grace for others. Communicative goals are sure to come into fruition when graduates of the Applied Communication Department enter the workforce.

Goal #5: Embracing Difference

When I first discovered our department, I knew I had stumbledupon a department that embraces difference. I noticed people of various ages and ethnicities interacting with one another. Conversations varied from favorite genres of music,literature interpretations, cultural insight, politics, astrology, hobbies, travel, religion, family dynamics and much more. Everyone channels their energy to embrace the differences manypeople tend to ignore. There’s a high level of respect amongst us because ourperspectives thrive through principles of diversity. We seek ways to adapt and learn from one another. We set goals to influence communication with anyone who has a voice. We follow Martin Buber’s advice; we treat people as a “thou” not an “it.”

 Our department is special and almost a hidden treasure at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Our location is off to the side as if we have to tread across the campus to reach the masses. Considering the way we evoke social change and connect so many diverse people together, we should be right in the middle of the campus to illustrate to the rest of the college what positive energy and positive interactions really look like among the people. We’re a clear representation of those who celebrate individuality and unique perspectives.

  I’m glad my curiosity and questions led me in the right direction. God orders my footsteps nicely and my graduating from this department is another indication of his touch on my life. I’d like to take this time to thank all of my professors for pushing me to think in a manner that influences positive communication. I’ve always found myself in diverse settings, but I’ve never been in an atmosphere that caused me to understand how important it is to actively listen. Now, I listen more and speak less when I meet others. I show them I’m interested in their life and their life goals. I’ve always thrived in diverse settings. My family consists of black, Vietnamese, Japanese, and German, as far as I know. We haven’t always been positive in our interactions and we didn’t even embrace our differences. Now, I’m instrumental in my family’s journey to embrace differences. I implement my mission and departmental goals into my personal and professional life because I understand what this department projected for me. 

Goal #6: Influencing Discourse

Do you remember being in grade school waiting for your teacher to tell you about a topic you would read about and explain to the class? Do you remember science projects or social studies research papers? Do you remember an oral communication class? I, certainly, remember all of the above.  Completing those assignments caused us to frame our thoughts and respond with results. We may not have understood the value of research then or what best practice were. Now, we recognize how communication strategies develop qualitative and quantitative research. So, we craft our messages to effectively present a topic. Haven’t we come a long way?

            We can approach society when our messages provoke change or thought. We use ourresearch to convince others that we understand literature of many contexts. I’m pleased with my ability to influence discourse because I’ve demonstrated my skills within the community. I feel that I can use communication to advocate for change and help others climb the academic ladder. I’ve benefited from the use of technology and workshops which taught me how to compose information for any subject matter. I’m not afraid to tackle any topic because of what I’ve gained through my studies. I’m grateful for this journey and am willing to influence discourse as a communication scholar.