Communications students,
faculty to participate in SURF


Students and faculty members from the School of Communications will be active participants in Elon University's annual Celebration of Student Achievements in Academics and the Arts on April 5.

Twenty-one journalism and/or communications majors had their work accepted for presentation as part of Elon's Student Undergraduate Research Forum after a rigorous review of abstract submissions. The standards for acceptance have reached a new high at the university. The students shared their findings in 11 different group or solo presentations.

Faculty members serving as moderators at the SURF sessions include Harlen Makemson, Brooke Barnett, David Copeland, Kelli Burns, Frances Ward-Johnson and Ray Johnson. Student work accepted for presentation was mentored by faculty members Janna Anderson, Barnett, Burns, Copeland, Jessica Gisclair, Ray Johnson, Makemson, Glenn Scott and Frances Ward-Johnson.

Following are abstracts of presentations by students majoring in journalism or communications:

PRESIDENTIAL WEB SITES: A COLLEGE PERSPECTIVE, Jacquelyn R Anderson, Erin G. Follett, William R. France and Matthew H. Sally (mentor Dr. Kelli Burns). The 2004 presidential election captured a rising interest among college students. Candidates' Web sites were a valuable campaign tool during the election process. One age group that put a lot of time and effort in the use of the Internet was college students. These students had at their disposal the information that both major party candidates' in the 2004 election provided via their Web sites. Both Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush used elaborate sites as a major publicity tactic for their campaign. This research project involved surveying a random sample of the Elon University student body regarding their opinions on Kerry's and Bush's Web sites. Of Elon's 4,796 students, 7.7 percent participated in the survey. The 370 students who responded took the time to answer questions regarding whether or not they actively sought out information regarding the two presidential candidates' Web sites. They also were asked how useful they found the sites and how important they felt the sites were. More than 81 percent of students surveyed said that they actively sought information regarding the two candidates during the campaign. Approximately the same percentage of students found the Web sites to be a useful communication tool in researching information surrounding the candidates. Overall, research showed that most respondents felt that John Kerry's and George W. Bush's sites were effective. The survey results indicate the Internet in general and specific candidates' Web sites were important tools in reaching college students. The two candidates' sites played an important role in college students' opinion, and the internet will have an increasing importance in communicating election information to students in the future.

REPRESENTATION OF THE RUSSIANS IN AMERICAN POPULAR MOVIES, Yuliya Dudaronak (mentor Professor Glenn Scott). An intriguing aspect of intercultural communication is the communication processes through which one culture's perceptions of another culture are created and recreated. As the moving vessels of global cooperation and awareness today are all means of mass communication, it becomes important to study the role of the mass media in creating and perpetuating stereotypes of foreign nationals. This research paper examines the current stereotypes of Russians in American popular movies from a symbolic interaction's perspective. Content analysis of popular American films is used to explore the ways in which Russians are represented in the media and to analyze how those images contribute to the development of Americans' cultural perceptions about Russians. The IMDb (Internet Media Data Base) is used to locate films for analysis. The IMDb is a searchable, web-based data base that allows the researcher to search over 385,848 movies by title, people, character, quotes, biographies, or plots. IMDb's "Character Search" function with the search term "Russian" is initially used to locate films that contained Russian characters. The search is limited to movies made since 1980 to get the Cold War and Post-Cold war movies. The movies with over $40 million in gross box office receipts in the United States were chosen to locate films that a considerable number of people would have seen. The paper concludes that we can see the changing nature of the popular stereotype associated with the Russians - from Cold War ("Godless communists in an Evil Empire") to the break-up of the Soviet Union ("poor, hungry victims of a disorganized and self-defeating socialist system" or "Russian mafia" and oligarchs).The paper suggests that presenting Russians as "the enemy" may play an important function in helping America define its own identity. Russians were - and still are - presented as the "Them" against whom the "Us" could be defined. This image of Russia has helped to define America of last century as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience, - as "The Other."

BETRAYAL CLOSE TO HOME: A LOOK AT MEDIA BIAS DURING THE ALGER HISS PERJURY TRIALS OF 1949-1950, Katherine E. Hart (mentor Dr. Harlen Makemson). Alger Hiss was a trusted State Department official in the mid-1930s. Later, he went on to serve as adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt during the Yalta Conference and was named President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1947. Hiss's career came to a halt after he was accused of being a communist by a former ex-communist courier and Time editor Whittaker Chambers. Chambers accused Hiss of treason and testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee in August 1948. Hiss later was charged with two counts of perjury. The first trial began in June 1949 and ended in a hung jury. The second trial began in November 1949 and ended in a Hiss conviction on both counts of perjury. During the two trials of Alger Hiss, the media took sides. Until now, the most popular argument has been that Alger Hiss was framed, and the media forced him to receive an unfair trial (Swan, 2002). Hiss himself argued that the press made him look guilty and felt the jury was swayed (Hiss, 1988). This study will examine those conclusions using historical research methods in the context of framing theory, which suggests that media "call attention to some aspects of reality while obscuring other elements" (Entman, 1993). The New York Times, Washington Post, and Time were examined between May 30, 1949 and February 16, 1950, the period in which the two perjury trials took place. Sixty articles from the trial were coded for positive, negative, or neutral connotations of Hiss. Examination of these primary documents strongly suggests a bias in favor of Hiss through the language used to describe appearance, attitude, and character. The media also uses sympathetic language to get the reader to support Hiss. Finally, the media protects Hiss through downplaying both his role in government and the importance of the trial.

BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE: A DOCUMENTARY, Neeley J. House (mentor Professor Ray Johnson). In the early 1930s, a group of disgruntled faculty members from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, migrated to the rural mountains of North Carolina. These professors, disillusioned by the traditional liberal arts education, had a radical idea for a new school of the arts. They envisioned a learning environment devoid of grade restrictions, class requirements and rigid teacher-student relationships. In 1933, Black Mountain College opened as the realization of an experiment in education that would resonate through the literary, architectural, and modern art world. Despite being constantly plagued by financial problems and forever seemed at the edge of ruin, the school managed to attract some of the most revolutionary writers and artists of the time period including Charles Olsen, Robert Creeley, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Motherwell, and Jonathon Williams. Some of the charter advisors of BMC included John Dewey, Carl Jung and Albert Einstein. These teachers and students had the unique opportunity to be secluded in an environment that fostered interdisciplinary educational growth through experimentation in the arts. Throughout its 24-year run, the school shifted its ideals to a more liberal, art-driven college, contrary to the socially and politically conservative nature of the 1940s and 1950s. The legacy of Black Mountain College remains imprinted on the minds of intellectuals around the globe. The research for this film comes from three main sources. A catalog of original photographs and documents was created based on information located in the North Carolina Archives. Primary source material was gathered from extensive interviews of former students and professors and the study of memoirs and letters from students written both during the BMC era and following its closure. Finally, interviews with BMC researchers and experts give an outsiders impression of the impact BMC had on literary and artistic movements. This documentary places BMC in its appropriate historical context, introduces the main cast of characters and gives visual and auditory examples of some of work produced at the college to generate an overall creative impression of the school and its students.

THE FRESHMAN FIFTEEN, Timothy Kelly, Christopher R. Morse, Katherine Nimmo, Julie Salvatore (mentor Dr. David Copeland). It began as a dream; 16 students on a mission to create a masterpiece of educational literature in a little under 4 months. Under the direction of a fearless leader, these 16 brave souls undertook a Senior Seminar project that was unheard of within the academic community: to create, market, publish and promote an educational guide to college. This is their story. The purpose of this project is to document and execute a plan to create, publish, market, promote, and sell a book for incoming Elon University freshmen. Written by graduating seniors in the school of communication, the book would serve as a reference or guidebook for new students with advice from upperclassmen about things that they wished that they had known. The book is broken up into fifteen designated chapters that address a wide range of topics; dorm life to breaking the bubble and social life to academics. The book attempts to dispel the myths and ambiguities of college life while giving an accurate description of Elon for new students. The overall focus of the project was not only to leave something for posterity but to also learn how to execute and plan for the sale and creation of a product such as this. Given all of our backgrounds in communication; including broadcast, film, corporate and journalism, we felt as though this would be an appropriate project to display our knowledge and skills of the communications' discipline. The book will be produced as a result of research and surveying of current Elon students through an online survey created by the group. The group has also held a focus group and observed many Elon admissions responses. Our belief is that there are many things that current Elon students will be able and willing to share with incoming Elon students. We also believe that many incoming students will have questions that would otherwise go unanswered by the Elon community. This project aims to answer those questions and concerns of the average incoming student, while also serving as a learning experience for us as future media professionals.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN AGES 6-12, Mariah E. Lietz (mentor Dr. Jessica Gisclair). The advertising industry spends billions of dollars each year in order to target a specific demographic. In this overwhelming consumer society, it is hard to avoid exposure to advertisements, especially for children. Today's generation of children are affected by advertisements in numerous ways. This study focuses on the psychological effects television advertisements pose on children ages 6-12. The two hypotheses proposed were that advertisements on television have significant psychological effects on children and that parents are fully aware of the psychological consequences and social challenges television advertisements have on their children. Two methods were conducted to analyze the psychological behavior of children: qualitative research through focus group and quantitative research study by means of a survey. Results expose that children's psyches are influenced by advertisements viewed on television. Although children's parents are fully aware of the consequences posed by the effects of advertisements, they believe their children are unfazed by it all.

COLLEGE-STUDENT-LEADER COMMUNICATION, Christopher R. Morse (mentor Dr. Kelli Burns). This research was an analysis of the techniques and patterns of information flow utilized by student leaders. This project was important because it was an opportunity for the author to apply the knowledge of media and communication that he obtained in the classroom to real-life scenarios and interactions that he was involved with. It was an opportunity for the author to analyze patterns and techniques used in the area of student-leadership in the hopes of interpreting challenges that are faced and then providing feedback for them. Research and background information was collected as a part of the literature review that the author saw as vital to such a project. Also, using Katz and Lazarsfeld's two-step-flow theory of communication, the author was able to construct a survey for current student leaders from Elon University and many other surrounding universities about their communication patterns and techniques. The project uses survey responses from student leaders and administrators from schools affiliated with the NCICU (North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities), the Southern Conference (collegiate athletic conference), and information collected from student leaders at Elon University. The results and findings of the project are a basic analysis of student-leader communication and an illustration of the conceptual models of the techniques and trends illustrated in the response data. The most important results are illustrated in the varied responses from student leaders and administrative staff at the universities surveyed. Also, the common examples of communication breakdowns and similar scenarios presented allow for suggestions from the author based upon an outside analysis of the situation from someone with a background in communication theory and process.

IM, THERFORE I AM: TEENS' SOCIAL USE OF THE INTERNET, Lindsay N. Porter (mentor Professor Janna Anderson). This comprehensive analysis of data obtained through both quantitative and qualitative research of real subjects examines the changing paradigm of teen Internet use. What were once thought of as cutting-edge methods of communication - e-mail, chat rooms, message board posting-are increasingly being replaced in popularity by new technologies - Instant Messaging, cell phones and blogging - that up the ante on the interaction achievable by virtual and real-time methods of socialization among loyal teen users. Thirty middle and high school-aged students participated in focus groups at Elon University in June 2004 to establish baseline data for a Pew Internet & American Life national phone survey regarding the communications habits of youth. Preliminary findings reveal that teens are increasingly using the Internet, particularly Instant Messaging, to expand social horizons beyond their own geographic boundaries. The result is not a de-socialization of teens, but rather a network of extended communication and increased understanding of Internet technology. The study's findings also allude to the importance of self-guided exploration in teen Internet usage, a key factor in understanding the transformation of the teen audience from passive information receivers to active information seekers - a move both propelled and perpetuated by the evolution of the World Wide Web. Results generated from this research support the belief that communications professionals should be monitoring the Internet use and consumption patterns in teens closely B4 it's 2 l8.

"WHAT I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME MY FRESHMAN YEAR": AN EXAMINATION OF SENIOR STUDENTS AND THEIR FOUR-YEAR EXPERIENCE AT ELON, Liza B. Schirmer, Danny M. Quinn, Katie C. Broom, Stephanie J. Taddeo (mentor Dr. Frances Ward-Johnson). As more and more of today's teenagers are entering colleges and universities, it is important to assess how they feel their years in college have prepared them academically and socially for life after higher education. This research examines the experiences of seniors of the Class of 2005 at Elon University and investigates how they feel the past four years have shaped their development and preparation for future careers. The research focuses on three specific objectives: how well Elon University prepares freshmen for college life, how well Elon students are prepared for post-graduation, and how Elon helps students grow socially with involvement in extra curricular activities outside of courses and class work. In an effort to obtain information for this research, quantitative methods, including surveys, were used. Additionally, qualitative methods were used, as a senior focus group was held. A total of 143 seniors were asked numerous questions to compare changes and experiences from their freshmen year to changes throughout their college experience. Moreover, students were asked to indicate on the survey whether they would be willing to partake in a focus group session to give more in-depth information regarding the research. The seniors who agreed to participate in the focus group represented three different majors; corporate communications, psychology, and human services. Survey and focus group questions examined senior experiences with various components of Elon's academic and social life, including freshmen orientation, Elon 101 classes, relationships with professors, involvement in student organizations and clubs, career center experiences, and community/volunteer service. The research results indicated more positive experiences than negative experiences by seniors in various areas of Elon's college life. However, many seniors voiced opinions and provided various recommendations that would benefit the experiences of future generations of Elon students. The importance of this research is to give Elon faculty, staff and administrators in depth insight into student matriculation and to help improve the undergraduate experience overall. This specific area of research is important in the communications field because it creates awareness and knowledge about how change within an environment affects people - specifically students - in various ways.

EDUCATION, PUBLIC HEALTH, AND THE MEDIA: A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF AIDS COVERAGE IN AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS (JANUARY 2003-SEPTEMBER 2004), Adam B. Smith (mentor Dr. Brooke Barnett). With more than 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, the media coverage afforded the topic is of significant interest. The strength of this study comes from the focus on newspapers across circulation size and region. Previous research on this topic has focused on coverage in major media outlets and specific geographic regions, without discussion of the importance of local coverage throughout the U.S. This study is also significant in that its analysis is based on interviews with those people who are key stakeholders in the epidemic, offering a perspective from those with a vested interest. Guided by framing theory and agenda setting, this content analysis examined 32 American newspapers, varied by region and circulation, to better understand how the media covered AIDS. In all, 1116 stories between January, 2003 and September 30, 2004 were coded. The coding instrument was constructed based on a previous Delphi study of AIDS activists, care workers, and others in the field. During that study, those entrenched in the epidemic were interviewed about how AIDS was, and in their minds should be, covered.

THE PURCHASING POWER OF ELON STUDENTS: A STUDY OF AWARENESS AND USE OF ALAMANCE COUNTY'S CRUZ-THRU CONVENIENCE STORES, Mary-Hayden Britton, Rebecca Edwards, Brett D. Willi (mentor Dr. Frances Ward-Johnson). Each Elon student's economic impact in the community is $27,000 annually, according to a Fall 2004 study by the Elon University Office of Institutional Advancement. For off-campus businesses, Elon University provides a key opportunity for growth - if these businesses are able to successfully tap into the purchasing power of students. The purpose of this study is to assess student awareness and use of Alamance County's unique Cruz-Thru Convenience stores, which are also co-owned by an Elon graduate. The stores provide the convenience of allowing customers to remain in their cars even as their orders are being filled. There are three locations in Alamance County, and while this study includes data from each store, a significant portion of the research focuses on the Williamson Avenue location, which is closest to the Elon campus. This quantitative study employed the use of surveys to investigate Elon students' purchasing power in the following areas: demographics, purchasing patterns, utilization of various informational resources, motivating purchasing factors, and current perceptions of Cruz-Thru stores. On two separate days in the Fall, a total of 129 surveys were completed by Elon students and faculty on-campus pertaining to the thus mentioned areas. Additionally, this study utilized qualitative data obtained from in-depth interviews with employees of Cruz-Thru stores and observations of the businesses' daily operations. Upon careful analysis, our research recognized a general lack of awareness in the Elon community of the business' products, services and marketing platform. More specifically, these perceptions of Cruz-Thru were not in-line with the business' differentiating qualities, as perceived by the owners of Cruz-Thru. This research is beneficial because it transcends the scope of Cruz-Thru stores and gives Elon students insight into their own buying power and impact on the local community. Our study is also valuable because it gauges student awareness about a local business, and student use of products and services. Additionally, this study can help guide future marketing strategies of Cruz-Thru stores and other potential businesses that aim to tap into Elon students' spending power.



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Last Modified:  3/30/05
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