The First of Many

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The Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design Ph.D. program at Clemson University will award its first doctoral degree on May 9, 2008.

Mac McArthur successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Instructional Proxemics: Creating a place for space in instructional communication discourse” on Friday April 11, 2008, and was recommended for graduation by his committee. This degree will be the first Ph.D. awarded by the College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities in the history of Clemson University, as well as the first for the innovative and transdisciplinary Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design program (RCID).

Instructional Proxemics” blends the study of theories in

> instructional communication;

> space & proxemics; and

> information/user-experience design

to investigate the influence of space on the interactions of students and teachers as mutual learners.

The abstract of the dissertation:

Changes in strategies of teaching and learning, changes in students, and changes in technology have necessitated contemporary changes in spaces of learning. Grounded in the general model of instructional communication (McCroskey, Valencic, & Richmond, 2004), this study proposes Instructional Proxemics as a conceptual framework for assessing the instructional environment through a blending of instructional communication and information/user-experience design. In a field-experiment involving five instructors teaching 15 sections of Public Speaking, students (n = 234) were invited to respond to a survey assessing measures of student learning, teacher behaviors, classroom practices, and classroom perceptions.

Results of this study indicate that learning spaces influence student perceptions across these measures, and that these perceptions are mitigated by the instructor. Instructor journals are used to provide context for these results. In sum, this dissertation advances the general model of instructional communication by promoting Instructional Proxemics as an impetus for the study of contemporary and innovative spaces of learning.

In a message to the Clemson administration, Dr. Andy Billings, chair of this dissertation committee, wrote that this dissertation is “an excellent example of the type of work that can be produced at the doctoral level in this field.” Alongside Dr. Billings, Dr. Bryan Denham (Communication Studies), Dr. Bill Havice (College of Health, Education, and Human Development), and Dr. Sean Williams (English, Professional Communication) served as members of the dissertation committee.

The defense, held in the Class of 1941 Studio, was attended by more than 25 members of the RCID family who rallied to support their colleague on this momentous day for the program. This success is just the beginning of a bright future for the RCID community at Clemson.

~ This has been a press release by Mac McArthur himself:

Mac has just told us: “I have accepted a position at Queens University of Charlotte for the upcoming academic year. I am very excited to serve there as an Assistant Professor of Communication, working toward tenure.” Congratulations, Mac!

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