COMM 369óResearch Practicum

Descriptions of Faculty Research Projects



Dr. Pitts

Study Abroad Documentary and Research

Editing digital film footage for a research documentary on the experiences of students studying abroad in Paris, France
Coding interview transcripts from students who study abroad
Developing literature reviews about study abroad and international adjustment


Ageing and End-of-Life Communication

Gathering current research on communication about death and dying.
Developing an interview guide for end of life communication
Transcribing interviews
Coding interview transcripts



Dr. Jones

Engaging Politics Through Media
Students will assist in researching various facets of Dr. Jones's new book--The Monitorial Citizen: Engaging Politics Through Media. This research entails accounting for the numerous ways in which citizens engage politics through various media forms--comics, music, television, radio, magazines, books, film, newspapers, etc. Students will be asked to select one or more of these media, and assist in projects such as literature reviews, content analyses, web searches, and so on.

New media distribution of network talk show programming

This project examines how network television talk shows (Today, Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Meet the Press) are using new communication screens and platforms (the web, iTunes, cell phones) as new means of distribution for programming content.Assistants would surf the websites of ABC, MSNBC, and CBS, and catalog in detail the numerous ways in which such distribution and integration is occurring.Other research includes examining trade publications (Broadcasting and Cable, New York Times, et al.) via Lexis-Nexis.



Dr. Saint John

Newspapers in the digital age
Investigating how both printed and web-based versions of major daily newspapers have evolved in the placement of local news.  This line of study involves primarily looking at local news on front pages of selected papers across several decades in the late 20th century. Parallel study involves noting what kind of changes took place and/or accelerated on traditional newspaper front pages as newspaper websites arose and began to emphasize local news and commentary.  Research will involve textual analysis, coding, measurements of graphics and narrative.


Newsroom decision making and ethics regarding using public relations materials
This study involves reviews of trade and academic literature regarding newsroom ethics regarding using video news releases, information from "front groups" or using information from journalists who are subsidized by public relations sources.  Limited interviews of news directors and news assignment editors may be required.


PR ethics in the dissemination of information
This study involves literature reviews of both trade and academic literature concerning the ethical obligations and dilemmas that public relations professionals face when constructing and disseminating information, particularly as regards traditional and emerging electronic news media outlets.  Limited interviews of accredited public relations practitioners may be required.

Dr. Baesler:
NOTE: All projects involve a written research paper at the end of the term which Dr. B will help edit. Dr. B will assist/consult with all parts of each project. If the final paper shows enough potential, then Dr B will arrange to submit the paper to a professional conference for possible presentation. If the paper is really outstanding, then publication in an academic journal is also a possibility, but this will usually involve additional work (collecting more data, further writing after the semester, etc). Depending on the student's efforts during the term and amount of work on the paper, the student may be first author on the paper and/or publication and Dr. B second author. At minimum students will receive written acknowledgement for their efforts on any type of presentation/publication related to the project.

1.Prayer resources (At least three possible projects, see a-c below)
I have a 200+ page WORD document that I've been working on for over 5 years with citations, summary info, and commentary on prayer resources (articles, magazines, newsletters, journal articles, websites, organizations, contact people, book chapters, books, audio and video tapes, etc).

a)Academic Prayer Website
Review and select the "best resources" from the WORD doc for someone interested in conducting prayer research. Design and develop an interactive website with hotlinks to these resources where possible (those without links may simply be listed in a bibliography). Make the website available to the larger academic world by posting on Old Dominion University's Dept. of Communication's webpage. Create a way to assess the website via number of hits, peer/expert review, etc. Draft a paper describing the process of evaluating, organizing, developing, and assessing the website.

b)Prayer Inventory
Review and select the academic articles/books from the WORD doc that provide the best accounts of an individual's prayer life (something like a top 20 list). Then check recent (within the last year) empirical literature on prayer via PsychInfo, CommIndex, GoogleScholar, copy reference information, Dr. B will print/order the resource (article, book chapter, book, web site), read the source and record how the study measured prayer, organize information by author/year, meet with Dr. B to select the best of these sources. Based on the two reviews, create a comprehensive survey instrument to assess an individual's prayer life called the prayer inventory. [If you're really interested we may follow this up another semester with collecting data for the prayer inventory and assessing the reliability and validity of the measure].

c)Prayer Quotes
Review resources WORD doc and other literature (do a Google search) for quotable quotes (1-3 sentences) on prayer. Organize by themes and document source along with quote. Draft an introduction for each theme. Write an intro and conclusion paragraph with an emphasis on how the quotes may help people in their everyday prayer lives.

2.Centering Prayer
Centering prayer (as I am using the term) is a type of Christian prayer where the person repeats with love/devotion a holy name for a certain period of time each day (usually 20-30 mins). The goal is to interview 5 people that belong to a centering prayer group face to face for 45-90 mins. Group members will be located in the Hampton Roads area (Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, and Suffolk--most often you will meet them at Church with other individuals present, e.g. before or after a religious service), questions and a tape recording device for the interview will be provided. Meetings might take place in the evening/weekend, and/or morn/aftn weekdays. Interviews will be transcribed verbatim into a WORD document. Transcripts will be coded and analyzed using a software package if time permits.

3.Personality, Learning styles, and methods of Prayer
Research the literature for current reliable and valid measures of personality (Myer's Briggs, Big 5, etc) and learning styles (auditory, visual…). In consultation with Dr. B, decide which measures to use in combination with measures for different types of prayer. Distribute surveys (copies will be provided) to a large mass lecture for extra credit. Dr. B will create a codebook, and instruct on you on how to enter the data.

4.Phenomenology of Prayer
Transcribe 200 short journal entries (a few sentences per entry), and then create codes for each line of data, then categories for the codes, then develop relationships between categories, then organize into a theory of prayer. Dr. B will also be coding, categorizing, creating relationships, and helping develop the theory for reliability purposes.

5.Foundations of Prayer
a)Language of Prayer
Create a series of 75-100 questions designed to tap the "language of prayer" using Osgood and Suci's semantic differential dimensions/scales (copies of these scales will be provided). Survey a mass lecture of students, create a codebook, enter the data, analyze the data, and write up the results.

b)Prayer in Popular Culture
Review of a specific type of popular culture (e.g., films, music, religious items, bumper stickers, t-shirts, church billboards, TV shows, and/or internet sites, etc) for prayer related information. Write a paper that depicts prayer in for this particular form of communication in popular culture.

c)The Voice of Prayer
Design a study to test what people believe a "prayerful voice" sounds like. Student may be using AT&T software to create different sounding voice samples to then play for people and obtain their reaction via a short survey of items on the sound of a prayerful voice. Creating a codebook, data entry, and data analysis are also part of the project.

d)Holy Places of Prayer
Design a study to test the "prayerfulness" of different places/spaces. This will involve reviewing different type of architecture, environments, colors, physical objects, seating arrangements, etc. Creativity and an art background would be a great asset for this project. Create experimental samples of different types of places for prayer (experience with Photoshop or some other graphics program would be helpful) and design a survey to tap people's opinions about the prayerfulness of these spaces. Gather data, create a codebook, enter data, and analyze data.

6. Actional Prayer
Read the following two books (Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation, and 124-7 Prayer Manual: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Holy Space in the Real World--you can purchase them on-line for a nominal price, or you can borrow them from Dr B), and based on them, design an intervention study to create a 24-7 prayer room (at a local church or another venue). Plan to operate the prayer room for one weekend (Friday eve through Sunday evening) and perform observations/interviews of prayer participants. Record your research process and findings in a diary format as you progress.


Dr. Santo:

Media licensing and branding history and theory


Trans-media authorship and storytelling


Popular heroes and media culture



Dr. Edgerton:

History and development of the Internet and the World Wide Web


International adoption and use patterns on the Internet


Categorizing the Web's most popular sites


The contemporary documentary movement--Ken Burns and Errol Morris


Dr. Socha:

Blind parent-child communication


Positive communication within grandparent-grandchild relationships


Hope as a form of strategic communication in family relationships



Dr. Hassencahl:

Political cartoons and the Bush administration


Controversy in Denmark over cartoon depictions of Mohammed



Dr. Arnett:

Authorial identity in film




Digital video production



Professor Pullen:

The research and development of feature screenplays and television scripts, independent film and video production.Students would likely become involved in collaborations with local film and video production entities.