Grady College names 2021-22 Teachers of the Year

Grady College is happy to recognize its Teachers of the Year for the 2021-22 academic year: 

Grady College is also happy to recognize the 2021-22 recipient of the Roland Page Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty:

  • Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, Journalism. 

The Teachers of the Year are annually selected by their peers, based on excellence in the classroom and student feedback. The recipient of the Roland Page Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty is annually nominated and selected by graduate students. 

“Winning the Teacher of the Year award in one of our departments is saying something, because these hallways are lined with award-winning teachers. It takes a superb effort to rise to the top of this competition,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College.

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley advises students on the set of Grady Newsourse. (Image: Sarah E. Freeman)

Cantrell-Bickley, who previously spent more than 30 years in various roles for television news stations, is known by students for her enthusiasm, high energy, interesting and inspiring stories and persistent willingness to help students both inside the classroom and during the job hunt. 

“(Professor Cantrell-Bickley) communicates a lifetime of experience in easy-to-understand and widely applicable techniques, quotes, witticisms, and when need be, lectures. All of this is done in a frank and personable manner with respect to who students are and who we are developing into as people,” wrote one student.

“The Journalism Department is so lucky to have Dodie,” added Janice Hume, head of the Journalism Department and the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism. “She offers students the perfect mix of professional rigor and support. She does as much for students outside the classroom.”

In 2021, Cantrell-Bickley launched an all-volunteer news production program focused on social justice that attracted students from freshmen to seniors, and she led a team of faculty coaches and students to produce the hour-long documentary, “The First Five: The Integration of University of Georgia Football.”

Mattison, a filmmaker and author, uses his large bank of experiences writing and directing to teach his students what it takes to create stellar films. 

“Some students in his directing and capstone courses come away with award-winning films. But they all come away with invaluable knowledge, experience and insight into the skill, inspiration and determination it takes to create an entire, original visual story from the ground up,” said Jay Hamilton, head of the EMST Department and the Jim Kennedy New Media Professor.

Booker T. Mattison celebrates with students during Grady’s spring 2022 graduation celebration. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Outside of the classroom, Mattison recently finished shooting for his upcoming film “Sound of Christmas,” which stars musical artist and actor Ne-Yo and will air on BET during the holidays.

Pfeuffer is known as an avid proponent of active learning, a teaching method that focuses on engaging with students through discussion and problem solving. 

“Professor Pfeuffer is absolutely amazing. He’s so understanding and so concerned about every one of his students. He makes sure we understand the material, while still being genuinely concerned about our workloads,” wrote one of his students. 

“Alex is a beloved professor who teaches tough core courses in the curriculum,” added Bryan Reber, head of the AdPR Department and C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership. “The fact that students express the fact that they don’t have to come to his classes, but they want to come to them, speaks volumes.”

Smith, who specializes in teaching Graphic Communication, is beloved by her students for preparing them with applicable skills for their careers. 

“Kristen is an excellent instructor!” wrote one of her students. “She was always engaging and excited about our work and eager to both give helpful feedback and listen to students’ ideas. I feel like I learned a lot about graphic design, to the point that I would feel comfortable doing graphic design work when necessary in my career.”

“Kristen Smith continually embraces new pedagogical models in her teaching,” added Reber. “Even when it means that it will increase her workload, she is willing to take the plunge and try new ways to critique and grade student design work. Kristen is a remarkably dedicated teacher.  Our students are fortunate when they wind up in her classes.”

Rice is an expert health and medical journalist and communications professional with experience reporting for some of the nation’s top news organizations and serving as the director of media relations for the American Cancer Society. She is praised by her students as a mentor inside and outside of the classroom. 

“Professor Rice has gone above and beyond countless times for me and my peers in and outside of the classroom,” said one graduate student. “She helped me network and helped me get an assistant producer freelance job that I am enjoying so much!”

Students benefit from class redesign

There is little to be learned from the concept of ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’

Fortunately for Alexander Pfeuffer’s students, his investment in the Active Learning Summer Institute through the Center for Teaching and Learning last summer is now paying dividends.

Pfeuffer, an assistant professor of advertising, participated in the CTL program, learning new methods of active teaching for his Advanced Communication Management course, which he took over when he joined the Grady College faculty in 2018.

“The Active Learning Summer Institute inspired me to redesign my course to make use of collaborative tools and techniques,” Pfeuffer said.

Pfeuffer explained that his advertising class size varies between 30 to 50 students and it is important for all the students to interact with one another and with him. These tools help facilitate collaboration in real time and enable more voices to be heard.

The CTL program worked with Pfeuffer to refine his course’s learning outcomes and encourage students to think about and apply concepts. One way he teaches this is instead of having exams that are based on memorization, he presents campaign case studies and asks the students to create alternative solutions and suggestions of how leaders can improve campaigns. Case studies are studied and tweaked throughout the semester, providing ample opportunity for feedback from Pfeuffer.

“The challenge is getting students to engage with active learning,” Pfeuffer said. “It requires more work, but they take away a lot more.”

Several other Grady College faculty have participated in the CTL program, too, including Glenna Read who redesigned her Media Strategy and Activation class and Sabrena Deal who has redesigned several of her design classes to incorporate active learning techniques.

Deal explains that the lessons learned have particularly helped her Foundations of Graphic Communications class, a large lecture course.

“Active learning techniques have made the class an interactive, dynamic course that includes lively discussions because the students shape the course content and case studies by bringing their individual experiences into our course when engaging in the exercises,” Deal said. “This has simplified and strengthened my courses on every level.”


Brands gain or lose trust from consumers based on transparency and type of sponsorship agreement with online reviewers

Sponsored marketing efforts online can create less trust with consumers when consumers do not have clear understanding of the sponsorship terms. That is according to a study co-authored by Alexander Pfeuffer, assistant professor of advertising. The article, “Effects of different sponsorship disclosure message types on consumers’ trust and attitudes,”was published in International Journal of Advertising.

Pfeuffer and his co-author, Jisu Huh (MA ’00, Ph.D ’03) of the University of Minnesota, collected responses from more than 700 American adults when exposed to a variety of different sponsorship disclosures. The study participants watched designed product reviews and were surveyed. Their responses measured the level of consumer trust created based on the review.

Online product reviews are increasingly influenced by compensation from marketers, which causes a higher degree of bias and subjectivity.

This is a screenshot from one of the videos shown to study participants. Based on the content and review disclosure, researches measured the level of consumer trust.

“Based on the study insights, brand managers may benefit from offering sponsorship in the form of a free product for review, rather than offering payment for a review or a commission,” Pfeuffer said.

Consumer opinions of brands was higher when the online reviewer revealed they received a free product from the brand as opposed to financial compensation.

Pfeuffer says consumers react differently to varying levels of sponsorship and brands should limit the perception of sponsor-influenced bias from reviewers.

“The kinds of sponsorship deals that signal highly partial product reviews would cause negative impact on consumers’ trust in the product reviewer and attitude toward the sponsoring brand, compared to other kinds of sponsorship arrangements signaling higher impartiality,” said Pfeuffer.

Based on this study, Pfeuffer recommends more detailed sponsorship disclosure guidelines from the United States Federal Trade Commission and other global advertising regulation bodies. Online product reviews are increasingly influenced by compensation from marketers, which causes a higher degree of bias and subjectivity.

“Current guidelines are often vague and differ in their recommendations about the types of sponsorship that should be disclosed and the wording and information that should be included,” Pfeuffer said.

The consumer perception on sponsorships online can help more than marketers and consumers. Pfeuffer says content creators in online mediums can learn from this when negotiating their sponsorship deals. Findings suggest content creators are less likely to experience fractured audience trust if they accept a free product rather than compensation, like payment or commission.

You can read the study in its entirety by visiting this link.

Editor’s note: Jisu Huh was also the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award.