Photographer: Billy Hathorn
The field of psychology has many different paths that one may take such as teaching, counseling, research, and much more. Specifically in the branch of collegiate teaching, communication plays a very important role in the everyday workplace. Communication between the professor and the students and colleagues helps to keep the job running smoothly.
Dr. Jerome Tobacyk, a psychology professor at Louisiana Tech, has a bachelors and masters in Psychology, as well as a PhD in Personality Psychology. He teaches a class called Fields of Psychology, as well as Personality, both of which I have taken. Dr. Tobacyk serves many purposes besides teaching that also include conducting research for the university, as well as for himself; publishing findings; and acting as an advisor for students. None of these things could be accomplished easily or efficiently without written communication.
Dr. Tobacyk, from the very beginning, made it clear that written communication is “the most important process associated with success in any workplace.” He does not simply go to the front of the class and spout information from the top of his head or simply hand out tests to be taken. There is much more work that goes into being an effective professor, such as lesson planning and explaining material to confused students. He has to be able to effectively communicate the information in a way that is easy for students to understand so that they may meet the standards set by himself and the university. Dr. Tobacyk says that the most common method of written communication between himself and his students is email both to answer questions students may have and to grade dissertations or any other written assignment. It is extremely important that he be able to clearly communicate with students about such documents otherwise their grades may suffer tremendously.
Besides acting as a professor, Dr. Tobacyk also conducts research on his own time. He believes that written communication between himself and others helps him as a teacher because it is “the best medium for the exchange of ideas and the best way to examine ideas critically.” In a field where information is constantly changing and growing and improving, written communication is essential to be able to keep up with the times and ensure that the details he is imparting onto students is accurate and up to date. Dr. Tobacyk believes that psychology, as a science, improves and grows through the exchange of these improvements.
During the interview, I drifted away from questions about the present, and instead inquired about his years as a student in the 70s. In school, Dr. Tobacyk was not required to take a professional writing class such as Technical Writing. He said that an unpleasant introductory speech class was the closest he came to learning how to communicate effectively. While he was a student, he was expected to learn how to communicate effectively through experience in other classes and was not taught how to do so. But, had he been offered such an opportunity, Dr. Tobacyk said that it would have been very beneficial to his “competency and self-confidence in the class setting.” He also believes that it would have helped tremendously in graduate school because the publication of important research through journals was extremely important.
Dr. Tobacyk plays a very important role in the community that makes up the psychology department at Louisiana Tech. Without written communication between himself, students, colleagues at Louisiana Tech, and colleagues in his field, he would be unable to do his job properly or effectively.
Amanda Allday, guest blogger