The Role of Communication in Human Ecology

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Dr. Katie Barrow in Carson Taylor Hall

Dr. Katie Barrow is an Assistant Professor of family and child studies at Louisiana Tech University. With a passion for the understanding of the complexities within society, Dr. Barrow holds a Ph. D. in human development, a M.S. in family and child studies, and a B.S. in psychology. Throughout her educational and professional career, Dr. Barrow has devoted countless hours to researching family diversity, sexuality and gender, and marriage and family relationships. Dr. Barrow enjoys teaching at the college university level, where she encourages students to explore sensitive issues, while challenging social and cultural norms.

As a Professional

While obtaining her graduate degrees, she wrote a 160-page dissertation on LGBT family relationships and a 60-page masters thesis on the lives of Jewish lesbian women. Her research and findings have landed her several publications in academic journals. Dr. Barrow has acquired the practice of writing in several different styles by composing manuscripts, reviewing textbooks, participating in research studies, writing grants, and creating workshops for organizations.

“Writing is a craft; it’s not only being smart enough, but it’s also oversimplifying concepts, like intersectionality, to my audience who may comprehend at a high school or even middle school level.” -Dr. Barrow.

When asked about her day-to-day tasks, Dr. Barrow says that she always has a paper or manuscript in progress and is always looking for possible conferences to submit her writings to. Her frequent use of written communication has taught her the discipline of efficiently structuring her writing for her targeted audience.

As an Educator

Dr. Barrow admits to preferring oral communication over written in classroom settings. Although she incorporates powerpoints in her lectures, she finds the use of models, visual aids, and videos to be more effective. She favors in-depth discussions with her students because she believes that nothing can truly substitute the interaction of talking. As a professor, she makes sure to educate her students both visually and orally, including students with communication disabilities. Dr. Barrow builds her students’ oral communication skills, while getting them into the practice of talking about sensitive issues. Her students’ coursework often includes creating brochures and writing research papers. She also requires her students to submit daily exit slips, teaching students the art of being succinct in their writing. For her courses, Dr. Barrow spends about 2-3 hours creating each lesson plan. She forms her lessons around the textbook, current events, academic journals, research studies, and even social media. She routinely updates her lesson plans because her field, like society and culture, is constantly changing.

As a Communicator

Dr. Barrow frequently emails her students addressing any questions or concerns they may have. She tries to respond to students as quickly as she can. When asked on negative forms of technical communication, she states that sometimes students lack formality in their emails to her. Dr. Barrow also exchanges emails with editors of journals regularly. She admits that the process of collecting her writings and getting published can sometimes become intense. It often entails submitting a cover letter, uploading a cohesive manuscript, receiving feedback, and sending revisions. From her recurrent practice, Dr. Barrow has learned to communicate with editors punctually considering this process will last weeks at a time. In addition, she often exchanges memos and emails with faculty members, however her colleagues are often more understanding of her busy schedule.

Summary

Communication not only turned Dr. Barrow into an educator, but it also made her into the accomplished, motivating woman she is today. On a daily basis, she influences the lives of her students, whilst shedding light on important cultural and societal issues through her writings and publications. She has effectively used communication in her career to share important matters on a professional and academic level. My interview with Dr. Barrow was extremely inspiring and gave me a lot of valuable insight on what becoming an educator in this field will be like.

Stephanie Daigle, Guest Blogger.

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