Barbara Barnett is an associate professor and former associate dean for undergraduate studies at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, including introduction to mass communications, research and writing, reporting, diversity in the media, media and the military, research methods, and media and popular culture. Her research focuses on gender and media, specifically women as victims and perpetrators of violence. She is a former print journalist and public relations professional.
Ph.D., Course work in communication theory, gender and media, feminist theory, standpoint epistemology, international communication, development communication, public relations, pedagogy, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and interpersonal communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A., Liberal Studies. Literature and women's studies. Adviser: Dr. Melissa Malouf. Course work included oral history and theory of narrative, Third World literature, feminist theory, fiction writing, and an independent study on women’s writing. Master’s project was a collection of fifteen short stories (some have been published), Duke University
B.A., Pembroke State University
STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPY
Barbara Barnett, Ph.D.
During my 12 years at KU, I have taught both skills and concept courses. These
courses varied in size, structure, content, and purpose; consequently, these courses have
presented very different challenges and required very different pedagogical strategies.
For example, our Journalism 101 course, Media and Society, is a large lecture class that typically enrolls 450 undergraduates, most of whom are freshman. One of my goals in this class has been to make it interactive—to rely less on lecture and more on class discussions. To do this, we begin each class with a “hot topic,” a story “ripped from the headlines,” and students discuss in small groups, then in the larger class. Afterward, we have a discussion of the readings, in which I pose questions and ask students for responses. I conduct a pre- and post-test of student knowledge each time I teach the class and use results to refine presentations for the next semester. In this class I also ask students to participate in a media fast, in which they try to live without media for 24 hours. I tell them I don’t expect them to complete the fast, but to write about what the experience of no media was like. This assignment helps students reflect on their media use and the prevalence of media in their lives, but it also helps me understand their knowledge, attitude, and values. (With students’ permission, I share results with journalism faculty to help professors understand the perspective of students who are entering our school).
When teaching Journalism 534, Diversity in Media, I work to help students develop media products that offer more accurate and authentic representations of the society in which we live and to help students understand how media texts and images convey values about who matters in society and who does not. I teach diversity as a job skill, and I encourage students to think about how the media messages they will create affect audiences. I evaluate students’ work in several ways: a series of response papers, in which students write about their reaction to a television program, such as the Oscars or the Super Bowl, and discuss how they saw or did not see elements of diversity (awareness); a profile story of a person who is not like the student (analysis of differences); and a research report, in which students analyze some form of media and say how diversity is or is not present (advocacy). I use grading rubrics to evaluate each assignment, and I use mid-semester course evaluations, in which I ask students to tell me one thing that is going well and one thing they wish would change. This helps me understand student concerns. I discuss these concerns with students and explain what I will do to correct or modify.
I have created two undergraduate courses at KU. One, Journalism 500/720, Media and the Military, explored journalists’ coverage of the military, and KU students worked with officers attending the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth to help them learn about the media’s role in democracy. In this class, students were evaluated on media stories they produced but also how well they worked with or taught officers. In addition, I created a Media and Satire course for the Honors program, designed to explore how fake news highlights larger truths and uses humor to discuss topics that may be uncomfortable. Students’ final project was to produce their own piece of media satire, and they were evaluated, using a rubric, on how well they communicated their ideas.
In the journalism school, undergraduate advising is done informally. Faculty members mentor students about career choices and options. My work in this area has been to meet with students to talk about courses to study in journalism, career choices, and internships. This was a major part of my job as associate dean.
Graduate advising and mentoring
I have made a conscious effort to work with students in our masters and doctoral programs. This has involved teaching courses in research methods, media and popular culture, and qualitative research. In those classes, we have focused on practical and theoretical projects. For example, in one research methods class we conducted an online readership survey for the Prairie Village Post newspaper. My work with grad students also has involved supervising four independent studies since 2010, as well as serving as chair of 10 master’s committees and one doctoral committee. Additionally, I currently am working with a doctoral student on a study of how journalists work in violent environments, and this has resulted in a conference paper, which has been submitted to a journal. Also, I continue to work with past KU students who are now professors at other universities. I worked with a former student, now a Marist University, on a conference paper about media coverage of rape in the military; the paper was published. And I am working with another former student on a research project about postpartum depression in social media.
As a feminist scholar, I have thought long and hard about how my research
Intersects with my teaching, and I have worked to bring into the classroom some of the
principles that guide my research. Feminist pedagogy parallels my focus on student-centered teaching because it challenges the notion of the teacher as ultimate authority.
Feminist pedagogy promotes the sharing of authority between teacher and student,
challenges the perspective of the student as passive recipient of knowledge, and suggests
that teachers focus on the process of learning rather than the products of learning (tests
and grades). With this in mind, I have worked to make my classrooms participatory—to
encourage students to play a role in their own learning. This sharing of authority does not mean I abandon my responsibilities as a teacher and that students go without direction; it does mean that I work more as a coach and a mentor than an instructor.
My teaching philosophy is one of student-centered learning, which means keeping a focus on both short-terms goals, such as effective use of class time, student success in class, and interactive learning, as well as long-term goals, such as preparation of students to become thoughtful and ethical media communications professionals. I think of the courses I teach as dynamic—they must grow and change. Each semester I re-think the courses I teach, with the aim of updating the course content and making it more relevant to students’ lives. I ask students for their feedback and ideas, and I work to incorporate their suggestions. While I work to help students learn the skills and values necessary to be good communicators, I also learn from students about how to be a more thoughtful, creative teacher.
- Introduction to mass communications
- Diversity and media
- Research methods
- Media and the military.
Gender, media, and violence, including research on women who have been perpetrators, survivors, and witnesses of violence. This includes media coverage of women who kill their children and myths about motherhood; motherhood in "mommy blogs;" newspaper coverage of women who are victims/survivors of rape and sex trafficking; media representations of women’s health; portrayals of female athletes in journalism and on websites; and, the tension between women’s narratives and the “masculine” style of journalistic storytelling.
Since coming to KU, my service has been at the school and university level. As an associate dean, my leadership style was that of "servant-leader." My goal was to ensure that students had the tools and resources to be successful at KU and beyond. That can mean information about scholarships, a curriculum that gives them skills to practice their profession competently and with integrity, constructive criticism on their work and work habits, and opportunities to develop their own work portfolios. Within the journalism school, I worked to make sure students succeeded in their goals, not my goals for them. I tried to lead by example--to practice journalism with the passion, skills, and integrity we value in our mission statement--and not to ask students or faculty to do anything I would not do myself.
I currently serve as chair of the journalism school's curriculum committee. I also serve as a member of the university's committee on assessment, and I wrote the assessment section of the university report for reacrreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.
Outside the journalism school, I am conscious that whatever I do is a reflection of the school but also the profession of journalism. It's important to me that those elsewhere in the university see that journalism is about service to the community and that journalists are fair and helpful in what they do.
Beyond KU, my service projects (Costa Rica and Media and the Military) have focused on community improvement. In Costa Rica, the focus has been on working with local communities to prevent dengue fever. With Media and the Military, the focus has been on helping both journalists and the military understand the value of their roles in a democracy.