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UNIVERSITY Of MISSOURI

MrssouRr scHool oF
JOURNALTSM
JOURNALISM
STUDIES DEPARTMENT
TO: School of Journalism Doctoral Teaching Program
CC: Greg Perreault, Doctoral Student, Instructor of J1100
RE: Classroom Teaching Evaluation
I observed Greg Perreault's classroom teaching in J1100, Principles of American Journalism, on
April 9, 2013. Jl100 is an introductory course that is designed to familiarize students with major
issues and concepts in
journalism
studies and is required for
journalism
majors and minors.
Greg's class has a total of 197 students, mostly freshmen. In addition to the classroom
observation, I also reviewed Greg's syllabus and assignment instructions.
The topic of his lecture on that day was on
journalists'
ethical duties and codes. Overall, I was
very impressed with Greg's meticulous preparation and effective delivery. His lecture was
structured, coherent and clearly presented. Considering the size of the class, he was especially
effective in engaging the students through questioning, dialogues and case studies.
The following are my notes on specific aspects of Greg's classroom teaching.
First, his lecture was thoughtfully structured and efficiently organized. The lecture time was
from I I a.m. to 72:15 p.m., a total of 75 minutes. He first gave some brief feedback on the exam
that the students had taken the week before, and then spent about 5 minutes reviewing what the
course had covered thus far. He reviewed the three metaphors ofjournalism and the economic
challenges faced by today's media. This review nicely led into the main topic of that day's
lecture on
journalists'
ethical duties. He started the topic by asking "why do ethics matter?" and
led a ten-minute class discussion on a familiar case regarding one of the most iconic and
controversial9lll photos which featured men falling off the World Trade Center. He then laid
out a conceptual framework and explained in detail several key concepts in ethics including
morality, perfect duties vs. imperfect duties, and consequentialism vs. deontologicalism. He
used several telling examples to illustrate each concept, and then focused on the particular case
of the 1994 Pulitzer winner Kevin Carter's photos covering the Sudan famine. He used the case
not only to explain the concepts of perfect duties and imperfect duties but also to engage the
students in discussion on how best to balance professional requirements and moral standards.
After wrapping up the discussion, he spent the rest of the class time explaining the requirements
for a take-home assignment based on the content and discussion of the lecture. The assignment
was an essay focusing on how to make an ethical decision when facing a
journalistic
dilemma.
Greg finished the lecture at around 12:05, and left some time for students to ask questions about
the lecture and the assignment. Overall, I would say his lecture had a clear structure and a logical
flow and progression.
201 NeffHall Columbia, MO 65211 Phone: 573-882-0860 Fax: 573-884-5400
M i ssour i's Ft als h ip IJ n ia ersi ry
Second, I am especially impressed by Greg's positive rapport with the students and his ability to
engage students with critical thinking. I noticed that he made regular eye contact with students
and used body language (e.g. hand motions, walking around) effectively to keep students
engaged. During the class discussions, apparently he knew all the names of at least a dozen
students who participated in the discussion. After a student answered the question, he would
respond by first acknowledging the student's input, by saying something like "that's a good
point, Mellissa." He then recaptured and sometimes reframed the student's main point and
raised a follow-up question in order to further the discussion. For example, after a student said
news value should be a consideration in whether to run a controversial photo in the newspaper,
Greg asked her what specific news value and news impact
journalists
need to consider. To make
a point about ethical dilemmas and boundaries, Greg shared his personal experience during 9/11
and talked about the historical significance of news for informing the public. During the
discussion, the students seemed to feel at ease engaging in the discussion, and students sitting in
both the front rows and the far back would raise their hands to answer the questions, which was
indicative of the range of the class engagement.
Third, the material covered during his lecture was well balanced in breadth and depth and
between concrete examples and abstract concepts. He used examples appropriately and
effectively. Other than the two cases he used for class discussion, he gave a wide range of
relevant examples to explain abstract concepts and theoretical arguments. For example, when he
was trying to explain ethical dilemmas and rationales for personal judgment,
he used the
example of the computer game..Bioshock, in which the player is presented with the choice at
various points in the game to either exploit characters in the game to gain more energy for the
player character, or spare each character for a smaller amount of resources. This example, I
would assume
judging
from the students' reaction, is something familiar to the students and thus
easily made sense for them. At another point, Greg used Walter Williams' Joumalist's Creed,
which should be familiar to the J-School students, to talk about
journalists'
ethical
responsibilities.
In addition, I would like to make a note on Greg's effective use of Prezi for his lecture
presentation. The advantage of Prezi is its capacity to help visualize content and the ease of
navigation between texts, and images and videos. It also shows a clear path of the navigational
sequences, which is ideal for a structured lecture presentation. I have, however, seen some Prezi
presentations where the visual stimulation is excessive to the point of distraction. Greg's use of
the medium avoided these errors and was quite effective. His presentation was clean and simple,
highlighting the key words and concepts rather than using longer sentences and excessive
quotations. The presentation included clear signals of topic shifts and transitions. The videos
and images were all well prepared and were easy to pull out for presentation. I would say Greg's
use of Prezi was instrumental in his organized delivery of the lecture and by keeping students
visually stimulated, it also enhanced the students' leaming experience.
Overall, I found Greg a very effective teacher especially considering the large size of the class.
This was perhaps the most prepared and the best-delivered class I have observed among the
doctoral students.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like me to elaborate on any of the
above observations.
=hn/r
Yong Yolz,fn.O.
f
Associate Professoi of Journalism Studies