CELT Faculty Spotlight: Michael Bugeja

Dr. Michael Bugeja, Distinguished Professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, has spent 17 years at Iowa State. His advice for teaching:
“I use the Canvas “Discussion” tab for extra credit and increased engagement and interaction with students. Typically I post on the Discussion page my published works in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, the Des Moines Register, Iowa Capital Dispatch, and Poynter, among other publications. I also have two book/research sites where I post articles, for the public: Interpersonal Divide and Living Media Ethics.”
Those are copied to the Discussion tab and students are given extra credit for reading and reacting to the articles. Here’s the official notice in my syllabus: “Extra credit: Canvas Discussions: One way to earn extra credit is to participate in the discussion tab on Canvas. If you post a 100-word or more response to a discussion, you can earn up to 5 extra points with a maximum of 50 points on all discussions in the course of a semester.”
The class maximum point attainment is 1000, so in actuality, this is a small allotment. Nevertheless, as I tell my class, it can mean the difference between an A- and an A or a B- or B, etc.
To view how this works on Canvas, here is a screenshot of a previous JLMC462 Media Ethics class, a capstone course in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
Discussion page JLMC462 Media Ethics class, a capstone course in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
Discussion page for LMC462 Media Ethics class (click image to enlarge)
As you can see, viewing the participation capsules on the righthand side of the picture, several students have taken advantage of the extra credit. (The photo only shows 8 of some 40 discussion posts with almost everyone in the class posting replies.) For a close-up look at how this works, see this Chronicle of Higher Education article titled “And for extra credit, read a physical book.”
Closeup of the discussion
Eight students chose this article to read and respond to with enlightened posts that also enhanced my own awareness. This is a benefit of the practice, too. Sometimes students disagree with what I have written and present counter arguments. I am always respectful of differing viewpoints. I also monitor responses for bias or inappropriateness. Sometimes students will respond to what their peers have said, so monitoring and teacher replies are essential. That said, in the several years I have been doing this, no student has had a response edited or rejected by me.
Here’s an example of responses to the above article, with names of students whited out for privacy:
I have found that the Discussion tab not only fosters more student-teacher interaction but also allows students to see my own research and opinions on a variety of topics all associated with media ethics. That is important. Teachers do not want to post articles expressing political views or personal issues. The goal is to select articles that affirm or enhance course content.
Sometimes student posts give me ideas for new articles on my book sites or in my research. In fact, the Chronicle piece was written when a student in my Technology and Social Change class asked if the required book for a paper could be a print rather than online one because his phone had too many distractions, hindering reading comprehension.
Student-teacher engagement is the key to comprehensive learning. Moreover, the teacher does not have to hear pleas from students for extra credit assignments when one is built into the course, as this is. If students complain late in the semester about grades, I ask whether they have taken advantage of this feature. That puts the onus on them to read and respond in a manner that is fair to every student in the class, as no one gets preferential treatment.

What CELT program, resource, grant, etc would you recommend and why?

I recommend “Consultation and Classroom Observation,” which provides feedback to instructors on teaching techniques. I have recommended this site as a past director at Greenlee and now as mentor to instructors. Feedback is essential to continue excelling in the classroom, and this is a wonderful resource.
Michael Bugeja
Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences, teaches media ethics and technology and social change at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. He came to Iowa State in 2003 as director of the Greenlee School and served 14 years, earning college and university top administrator awards and the 2015 Scripps Howard Administrator of the Year Award. That year he was elected to the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The Iowa Newspaper Association honored him in 2017 with the Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Bugeja’s research has been published in Journalism Quarterly, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, Journalism Educator, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, New Media and Society, Journal of Communication, American Journalism, American Communication Journal, and other scholarly publications. He also has published 24 books across genres, including three books by Oxford University Press: Interpersonal Divide: Searching for Community in a Technological Age; Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine; and Living Ethics Across Media Platforms. He has twice won the distinguished Clifford Christians Award for Research in Media Ethics. His latest work is Living Media Ethics: Across Platforms, Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2019.