In public relations when it comes to understanding stakeholders we often think in terms of the acronym WIIFM. Isn’t “What’s in it for me?” a common unspoken question in the minds of many?
One of the ways that I learn is through applying concepts to my own situation. During an assigned reading “Constructivism in Teacher Education: Considerations for Those Who Would Link Practice to Theory” (Abdal-Haqq, 1998) an article on constructivism and also during our class exercises I am thinking, “How can I apply this to my teaching of public relations concepts?” I want my students to get it, and I want to be the best. It is an awesome responsibility to teach these young minds and they will take the knowledge into the field. They need to be prepared to apply the concepts they have learned.
All of that being said and my awareness level being raised I now find articles, conversation and the like on constructivism wherever I turn. One article suggested that by allowing students to contribute or decide on the professional segments to study offers opportunities for a pedagogical constructivist or collaborative approach and thereby helping to get the most out of your students.
According to a study “Constructivism gives students the responsibility for learning and breaks their dependence on instructors, while giving educators the satisfaction of sending students away with skills in critical thinking, collaboration, and self-knowledge. Students become self-directed learners who are better prepared for the lifetime of learning that the real world requires from thoughtful communicators. (Chen et al.,2001, 41)
So without knowing and probably because the program is so well developed I have incorporated this teaching strategy. One way this has been encouraged and facilitated further was to have students interview public relations practitioners with the same professional interests. (Boynton & Knott, 2003, 253) Using guest speakers that share areas of interests to the student has helped me to supplement my teaching.
Now, I want to grow more by developing real world exercises that allow each student’s professional area of interest to be applied and enhance students’ critical thinking skills.
I am looking forward to this stage in my career and developing my abilities, understanding the constructivist approach and engaging students in “active learning.” Student’s interest in public relations coupled with a class constructivist approach during discussion will, I hope, keep them interested, take me away from the “lecture,” approach and answer the WIIFM question. Students will make the learning connection and discoveries to occur spontaneously. I am going to be a better instructor.
Now I am left with another question: Did I get the point for any of this?