ABC Conference Week: Day 2

Sarah Paterson – ENG-PWR ‘15

Conference day two: Friday

(If you’d like to see what Rachel Fishman, Rachel Lewis, and I did on our first day at the Association for Business Communication conference in Philadelphia, click here!)


First thing Friday morning, the three of us prepared for our panel with Dr. Rebecca Pope-Ruark (RPR) – the reason we came to the conference in the first place! Our presentation was broken into three sections: first, RPR talked about the “student voices” trend in scholarship of teaching and learning; next, the three PWR students talked about our experiences in PWR service learning classes; and last, we took questions from the audience. I spoke briefly about the Publishing course I took last winter term, and about what I learned about communicating professionally with clients and other people on a project team. The Rachels talked about Grant Writing and Writing as Inquiry. Professors in the audience were curious about the way that we all learn from each other and from our own reflections when we do hands-on service projects in PWR. We fielded lots of questions. The atmosphere was fairly laid-back and conversational for a conference presentation, so it was easy (and not at all nerve-wracking!) to present and chat with our audience.


Seeing Philly!

One great benefit to attending conferences is that conferences are usually held in big cities where there are lots of things to do. When the three of us had some down time between events, we got to explore Philadelphia! I’d never been to the city before, so we went to do all the staple touristy things.

Here we are in front of Independence Hall!


PWR seniors at a Ben Franklin hangout

PWR seniors at a Ben Franklin hangout


Lunch & the Afternoon Session

The conference served a nice awards lunch for all the attendants on Friday. We sat with some professors and scholars from all over the country (including our own Dr. Li) and got to hear them chat about their research and the universities where they teach.

We also got to hear a speech by the then-President of ABC about understanding students in the millennial generation by understanding video games. It was based in some interesting research, but we wished that the speaker had talked to a student about the conclusions – some of them seemed to paint a simplistic and empathy-lacking portrait of 20-year-olds. More reasons to include student voices in scholarship of teaching and learning!

After lunch, Rachel Fishman and I attended another panel about teaching diversity and cross-cultural understanding in a business classroom context. There were some cool strategies that the professors on this panel suggested. Here’s one example (courtesy of Eastern Michigan University professor David Victor):


  • Stretch your arms out.
  • Clasp your hands together.
  • Which hand is on top?
  • Try the previous steps one more time. Is the same hand on top? (It probably is.)
  • Now intentionally clasp your hands with the opposite hand on top. How does it feel?
  • Stretch your arms out again.
  • Cross your arms.
  • Which arm is on top?
  • Intentionally put your other arm on top. How does it feel?


The thought behind the exercise is that when others think or do something differently than you, especially something that you think seems strange, there’s no reason to make a value judgment. There’s no good or bad way to do things – just different ways that we are each accustomed to.

I visited the poster session afterwards, and learned about some interesting current research – including Rachel Fishman’s honors thesis project about rhetoric in anti-human trafficking non-profit marketing. Other posters I looked at included one about corporate identity (do companies describe themselves as “we” or as “it?”) and one about types of rhetoric in student portfolios (fitting, since senior portfolios are due this Friday).


Conferences are fun – you see some new things, meet some new people, and learn lots in a short window of time. If you’re a student reading this interested attending a conference of your own, Elon’s NCUR abstract deadline is November 5, and you can always participate in SURF day and CELEBRATE! week in the spring!

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