Faculty Spotlight: Adria Goldman

In this month’s Faculty Spotlight, Elizabeth interviews UMW’s Faculty Director for the Speaking Intensive Program and Associate Professor of Communication, Adria Goldman.

You’re in your second year as the Speaking Intensive Director—what drew you to this role?  

I’ve always been annoyed by common misconceptions about the study of Communication, so it is great to be in a position where I can help reinforce the value of communication in various subject areas, and for life, in general. 

Last semester, you presented on a teaching panel at the Eastern Communication Association conference—can you tell us a little about what you presented on?  

I was a part of a panel on collaborative team based and experiential learning. I discussed the class project I use when teaching Seminar in Digital Rhetoric (a capstone course with AMW designation). Students work together to design and implement a project promoting digital literacy to some target audience. The project is student led as the class works together to brainstorm and vote on a topic, create work agreements, develop task groups, and create a grading rubric. I shared details of the assignment and its implementation and discussed the value of student-led, team-based activities. It was fun to share the project with others and I walked away with so many additional ideas to use in the classroom.

You have an extensive teaching background; how do you see your research and teaching informing each other?  

I am always bringing my research into the classroom, whether it’s to add to our discussion on a particular topic or to serve as an example of the research process as I help students with mapping out their own research. The discussions I have with my students also inspire me to research. As we unpack course topics in rhetoric, identity, and pop culture, and I help them with developing their ideas, it makes me want to extend my own research and add to conversations on identity, communication, and pop culture. Teaching courses like Communication Research Methods and Seminar in Digital Rhetoric (capstone course) also give me the cool opportunity to use my research as an example, while constantly challenging myself to stay up to date on research practices—which helps my teaching and my researching.  

What does your research agenda look like right now? Has it changed in unanticipated ways?   

I continue to study the role of identity in communication, and I continue to focus heavily on representations of Black women in popular culture…Following a book project on Issa Rae and her media messages of identity and intersectionality, I have begun…exploring pop culture representations of Black Women’s Sexuality and the real-life implications of such messaging.  

My research agenda did change a tad in that I have spent more attention looking at media literacy.  I am trying to discover ways that I can use my research findings to create resources and activities that promote media literacy for younger audiences…I have always felt like research should live beyond books and academic journals. I am excited that I am finally looking for ways to follow up on that thought. 

Is there anything that stands out to you that has prepared you or continues to prepare you most for effective teaching?   

Reflection has been huge, and I love to include students on those reflections, as well. Thinking about what I originally intended for an assignment, as well as what worked well and what didn’t work well has really helped me in the classroom. I also think it is incredibly valuable to chat with others who are teaching…I have grown so much as a teacher by conversing with others in teaching and learning from their experiences and reflection.  

Who was your favorite teacher?  

I have so many! If I had to narrow it down to one it would be Dr. Pamela Tracy—my undergraduate professor in Communication Studies at Longwood University. Being in her classroom was both challenging and fun. She inspired me to become a professor and I strive to create a classroom culture like she did.  

What is your favorite way to start a class?  

Two ways — first I ask an attendance question about some random fun fact (ex: what is your favorite restaurant) and then we take a moment for students to share good news and updates. It is cool to learn about the students and especially fun to watch them celebrate each other’s good news. 

8 a.m. class or 4:00 p.m. class?  

4 p.m. — that’s a tough one, but I am not a morning person 🙂  

What is your dream class to teach? 

Black Women and Popular Culture. It would follow the format of a book I edited years ago with some friends from graduate school.  The class would use a mix of scholarly, popular, and news sources as we study Black women’s complex relationship with pop culture. I would invite some of the contributing authors from the book to come in and chat with the class.  

What is your one piece of advice for a brand-new faculty member?  

Give yourself time and grace to learn your students, your school, and your teaching style. After each year, reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Whatever didn’t work—learn from it, scratch it off the list, and move on.  

What podcast, book, or show would you recommend right now?  

Abbott Elementary. Quinta Brunson is amazing.  

If you could take any class in the UMW catalog, what would it be? 

Dr. Gary Richards is offering Perspectives in Sexuality during spring 2024 and I would love to be a part of those class discussions. (If I can take two, I’d add Games and Culture by Dr. Zach Whalen. I am always hearing students rave about the course and the cool things they learn.) 

What were you like as a student in college?  

Busy! I was a commuter student with both an off-campus and on-campus job, so my weekly planner was my best friend. Back then, my plan was to be the next Oprah and I made that announcement each year during class introductions. (So funny how later tutoring microeconomics made me shift my plan to teaching!) 

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