Teaching Awards

  1. BulletCopenhaver Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology

  2. BulletUCLA Communication Studies Teaching Award

  3. BulletApple Distinguished Educator

  4. BulletTwo-time nominee, Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award

Core Courses

  1. Bullet Comm Studies 151: Computer-Mediated Communication
    This course examines how computer technology, particularly the Internet, has influenced patterns of human communication. In so doing, students first examined the history and distinctiveness of computer-mediated communication (CMC), and then turned to CMC's influence on modern economic, political and social interaction. In these courses, I enhance the breadth and depth of material covered by including over twenty options for small student research projects. These projects are intended to serve as the empirical basis for in-class discussions, and also to help make the material covered in the lectures and readings more relevant and interesting to students.

  2. Bullet Comm Studies 160: Political Communication

    This course examines the determinants of political content in the mass media, as well as the degree to which Americans’ political opinions and actions are influenced by that content. In addition to typical exams, lectures, and discussions, the capstone project for the course is a project requiring students to compose and edit campaign commercials for fictitious presidential races. Students were given over an hour of raw footage featuring interviews of two candidates, and then used digital video tools to edit their ads, which were generally quite impressive (see examples here). By actually conducting a mass media campaign in an attempt to persuade their peers, students had an unusual chance to apply and cement their theoretical knowledge in the class.

  3. Bullet Other Courses
    I also developed two other core courses (158: Revolutions in Communication Technology and 160: Presidential Communication) and several other electives or seminars. See the full course listing at right for websites of my recurring courses.



Teaching Statement

Why Do We Have to Know This?

When I teach a subject, I am asking students to take on a large commitment of time and energy over the course of the term. By helping students understand how the material relates to their own lives or the broader world outside the classroom, I hope to encourage active and engaged learning, rather than simply transfer information to passive memorizers. In my development as a  teacher, I have worked to enhance students’ attention to and understanding of course material by improving both the content of my teaching and the tools I use to communicate it.

For example, in my Political Communication course (CS160), students study the role and power of political advertising in American politics from a theoretical standpoint, but are then called upon to actively apply that knowledge through the class capstone project: A group project in which students compose and edit two 30-second commercials about a fictitious presidential race. After providing basic video training and consulting with each group, even complete video novices are soon able to draw valuable lessons about the medium’s power (and limits) for persuasion.1 When the ads are completed, we devote a class  to a “film festival” in which students watch and peer evaluate each other’s work using anonymous online questionnaires. Finally, we discuss the lessons students learned from their firsthand attempts at persuasion through this medium.2

Similarly, in that same class we devote substantial time to learning about the power and limits of mass media persuasion. One of the most important findings in this area of research concerns the power of the media to affect outcomes by “framing” issues. To help students better apply this concept to their own experiences, I ask them to take an online survey at the very start of the quarter, including a variety of course- and media-related questions. Unbeknownst to the students, the survey randomly assigns students to two subtly different versions of the survey: The first includes a question that asks whether they would support a grading scale in which 80% of the class would receive a grade of C- or above. In the second version, they are asked whether they’d support a scale in which 20% of students received a grade of D or lower (an equivalent scale). Invariably, students are attracted to the scale when it is framed in terms of gains (the 80% C- or above), but are repelled by the choice when framed in terms of losses, despite having very strong preferences regarding grades. By seeing how a simple change in question wording affected students own “votes” on this important question in their own lives, they are far better prepared to understand how framing might affect outcomes elsewhere in political communication.

Bringing the Outside World into the Classroom

Sometimes students simply cannot easily relate to the course material.  To help them, I have tried to find ways to bring more of the outside world into the classroom. In some cases, I have relied on guest speakers: Students studying how politicians interact with the press are thus able to pose questions to presidential candidates, campaign advisors, members of Congress and practicing political journalists and pundits.3

In other situations, I have tried to figure out the best way to have students “bring in” relevant real-world experiences of their own. For my Evolution of Communication Technology class (CS158), students are encouraged to explore the major technological developments through hands-on projects, exercises, or activities. For example, when studying language acquisition, students do an in-class activity where they attempt to teach another student a simple 10-word language without using any other language. I use a hands-on, interactive demonstration of an actual printer’s workshop (presented by the International Print Museum) to help them understand the printing revolution. When we study the birth of radio, students could choose to do an optional assignment wherein they build a simple crystal radio by hand.

Similarly, my Computer-Mediated Communication class (CS151) has a menu of nearly two dozen projects, each of which is designed to allow students to bring findings related to course material back to the class and serve as the basis of in-class discussions. For example, when we study the manner in which new media have facilitated collective action online, students have the option of inventorying and analyzing the online appeals they had received from friends and organizations, or register for communication from online interest groups and track the responses over time.

Enlisting Technology to Enhance Learning

Of course, the world outside the classroom is changing rapidly. We are fortunate to live in an era of technological revolutions, particularly in the area of information technology. I am passionate about the power and possibilities new communication technologies afford us in the field of higher education, and I have attempted to take on a role as an innovator and leader in the use of such tools to improve my and others’ teaching.

I have played a leadership role on issues of educational technology for the campus, primarily through my service on UCLA’s Faculty Committee on Educational Technology (FCET). After I joined the FCET in June 2005, it helped establish a variety of vital campus initiatives, the most important of which related to a possible campus-wide collaboration and learning platform (see http://www.oit.ucla.edu/ccle/) The committee eventually culminated years of study and debate with a unanimous recommendation that the campus begin to converge on a common platform for course management and collaboration (Moodle). This development has proven to be a major enhancement in the information infrastructure of the campus and a boon to the online component of my teaching. While I had previously relied heavily on tools provided by Social Science Computing’s Classweb system (especially the homework boards and discussion forums), the Moodle-based Classes sites presented many new tools for interaction online. For example, in my Computer-Mediated Communication (CS151) class, I used the built-in Wiki tool to allow students to work together to suggest modifications to the syllabus for the class. I also regularly use the homework, discussion, and collaboration tools in the new system to continuously engage students in my classes.

In the “traditional” classroom, I use computer technology to enhance my teaching in all my lecture courses. To allow students to balance the need for good note-taking with the desire to remain actively engaged in the class dialog, I upload the text of any presentation slides prior to class so that students can print them out and use them to help structure their own note-taking. Similarly, over the last few years I have experimented with and gradually come to rely upon podcasting as a tool for student learning and review. For each lecture, I record an “enhanced” podcast (an audio recording my lecture that uses each lecture slide as a chapter marker to easily access the content of my lecture associated with that slide), which is helpful for students who are reviewing the class material, or simply missed that class and want to catch up on the material.4

In addition, since 2001 I have been actively involved in strengthening the capabilities of the Communication Studies Archive--one of the largest single collections of television video in the world. In addition to using it extensively in my own teaching and research, I have been working with my colleagues in Communication Studies and grants from OID, the CCLE, and the California Endowment to broaden and deepen the collection’s educational impact. Part of these efforts have gone toward providing a more student-friendly interface for searching, viewing, and annotating the collection’s news footage. We are also pursuing potential partnerships with other UC campuses to expand the collection’s reach and impact beyond UCLA.

Teaching Outside the Classroom

Finally, reaching audiences and students outside the traditional classroom has been a passion for me. In recent years, I have given successful guest lectures to a variety of citizen and alumni groups, including UCLA Extension’s Public Affairs series, UCLA BruinTech, the Global Security Seminar, alumni groups outside of LA, UCLA’s Bruin Woods program, the Arsalyn Program, the Foley Institute, the Bruin Academic Experience, UCLA’s On-the-Road series, Chancellor’s Associates Events, Parent’s Weekend, the UCLA Foundation’s Spring Leadership Event, Bruin Professionals, the Young Alumni Development Council Retreat, the University of California system’s Computing Services Conference, the UC conference on Teaching, Learning and Technology, and other non-UCLA venues.

I have also been particularly keen on helping mentor our undergraduate students. In the course of writing my two most recent books, I have relied heavily on the research assistance and insight of my students. I also regularly supervise Student Researcher Program (SRP) students, honors sections attached to my major courses, senior honors theses, and independent study students.

However, perhaps the most fulfilling mentoring I have done recently has been through the Undergraduate Student Initiated Education (USIE) Program, in which talented undergraduates work with a faculty mentor to develop and teach an actual university class. When I was at UCSD, I actually worked with that school’s Center for Teaching Development, helping train and mentor graduate students as they first entered the classroom. Here at UCLA, I have now mentored four USIE students through the highly-selective program. In all these cases, perhaps unsurprisingly, I have found that by engaging others in discussion about how to improve their teaching invariably helps me better understand and improve my own.


Course Websites


  1. COM STD 19-1, 2017 Spring

  2. COM STD 19-1, 2015 Fall

  3. COM STD 19-1, 2014 Fall

  4. COM STD 19-3, 2012 Fall

  5. COM STD 19-3, 2012 Spring

  6. COM STD 19-1, 2003 Fall

 COMM ST 88S (USIE course supervisor)

  1. COMM ST 88SA-1, 2013 Spring

  2. COMM ST 88SA-1, 2010 Spring

  3. COMM ST 88SA-1, 2009 Spring

  4. COMM ST 88SB-1, 2010 Spring

  5. COMM ST 88SB-1, 2009 Spring


  1. COMM ST 151-1, 2017 Spring

  2. COMM ST 151-1, 2016 Fall

  3. COMM ST 151-1, 2015 Fall

  4. COMM ST 151-1, 2015 Spring

  5. COMM ST 151-1, 2014 Winter

  6. COMM ST 151-1, 2010 Fall

  7. COMM ST 151-1, 2010 Spring

  8. COMM ST 151-1, 2009 Spring

  9. COMM ST 151-1, 2008 Spring

  10. COM STD 151-1, 2006 Winter

  11. COM STD 151-1, 2005 Winter

  12. COM STD 151-1, 2003 Fall

  13. COM STD 151-1, 2002 Fall

  14. COM STD 151-1, 2002 Spring


  1. COMM ST 158-1, 2010 Winter

  2. COMM ST 158-1, 2009 Winter

  3. COMM ST 158-1, 2006 Fall

  4. COM STD 158-1, 2005 Fall

  5. COM STD 158-1, 2005 Spring

  6. COM STD 158-1, 2004 Winter

  7. COM STD 158-1, 2003 Winter


  1. COMM ST 160-1, 2017 Spring

  2. COMM ST 160-1, 2016 Fall

  3. COMM ST 160-1, 2015 Spring

  4. COMM ST 160-1, 2014 Winter

  5. COMM ST 160-1, 2013 Winter

  6. COMM ST 160-1, 2012 Fall

  7. COMM ST 160-1, 2011 Fall

  8. COMM ST 160-1, 2010 Fall

  9. COMM ST 160-1, 2010 Spring

  10. COMM ST 160-1, 2009 Spring

  11. COMM ST 160-1, 2008 Spring

  12. COMM ST 160-1, 2008 Winter

  13. COMM ST 160-1, 2006 Fall

  14. COM STD 160-1, 2005 Fall

  15. COM STD 160-1, 2005 Spring

  16. COM STD 160-1, 2004 Winter

  17. COM STD 160-1, 2002 Fall

  18. COM STD 160-1, 2002 Winter


  1. COMM ST 162-1, 2015 Winter

  2. COMM ST 162-1, 2010 Winter

  3. COMM ST 162-1, 2009 Winter

  4. COMM ST 162-1, 2008 Winter

  5. COM STD 162-1, 2006 Winter


  1. COMM ST 189-1, 2017 Spring

  2. COMM ST 189-1, 2016 Fall

  3. COMM ST 189-1, 2015 Spring

  4. COMM ST 189-1, 2014 Winter

  5. COMM ST 189-1, 2013 Winter

  6. COMM ST 189-1, 2012 Fall

  7. COMM ST 189-1, 2012 Fall

  8. COMM ST 189-1, 2011 Fall

  9. COMM ST 189-2, 2011 Fall

  10. COMM ST 189-1, 2010 Fall

  11. COMM ST 189-2, 2010 Fall

  12. COMM ST 189-1, 2010 Winter

  13. COMM ST 189-1, 2010 Winter

  14. COMM ST 189-2, 2010 Winter

  15. COMM ST 189-2, 2010 Winter

  16. COMM ST 189-4, 2010 Winter

  17. COMM ST 189-4, 2010 Winter

  18. COMM ST 189-1, 2009 Winter

  19. COMM ST 189-1, 2009 Winter

  20. COMM ST 189-2, 2009 Winter

  21. COMM ST 189-2, 2009 Winter

  22. COMM ST 189-1, 2008 Spring

  23. COMM ST 189-1, 2008 Spring

  24. COMM ST 189-2, 2008 Spring

  25. COMM ST 189-2, 2008 Spring

  26. COMM ST 189-1, 2008 Winter

  27. COMM ST 189-1, 2008 Winter

  28. COMM ST 189-2, 2008 Winter

  29. COMM ST 189-2, 2008 Winter

  30. COMM ST 189-3, 2008 Winter

  31. COMM ST 189-3, 2008 Winter

  32. COMM ST 189-1, 2006 Fall

  33. COMM ST 189-1, 2006 Fall

  34. COMM ST 189-2, 2006 Fall

  35. COMM ST 189-2, 2006 Fall  

  36. COM STD 189-2, 2006 Winter

  37. COM STD 189-3, 2006 Winter

  38. COM STD 189-1, 2005 Fall

  39. COM STD 189-2, 2005 Fall


  1. COM STD 191R-1, 2005 Winter


  1. COM STD 194-1, 2004 Fall


  1. COM STD 197R-1, 2003 Winter


  1. COM STD 197T-2, 2002 Summer

  2. COM STD 197T-1, 2002 Winter