Published in Pittsburgh

Story by Ryan Spaight, Staff Writer/Graphic Designer


UW-Eau Claire alumnae Kallie Sandell and Emily Schreiner have been working on a research article together since before they graduated in spring of 2011. Sandell studied communication and Spanish business; Schreiner, organizational communication and public history.

Their manuscript is titled “Study Abroad and the Spiral of Silence: Does Encouraging Participation Create Apprehension for Those Who Don’t Participate?” It was published in the summer 2013 edition of the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review as one of three selections in the past four years.

Sandell said she and Schreiner had a few organizational communication classes together and had collaborated previously in other group projects.

“In CJ 300, which is Research Methods for Communication majors, I did some research that also related to study abroad,” Schreiner said. “Our original goal was to continue that research, but we ended up taking a different spin.”

Martha Fay, an associate professor of communication and journalism, taught the senior capstone class Sandell and Schreiner were in. After their graduation, Fay continued to advise their research.

Fay said she felt if Schreiner and Sandell put the work of editing their manuscript in upfront, they would have a good chance of getting published, though it would require significant effort.

Schreiner said she and Sandell agreed there was a disconnect between students that had chosen to study abroad and those that hadn’t.

The effects of study abroad in the classroom are especially prevalent on campuses like Eau Claire that encourage study abroad so strongly, Schreiner said.

“(Eau Claire) uses internal and external communication to express how great the study abroad programs are here and how many students study abroad, but there are still a number of students that choose not to,” Schreiner said.

Schreiner said they wanted to see how Eau Claire’s unique study abroad situation would play out in the classroom. They wondered whether those who hadn’t experienced other cultures via study abroad would be silenced by this.

Sandell said they thought the emphasis on study abroad and the frequent communication of study abroad must have an effect on the learning environment and the willingness to share information and they were right.

Fay said Schreiner and Sandell’s research indicated that students who hadn’t studied abroad are less likely to speak up during discussions of other cultures.

“And that’s a very important finding,” Fay said. “The process that the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review put them through was very similar to what I’ve been through myself at this level and that’s brutal; it’s a brutal process when you’re trying to get into a peer reviewed journal.”

Fay said it took her four years to get a piece of her own published. Academic journals use a ‘revise and resubmit process,’ so it’s submitted once and editors revise and give suggestions about where authors should reevaluate their research.

The Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review gave about six or seven pages of suggested revisions, and it takes months to revise and research every time, Fay said.

“It means a lot to know that a topic that interests you and you feel is important is also seen as publish-worthy,” Sandell said. “It’s a stepping stone; there’s opportunity to investigate more as a means to get a more holistic view of the topic.”

Fay said it’s not an academic exercise they’ll never use again. It’s about making connections between disparate areas and analyzing the unexpected outcomes of these connections.

Their research can serve as a model for other campuses to look at similar issues they may have, Schreiner said. She said there are things people don’t even think affect the learning environment that do, and she wanted to share that.