Graduate Studies Coordinator
Department of Agricultural Education and Communications
College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
What are your current research interests?
Broadly stated, I am interested in how to effectively communicate the science of agriculture. This includes exploring how agriculture is presented in social media conversations and identifying dominant frames used in media coverage of agricultural issues. I have also helped recent graduate students complete projects measuring perceptions of source credibility when providing agricultural information and using eye tracking to evaluate persuasive messages about contentious agricultural topics.
I also conduct research in the domain of the scholarship of teaching and learning. I am interested in how to improve students' critical thinking skills and willingness to communicate about controversial agricultural issues. I have also completed research to explore strategies to address writing apprehension in our writing-intensive courses. Additionally, I continue to explore the use of service learning as an active learning technique.
What types of outreach and engagement have you been involved with?
I have been involved with a number of outreach and engagement opportunities. One of the most enduring has been integrating service learning in my "Communicating Agriculture to the Public" course. Students in this class have worked with more than 150 clients to provide useful communication materials. This extends the work they do in the classroom and helps address a felt need in those organizations.
Another example of outreach was through a now completed grant project to help beginning farmers and ranchers use online marketing techniques to promote their agricultural operations. While this grant was active, we provided training and resources for farmers and ranchers in Texas and other states.
I am also involved with the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, which is a unique partnership of area agricultural producers and various agencies. In addition to supervising graduate students who complete communication-related responsibilities for the project, I also developed a multimedia case study about the TAWC and how it uses community-based social marketing principles to encourage positive behavior change related to irrigation efficiency. This case study is part of another USDA grant-funded project and the materials are being used in classes beyond Texas Tech University.
Finally, I often share my experiences as a teacher and research at regional and national conferences. I hope what I have learned as a scholar in agricultural communications can help others accomplish their teaching, research, and service responsibilities.
Why did you choose this field?
As the daughter of English teachers and the granddaughter of farmers, it seemed almost predestined I would become an agricultural communicator. As a high school student, I was active in FFA and developed a passion for communicating about the agricultural industry. I discovered the agricultural communications and journalism major at Kansas State as a freshman and never looked back.
I am intrigued about how communication can help increase knowledge, change behaviors, and motivate change. As both the agriculture and communications industries evolve, it is exciting to keep pace with these developments.
How do you define good teaching?
Good teaching means the instructor is engaged in the learning process with his or her students. I view teaching as something I practice just as others practice medicine or law. We are never "done" as an educator. First and foremost, good teachers care about their students and want them to have a meaningful learning experience. I also believe good teaching is challenging while provide adequate clarity and feedback to help students gain the necessary knowledge and skills. Finally, good teaching is engaging. When the instructor is passionate and enthusiastic about the subject, students are more likely to enjoy being in class and applying themselves to learn the concepts.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
In 2015, our undergraduate agricultural communications program was ranked as the #1 agricultural communications program in the nation. This was based on a study conducted at the University of Arkansas in which our peers were asked to rank programs.
This accomplishment was the result of many years of dedication and commitment to excellence from myself and my colleagues. It was rewarding to be recognized for providing a top-notch educational experience for our students. This also motivated us to begin thinking ahead and revitalizing our curriculum. While we reveled in the #1 ranking, we also knew the spotlight was on us and we are continuing our efforts to remain at the top.
How do you integrate research and outreach into teaching?
One of my primary research interests is the scholarship of teaching and learning. I view my classroom as a laboratory in which to try new teaching strategies and technologies to see what will work best. I listen to my students' feedback and use that information to create the most effective learning experience I can. A specific example of this is my work with service learning to create authentic, real-world learning opportunities for my students while addressing a need from the community partners.
Another recent example of this integration is my USDA grant funded project to develop multimedia case studies about agricultural topics. The creation of these case studies required a great deal of research to ensure we provided accurate information. We are also collecting student data to describe what impact these case studies have on knowledge, critical thinking styles, and willingness to communicate about the agricultural issues. The results of this effort have been shared at several research conferences in my discipline.
One other example is the research I have done regarding emerging media use in agriculture. I have shared the insights gained through research and professional development responsibilities with my students so they benefit from those experiences.
More About Courtney Meyers
Courtney Meyers, Ph.D., is an associate professor in agricultural communications at Texas Tech University and the graduate studies coordinator for the Agricultural Education & Communications Department. She joined Texas Tech in 2008 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Web design, public relations writing, and online media. She also serves the department's graduate studies coordinator and teaches a section of Raider Ready, the freshmen orientation seminar.
A recipient of the Texas Tech University Chancellor's Council Teaching Award, Meyers is a member of Texas Tech's Teaching Academy and has received a number of teaching awards at the college, university, and national levels. One of her recent teaching awards is the 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture's New Teacher Award, which is given to only two recipients nationwide each year. Her contributions as an educator are reflected in Texas Tech's recent distinction of ranking as the top undergraduate agricultural communications program in the nation.
Her research interests include exploring the use of emerging media in agricultural communications, media coverage of agricultural issues, agricultural science communication, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She has served as the Research Director for the Association for Communication Excellence and is currently the Poster Review and Submission Manager for the American Association for Agricultural Education. Her research has been recognized with awards at both the regional and national level in these associations. She has also received the Article of the Year award twice for the Journal of Applied Communications.
Meyers earned her B.S. from Kansas State University, M.S. from the University of Arkansas, and her Ph.D. from the University of Florida.