Communication Students to Present Papers at Austin Conference April 7-10

April 4, 2016

Three OBU communication studies students were recently selected to present their research papers at the 86th Southern States Communication Association Conference (SSCA), in Austin, Texas, April 7-10. The conference features communication scholars from across the nation discussing developments in theory and research in the communication discipline.

The purpose of the SSCA is to promote the study, criticism, research, teaching and application of the artistic, humanistic and scientific principles of communication. SSCA, a not-for-profit organization, exists for educational, scientific and literary purposes only.

Meg Reeder, communication studies major from Shawnee; Lauren Ledbetter, communication studies minor from Ardmore; and Katherine Ward, communication studies and anthropology major from Irving, Texas, will represent OBU.

Reeder, Ledbetter and Ward are among an elite group of scholars from across the nation who earned recognition from the 26th Annual Theodore Clevenger, Jr. Undergraduate Honors Conference at this year’s SSCA Conference, themed “Communication and Conscience.”

Reeder and Ledbetter co-authored an original research project titled “The Birds, the Bees, and the Holy Ghost: A Study of Religious Sex Communication.” Reeder and Ledbetter will present their paper under the conference honors’ panel “Communication of Health, Body Image, and Sexuality.” Their study explored the relationship between religion, parent-adolescent sex communication, and sexual behavior. Data was obtained from a focus group of Southern Baptist youth ministers and a survey of 70 students at a private Southern Baptist liberal arts university.

The results of the study found the majority of adolescents to have overwhelmingly been educated about sex from sources other than their parents. The research found, while adolescents would prefer to be educated about sexual matters by their parents, most parents tend not to pursue conversations with their children about sex or healthy sexual practices. Therefore, extra-familial sources, though woefully inadequate educators, have the monopoly on information adolescents learn about sex.

Ward’s original research, “Museums in the Eyes of Children: Communicating Biblical Truth in the Museum Setting,” will be presented under the conference honors’ panel “Rhetorical Theory and Criticism: Meditations and Analyses.” This study assessed ways that designers could effectively communicate spiritual concepts to children and then translate those communication acts into a Bible museum exhibit geared towards their youngest patrons. Data was gathered via interviews with children’s ministers and experts in the field, a meta-analysis of seven museums in the United States, and an interview with a museum exhibit designer.

The results of the study found that children need to experience both the Bible and museum exhibits in an interactive atmosphere that engages all five senses. While the goal of this study specifically involves creating an engaging museum exhibit for children that highlights the importance of the Bible, the findings may also be helpful in other museum settings.

All three students conducted their research during the communication research course offered within the communication studies major.