PR prof. has unique

By on April 2, 2008

Betsy Rosenblum has a different approach to teaching. She doesn’t just lecture.

“My style is liberal, spontaneous and interactive,” said Rosenblum, adjunct professor of public relations. She likes her students to be involved in the class discussions.

When students enter her classroom, Rosenblum is standing in the front of the room with her red, curly hair, oval glasses and friendly smile. She closes the door when class is about to start and begins every class by asking, “What’s new?”

Interaction in the classroom means students speaking out.

Rosenblum said she began her college education as a history major and then ended up as a social work major. “I didn’t want to be in any position where I would have to present information to a group of people at that time. Strange isn’t it?” she said with a laugh.

Who would have thought that a teacher who stands in front of a class full of students would despise public speaking?

Adjusting her glasses, Rosenblum explained how public speaking is hated by most people in general, and students especially.

“I think that speaking in front of class is important. This is how we learn to communicate on a professional level; by speaking, responding to feedback and furthering oral skills,” she said.

Rosenblum has her students state their ideas and opinions in the class discussions. This style of teaching takes a lot more effort than lecturing. She makes it a point to have a discussion among the students in every class.

She said students learn twice as much with a discussion because they get to participate and freely express their opinions.

“I’d like for students to learn about the power of an open mind, the ability to critically listen and critically think,” Rosenblum said.

Most students do not like the idea of public speaking because they are afraid of being embarrassed.

Rosenblum relates to her students and makes the classroom a relaxed environment for them. She believes that feeling comfortable encourages students to want to share their thoughts.

Rosenblum’s relaxed presence puts students at ease in her class. She is uncritical and doesn’t judge anyone. She welcomes new opinions so other students can learn from them.

She creates a safe environment in which students are respectful listeners, and the person speaking can feel comfortable. Fear holds many students back from adding their opinion to conversations. Rosenblum said she wants her students to feel self-assured when they enter her classroom.

Rosenblum believes that lectures are necessary because students need to learn the information to be involved in active discussions.

The best way to learn is to learn from others. Hearing other opinions and thoughts helps students create their own ideas.

It also allows students to think outside of their box and produce a larger awareness of the topic being discussed, she said.

“I’ve had feedback that supports my opinion that discussion is an excellent tool for learning. I’ve seen this in better grades and from student evaluations,” Rosenblum said.

“I encourage students to state their thoughts and opinions. An opinion is an opinion, it is not right or wrong. It is simply what an individual thinks, and students need to know that is O.K.,” Rosenblum said smiling.


About Karrah Winans