Communication Connection

Friends of Com Newsletter

Department News

COM Dives into Applied Learning with ETEAL

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

By Ann Zima

UNCW is always looking for ways to improve the quality of education that students receive. One way they do that is with ETEAL. Many people don’t know, but our department is heavily involved with the campus wide initiative to create applied learning opportunities to students.

The biggest question people often have is “What is ETEAL?” ETEAL stands for Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning. Dr. Persuit gave some great insight to what exactly ETEAL is. “UNCW has to be reaccredited by SACSOC (Southern Association Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges), and they wanted us to come up with a plan to enhance the quality of education,” she explains. “Students, faculty, and staff voted and decided that applied learning is the best way to do that. ETEAL is a program that provides the resources to do applied learning. It provides grants to professors to give them the opportunity to give students applied learning.” So what exactly is applied learning? “Applied learning is taking a course and applying the knowledge and theory of the classroom and use it to empower students to solve problems, get involved in their community, and gain experience for when they graduate,” said Dr. Persuit.

Dr. Persuit and her Advertising II class experienced applied learning in spring of 2014 by helping ETEAL. The class is set up like an advertisement agency, with an account executive, creative director and account planner. They created an Instagram contest for ETEAL. Their goals were to understand the importance of applied learning and communicate to students how they could participate in applied learning. Once they decided to do an Instagram contest, they had to figure out a way to gather images, write up the rules for the contest, work with business services to get prizes, and much more. At the end of the semester, there was an awards ceremony in Hawk's Nest where they showed off the photos and revealed the winners for the contest.     

The Instagram contest was very successful. “We got 70 entries, 20 more than our goal. We got some great shots of study abroad trips, laboratory photos, regional photos and water photos. It was a good visual representation of the ETEAL experience,” gushed Dr. Persuit.

In this Adverting II class the students worked with a real-life client to help the client achieve their goals. Student work went beyond the classroom and impacted their community and students gained experience in working in a real advertising agency. However, it is not the only example of applied learning in the department of Communication Studies. Pier 601Creative, the department’s student run IMC firm is also an example of applied learning. Dr. Bolduc took two students to Swansea in spring 2015 in order to film a promotional video for the Swansea study abroad experience. Dr. Persuit’s Advertising I class runs the social media for ETEAL. Dr. Scott’s Storytellers go out into the community to perform at local schools. Professor Chin’s Public Relations II class works with real clients to provide them with a public relations plan for their business. These are just a few of the many examples of applied learning in our department. The opportunities are there, you just have to reach out and take them!

For more information on ETEAL visit their website: