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The Discourse of Disability in Communication Education

Narrative-Based Research for Social Change

Edited By Ahmet Atay and Mary Z. Ashlock

This book examines the ways in which communicative practices influence the lives of students and faculty with disabilities in higher education. Offering their own experiences as teachers and students, the authors use qualitative research methods, mainly narrative and autoethnography, to highlight the intersections among communication, disability, diversity, and critical communication pedagogy. While embodying and emphasizing these connections, each chapter defines the notion of disability from a different point of view; summarizes the relevant literature; provides suggestions for different ways of improving the experiences of people with disabilities in higher education; promotes social change; and in some cases, promotes policy change. Overall, the volume promotes more effective, mindful, honest, and caring interaction between able-bodied and disabled individuals.
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Chapter Eleven: Zero Degrees of Separation: Managing the Advisor Role as Student Demands Increase


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Zero Degrees OF Separation

Managing the Advisor Role as Student Demands Increase



I didn’t realize that life as a college professor was as involved as it actually is. Based on the life I knew as a graduate student, I thought I would teach classes and conduct research projects, publish articles based on those findings, rinse and repeat. When I would hear people speaking about academic service and faculty advising, I thought that meant service to residents and organizations in the city where I would be teaching. I thought advising meant guiding students as they embarked upon independent studies, master’s projects, and assisting me in my research.

I also didn’t realize that more and more students were coming to college with underdeveloped skills, diagnosed and undiagnosed disabilities, emotional challenges, special needs, and anxieties that severely affected their ability to be successful. They needed advising in areas that I was neither prepared to handle nor professionally trained to address. I also had no idea of the prevalence of this phenomenon. In my idealistic mind, I thought that most college students were fully academically and emotionally prepared for the rigors of higher education and primarily needed advisors to guide them through the curriculum and connect them with professional opportunities. I did not know how complex today’s students were and I did not understand how those...

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