Communication Department Brings in NCA Top Paper Awards

Assistant Professors Elizabeth Dorrance Hall (left) and Allison Eden.

Assistant Professors in the Department of Communication, Allison Eden and Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, have been awarded Top Paper Awards from the National Communication Association (NCA). Eden’s work concerns decision making in the context of viewing entertainment, while Hall looked at the acculturation of American and Chinese students at universities.

“These two divisional Top Paper Awards reflect some really outstanding work by Elizabeth’s and Allison’s respective teams,” said Jim Dearing, the department’s chairperson.

Game Studies

Eden’s paper, “Consistent Killers or Benevolent Balancers? Sequential Moral Decision Making in a Video Game Context,” won the Top Paper Award in the Game Studies Division.

“It is always very rewarding to be recognized for the work we have done,” said Eden. “As researchers, often we don’t see public recognition of our work until months or years after we have collected the data and written the paper, so it is nice to be rewarded midway through the process at a conference of our peers.”

In a broad sense, Eden’s work examines how choices in a game build upon one another. So if one were to choose choice A over choice B now, how does that choice affect subsequent decisions later in the game? Though they have found that there are some specific links between choices, the research is still underway.

“I am interested in media entertainment because we spend so much time with it and it’s such a huge part of people’s lives, but we often neglect or don’t understand the ways it can be affecting our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes,” said Eden.

Intercultural Communication

Hall’s paper, “The Effect of Seeking Advice and Advice Quality on College Adjustment for U.S. and Chinese First-Year Students: An Intergroup and Acculturative Approach,” won the Top Paper Award in the International and Intercultural Communication Division.

“Receiving a top paper award is an honor,” said Hall. “It validates the hard work that goes into writing papers that have something extra about them. Presentations on top paper panels usually move theory forward, recruit a hard-to-reach sample, tackle a pressing social problem or push the envelope in other ways.”

Hall’s paper focused on the differences between U.S. domestic college students and Chinese international college students studying at American colleges. The research team wanted to know whether these two groups of students sought advice from different groups of students and whether they perceived that advice differently based on group membership. They also wanted to know whether these advice factors impacted the students’ ability to adjust to college during their freshman year.

“We found that all students sought advice more frequently from ingroup than outgroup friends and evaluated advice from in-group friends as higher quality,” said Hall. “Chinese students who received high quality advice from both ingroup (other Chinese students) and outgroup (U.S.-born students) had better adjustment to college.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets