Welcome to my home page!

Please take a look around to see what I’ve been up to lately. I try to keep current as much as I can, but for more timely communication you can find me on Twitter: @hjhether

Hope all is well with you!

Heading into the Home Stretch – Fall 2016

My name is Dr. Heather Hether and I am a faculty member in the Department of Communication at UC, Davis.

This term I’ve been teaching Health Communication (CMN 161) — and it’s been a wonderful course. Even though the course is taught in the evenings, my students show up, ready to engage. We’ve had a productive term discussing the major areas of health communication, including doctor-patient communication, health campaigns, media advocacy, health disparities, social marketing, crisis and risk communication, and more.

I’ve also been busy writing, working on a chapter for an upcoming digital pedagogy textbook — a topic I’m passionate about, and also writing a case study on a media advocacy campaign. More details to follow.

This term I also attended two conferences: the Public Relations Society of America conference in Indianapolis, as well as the National Communication Association conference in Philadelphia. At both conferences, I was able to share my work with colleagues and exchange ideas related to both research and teaching. They were great trips — although both were too quick!

I wish you all the best as we push toward the end of the term!


University of California, Davis – here I come!

Winter 2016 was a whirlwind of a semester, and the summer has no signs of slowing down. The big news, for me, is that I am moving to the University of California, Davis next week and will begin teaching in the Communication Department this fall, as described in this announcement.


At Davis, I will continue to teach courses related to public relations, health communication, and social media. Moreover, I will continue to conduct research in health-related public relations; in addition, I look forward to developing a research trajectory in digital pedagogy by examining how various technological platforms can be used to enhance both onsite, hybrid, and online learning.

These are exciting days and I will be sure to write more as I navigate through this transition and turn my attention toward developing a robust research agenda in pedagogical innovation.

I wish all my colleagues and students at University of the Pacific all the best. It’s been a wonderful, productive five years, and I look forward to keeping in touch!

Hope your summer is off to a good start!


Cultivating Internship Partners

Next weekend I’m heading to San Diego for Western States Communication Association’s annual conference. I’m looking forward to going and participating on a panel with several colleagues from other colleges to discuss internship programs.

At Pacific, I’ve assumed the role of internship coordinator for the Department of Communication. In this capacity, I’m working with both students and organizations alike to identify opportunities for students to apply what they’ve been learning in the classroom in a professional environment. I believe in the value of internships because of the opportunity they provide students to gain hands-on experience in a context that interests them. As much as I connect my course material to the “real-world” environment, there really is no substitute for first-hand experience.

Recently, we’ve had students intern with the San Joaquin District Attorney’s office (SJDA), the American Cancer Society (ACS), public relations firms, on-campus units, and more. We’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful organizational partners like these who are so supportive of our students. As we move forward, I’m particularly interested in identifying organizations — like the SJDA and ACS —  with whom we can develop long-term relationships where our students can contribute to the success of the organization and, in exchange, students gain valuable experience.

And this is the focus of my presentation at Western next week: how to develop collaborative partnerships to support students’ experiential learning. It’s an initiative I’m committed to and, as a department, we’ve made significant progress toward this end. I’m looking forward to sharing our experience at the conference and, with you, when I return.

Meanwhile, we had some great weather this past week:


A spring-time interlude.


Team-based learning – my new soap box

Last week I co-presented a “lunch and learn” seminar at our on-campus Center for Teaching and Learning on the topic of team-based learning. A small group of us had a good conversation about how this teaching method can be used to facilitate active learning in our courses. While I’m fairly new to this teaching method, I have become such an evangelist for it by taking every opportunity I can to speak about how I’ve applied it in my courses.

What I like most about this teaching method is how it energizes the classroom environment and shifts the dynamic away from students passively receiving knowledge to the application of such knowledge. There is a ton of information on the web about team-based learning (tbl) so I won’t describe it in too much detail here, except to say that this approach emphasizes student prep work at home, with class time shifting to first testing students’ comprehension of key concepts through “readiness assessment tests” followed by the bulk of class time focusing on application of concepts and ideas through, what is essentially, team-based problem solving.

This method works really well by requiring students to complete the assigned prep work at home and then reinforcing that acquired knowledge in the classroom through application. So, classroom time moves away from the instructor-led lecture to more of a “bottom-up” approach with students participating in discussion with me and their classmates about the decisions they made in solving the assigned problems.

For my part, I also really like the more spontaneous, “mini” lectures that arise from this class structure. Rather than preparing lengthy lecture notes, I use the learning objectives as a guide for what students should get out of the assigned material, and the assessment test and the application activities help inform me of the gaps in student learning. I can then address these gaps immediately and more “organicly” — i.e. in a more “off-the-cuff” explanation/lecture and discussion.

Team-based learning is really an innovative way for students to learn and I’m looking forward to deepening my knowledge of this method both through continued application of it, as well as  through future research studies in which I would like to examine more carefully the variables that may support, or hinder, its success application.

New Year’s resolution #1: post more!

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I am going to make at least one this year (better late than never!), which is to write at least one blog post per week.

In class we discuss how challenging it is for many organizations to keep “feeding” their social media platforms. It is difficult to allocate the resources to keep our social media platforms alive and humming. And, alas, I’ve fallen into the same conundrum of feeling like I do not have enough time to upkeep my own blog. However, there is so much going on and so much that I’d like to share with everyone interested in similar topics, that I’m going to make a much better effort this year to post more regularly. My goal will be one post a week. One suggestion I have (which I’m going to follow myself) is to allocate a specific amount of time, perhaps 20 minutes a week, to work on my blog. This way, I can avoid loosing track of time and spending way too much of it on social media rather than other priorities.

On another note, this week I am co-presenting a lunchtime seminar at Pacific’s Center for Teaching and Learning (located in the library) on the team-based learning instructional method. I have become such an evangelist for this method because I love how it energizes the classroom environment and encourages student participation, discussion, and knowledge application.

This semester I’ve already been applying some of the principles in two of my classes: Pacific Seminar 2 where it’s a wonderful structure to engage students in discussions about ethical decision-making; and COMM 25, our introductory communication course. I look forward to refining my application of this method throughout the semester.

Ready, set, go! See you next week.



Writing skills matter – even for your social life!

I have to share this Wall Street Journal article with my students on the importance of writing skills in the world of online dating:


Launching Tiger Domains Pilot Project

The big day is here! I’ve sent invitations to students enrolled in COMM 135 this fall semester to create a “domain of your own.” Students will use a web hosting service to create a web page for an organization of their choice.

I expect there will be a learning curve for both students and I as we navigate this new technological opportunity together. However, I believe this is how it works: we’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable as we try out new technology. I believe this will be a great learning experience and one that helps further develop students skills in both technology and effective communication.

Dog days of summer and digital pedagogy

It is seemingly the middle of summer, but as August arrives so, too, does preparation for next semester. I’m dusting off my blog and thinking fresh about digital pedagogy– or how to more effectively integrate digital tools to support student learning outcomes.

As part of Pacific’s commitment to pursuing innovative learning methods, I am participating in a pilot program in which we have access to a slew of new technology-based tools that we can integrate into one or a few classes over the next year. This year, I am looking forward to incorporating a digital assignment into Communication 135: Principles of Public Relations. While I’m still fine-tuning the assignment I think students will be excited to work with these new tools in the context of the course.

I’m also looking forward to developing a digital hub to support Communication students during their internships. I envision an online community where students can reflect, share experiences, and connect what they’ve learned in the classroom to their practical experience.

I hope you’re all enjoying the summer and I look forward to seeing you back on campus!

Final assignments

It’s great to be back home after a very productive and enlightening time at the National Communication Association’s annual conference in Chicago. I presented my social network analysis of the Twitter networks formed around California’s five largest HMOs, and the work was well-received.

Here are a few pics that  I managed to grab, in between running from one conference hotel to the other!


Chicago skyline


Art Institute of Chicago


S. Michigan Avenue – reminds me of NYC!

Meanwhile, after seeing the end of the semester in sight for so long, it’s odd that it’s finally here! So, here is a recap of the final assignments that are forthcoming. I’ve also uploaded another copy of the Twitter and extra credit assignments here.

1) Live Tweeting reflection with Storify. You should upload your Storify link to your blog by 5pm tomorrow, Tuesday, November 25. We discussed the details of this assignment last week in class. Remember, the point of it is to have you reflect on the experience of live tweeting. How did it go? What were the challenges and opportunities this tactic provided? What surprised you about it? Did you get any engagement from other Twitter users? What do you think you could have done better? What went great? Do you think this is a worthwhile tactic for an organization – why/why not? How does it support the best practices we’ve been discussing all semester?

2) Final papers and presentations. Final papers are due in class on Thursday, December 4. You should refer to the assignment sheet to make sure you are submitting everything that is required. Also, make sure to give me a hand-out of your PP slides.

Presentations should be 10-15 minutes long, and should essentially go through your final papers. On Tuesday, December 2, Megan, Mac, and Gitaine will present, and everyone else will present on Thursday. Therefore, we will have 2 shorter classes.

3) Extra credit. Extra credit assignments (optional) are due on Tuesday, December 9, 12pm, via email to me. More information is in the attached file.

3) Graduate students: Your final Arthur W. Page Case study is due December 12, 12pm. It need only include the case analysis and teaching note. PP is not required by 12/12, but is required for submission in January.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the time with your friends and family.