It's 12 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon at Shilling Hall and Dr. Amy Delaney, assistant professor of communication, is in a round table discussion with students talking about the impact of persuasive appeals in commercial campaigns; everything from Doritos to Folgers.
Delaney is one of several new faces within the faculty at Millikin University. Her teachings are helping students see connections between communication theory and research in their everyday conversations and relationships.
"When I started at Millikin I became very excited about Performance Learning," Delaney said. "I've always integrated application into my teaching philosophy so I think a lot about how I can help my students learn what they need to know, but also do something with what they know. That's the core of Performance Learning to me."
Delaney is currently teaching courses in interpersonal and family communication, health communication and several courses for students studying public relations.
"The students are engaged in their coursework and the smaller class size makes a big difference," Delaney said. "My primary focus is in interpersonal communication. I'm interested in how we communicate on a one-on-one basis. Specifically, I'm interested in romantic relationships and how we navigate the trials and tribulations of our romantic partnerships."
Delaney's research focuses on the interpersonal dynamics of couples and families as they encounter challenging health situations, such as depression or cancer. Her dissertation looked at how depression affects romantic couples, particularly in their sexual partnership.
The Peoria native earned her bachelor's and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016. Delaney's bachelor's degree focused on organizational communication, and it was during her post-graduate studies when she struck an interest in interpersonal and health communication.
I think it's enriching for the students to have links between what they're doing in the classroom and practical experiences.
This semester, Delaney's campaigns course is collaborating with students from the Millikin School of Nursing, and Crossing Healthcare in Decatur, Ill., on an evidence-based project where the students will explore data related to health behavior indicators. The students will design social media campaigns aimed at improving health behaviors, health literacy and the health outcomes of Crossing Healthcare's enrolled population.
"I'm also very interested in provider patient communication and how we can help physicians and other healthcare professionals help their patients better," Delaney says. "I think it would be great for students to develop some sort of training module to improve interpersonal communication in healthcare settings."
Delaney has presented research at several national conferences and has been published in Communication Monographs, Health Communication and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Delaney notes that Millikin's Communication Department is anticipating the opportunity to add a focus in health communication. Currently, the department offers a General Studies option, Media Studies concentration, Organizational Communication concentration and Public Relations concentration.
"We'd like to offer a concentration in health communication because it could lead students to jobs in the healthcare field," Delaney said. "We've also talked about adding a health communication certificate that students from other majors could take."
In reference to Performance Learning at Millikin, Delaney says, "It's nice to be in a climate where hands-on learning is encouraged, and there are lots of opportunities. I think it's enriching for the students to have links between what they're doing in the classroom and practical experiences."
For updates on Dr. Delaney's research and coursework, follow her on Twitter: @ProfAmyDelaney.