Kevin Jones, George Fox University – Mentoring At-Risk Students

Learning doesn’t always have to happen in the classroom.

Kevin Jones, professor of communication studies at George Fox University, discusses one way students get to use their skills and play a bigger role in society.

Kevin T. Jones has been teaching at the college level for more than 30 years and has served various communication organizations in a variety of ways. Kevin is the past president of the Religious Communication Association, the Northwest Communication Association, the Kentucky Forensics Association, and the Kentucky Communication Association. He is also the founder and past president of the National Christian College Forensics Association.

Kevin earned his BA in communication studies from Biola University, his MA in speech communication from the University of California at Fullerton, and his PhD in rhetoric and public address from Louisiana State University.

Kevin taught at Azusa Pacific University (Calif.) and Chapman University (Calif.) before coming to George Fox University in 2008. He teaches courses such as Public Speaking, Persuasion, Interpersonal Communication, Rhetorical Criticism, Small Group Communication, and Spiritual and Ethical Dimensions of Communication. Additionally, Kevin serves as the Department Internship Supervisor.

When not in the classroom, Kevin engages in research and scholarship about rhetoric and pop culture. His publication topics have ranged from the role of televised debates in the presidential election process, the September 11th Missing Person posters, the religious rhetoric of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign, and Muted Group Theory and the #MeToo movement. Kevin is currently involved in exploring communication skill deficiencies in at-risk middle school students and writing curriculum to address those deficiencies.

Kevin is an avid bicyclist and lives in Newberg with his wife Michelle and their four children. They attend and are involved in Newberg Christian Church.

Mentoring At-Risk Students

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In order to engage Communication Studies majors in a real-world application of what they have learned, partnering with a local public school to mentor at-risk students is an excellent opportunity for all involved.

At-risk students have been found to have communication skill deficiencies, which have been argued to possibly play a role in their at-risk status.  By raising communication skills, at-risk students may possess the tools needed to move out of the at-risk status.

Communication studies majors can be trained to administer a variety of communication skills tests to determine what specific deficiencies the at-risk students might have.  There are many tests to choose, ranging from communication apprehension (fear of public speaking) to interpersonal communication.

After communication studies majors are trained in a variety of tests, they can be paired with 2-3 at-risk students in either middle school or high school.  Based upon the test scores, the communication majors can assess what deficiencies the at-risk students have and then design a curriculum to address the specific needs identified.

By meeting once or twice a week during class time, the at-risk student can be taught a wide variety of communication skills such as how to better read nonverbal communication, presentation skills, image management tools, listening skills, how to show empathy, communicating in groups, or conflict management.

At the end of the one-on-one mentoring experience, the at-risk students can be retested using the same tests used before the mentoring took place.  The post-test scores generally show an improvement in the communication skills deficiencies.

Not only can the at-risk students benefit from a mentoring program like this, but the college student is forced to problem solve and address real world problems in a real-world setting using what they have learned over their college career.

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