New professor Maura Snyder details communications and student engagement
By: Sydney Umstead, News Editor
Small class sizes at Canisius have brought new communications professor Dr. Maura Snyder to Canisius University. Snyder hails from Pittsburgh, PA and has devoted her time to teaching and studying strategic communication.
Snyder began her role as a communications professor at Canisius in the fall 2023 semester. Since then, she has focused on student engagement in her classes.
Following Snyder’s time at graduate school, where she had taught roughly 150 students while working as a teacher’s assistant, it became clear to her that more one-on-one classes were a better fit. She stated that, during those classes, she had only known a few students “just by the ones who came to talk to me.”
The size of Canisius and its classes provide an opportunity for Snyder to expand her knowledge of her students’ personalities and their progress, noting that one of her favorite parts of working at Canisius is the opportunity to “know my students.”
Every day, Snyder begins class with “a silly question of the day,” and she has even offered students a questionnaire where they responded with rave reviews of the questions. She stated it “feels really good to be back in a place where I know who my students are.”
Small group discussions are a key component in Snyder’s classes, as she then has students break off into groups where “they’ve been bringing up a lot of really good points.”
Snyder stated, “I spend a lot of time reviewing whatever the major theories are that we are discussing, and then I think about how my students can actually apply it to their daily lives.”
As a future career for a communications student may deal with content creation, one of the practices embedded in the class is asking what will peak the audience’s interest. Snyder addresses this in her classes: “Once you understand what the research says, you can really apply it in a way that then you can really make your audience do what you want them to do.”
Media has grown exponentially since the creation of social platforms. Snyder views this impact as something to continue to learn about. She explained, “Media is so pervasive, and there’s no reason to try to run away from it or not find the best tools within media to better our lives.” She also went on to say, “The way I approach it is just like ‘This is gonna be here in some way forever, so let’s try to figure out the best way to utilize it.’”
Throughout the past year, the topic of AI has been at the forefront of many digital conversations. For Snyder, there is a sense of openness rather than fear, as she said, “There is no media research without the human element of it.” Continuing on that point, she stated that AI “hasn’t necessarily plateaued yet,” and she is interested to see “the plateau where this is about as advanced as it will be in some ways, and we can start to figure out the expectations for it.”
Snyder discussed how welcoming the Canisius community was, and she expressed her excitement about the upcoming semesters with the institution and having the ability to get to know more and more students.