Meet Our Advisor: Dennis Jerz

“Journalism is an imperfect human activity done by biased people who have bills to pay and passions that drive them,” said Dennis Jerz, Seton Hill associate professor and advisor of The Setonian. “If you believe that your organization is the only pure organization that exists you are approaching journalism from a perspective that I just don’t think is the most productive.” —Setonian Online

The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’

The discourse around “learning styles” (the idea that because some students prefer to learn visually, orally, kinesthetically, or through reading/writing, teachers should adapt their lesson plans to meet student preferences) has been useful to me in that it helped me to realize that some methods of instructions that seemed natural to me were actually choices I was making because I was familiar. But students who blame teachers for not respecting their “learning style” aren’t doing their education (or their teachers) any favors. I was introduced to “learning styles” early in my career, by a college administrator who was an evangelist…

AI-generated essays are nothing to worry about (opinion)

After reviewing 22 AI essays I asked my students to create, I can tell you confidently that AI-generated essays are nothing to worry about. The technology just isn’t there, and I doubt it will be anytime soon. […] The students in this class were mostly juniors and seniors, and many were majors in rhetoric and writing. They did great work, putting in a lot of effort. But, in the end, the essays they turned in were not good. If I had believed these were genuine student essays, the very best would have earned somewhere around a C or C-minus. They…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In June, 2002, I was blogging about… a female autistic scholars lament, Dr. Seuss, Orthodox Christianity and coding, Shakespeare, and weblogs after 9/11

In June, 2002, I was blogging about A female autistic scholar’s lament The origins of Horton Hears a Who A NatGeo article on the media-saturated life of Iowa college students The function of “er” in speech A Pravda article on parallels between Orthodox Christianity and computer programming Dr. Toast’s Amazing World of Toast (I really miss the Internet that contained such marvels.) The world has changed, but Shakespeare asked questions that are still worth asking.  How innocent we are were. In 2002 we were blogging about “A Writer’s Perspective on an Emerging Medium,” by which was meant electronic text. A…

Let’s Make the Academic Job Market More Humane

It’s been decades since I’ve had the “I’m in school again and I forgot to study for the test” nightmare, but it hasn’t been so long since I’ve had nightmares about the faculty job search. I did have one nightmare campus visit, where I was told I was one of six candidates brought to campus to interview for two positions, and that one of the other candidates was “unbeatable.” For my job talk I chose a topic related to the technical writing / media position I was applying for, and after it was over I saw the crowded room full…

Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive

When I used to teach a “Media and Culture” class, I had students do an oral project, a handwriting project, a typewriter/cut-and-paste project, and a digital project, and we spent quite a bit of time reading and talking about how the ways we read and write affect not only what we read and write about, but also how we conceptualize the world and our place in it. I do remember  a time about 16 years ago when I overheard a student in the hallway, during some good-natured teasing banter, saying to a colleague, “Email is for old people.” That was…

Reading fiction early in life is associated with a more complex worldview, study finds

This study relied in part on the repondents’ self-reporting of what they read as children, but it was a complex study that approached the core issue from multiple angles. The researchers note that an “association” is not a “cause” — yet the correlation is still worth reflecting on: Those people who did not read fiction in early life have a fundamentally different worldview than those who did. Research has demonstrated that people who read more fiction tend to have better perspective-taking abilities. Now, new research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that reading more fiction early in life is…

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Advice to First Year College Students on Freshman Comp

Full disclosure… I have marked AP English tests maybe a half dozen times. The pay is not great, but it’s good professional development because it helps me normalize my expectations. Having said that… One of the hallmarks of growing sophistication as a writer is seeing the idea you thought you were expressing change in front of your eyes as you are writing. This is high-level critical thinking. This kind of emergent rethinking is an experience that every college-level writer should be familiar with, and if it happens while drafting a response for the AP English Language and Composition exam, it…

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Can AI write good novels?

I expect that this is probably the year I’ll need to consider how my profession will change if students start relying on AI writing software. Like many people in my social media feed, this summer I’ve been playing a bit with AI image software, and thinking about how all the photographers and artists whose work is being sampled and remixed, without compensation or credit, to supply a commodity that serves someone else’s needs. “Julia was twenty-six years old… and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly…

Internet Explorer cheated its way to the top, and I won’t miss it

I started teaching myself HTML in earnest after I attended a crowded presentation at the Modern Language Association in the early 90s. Midway through his demonstration of what a mouse was, the speaker asked a crowd of hundreds who had used a graphical web browser (everyone raised their hands), and who had used the Internet in their teaching and research (everyone raised their hands), and who had coded a web page (I saw just three hands… one of which was mine). The most important thing I took away from that presentation was that I could have been standing up there…

Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen

Science writer Jon Horgan writes: We live in a world increasingly dominated by science. And that’s fine. I became a science writer because I think science is the most exciting, dynamic, consequential part of human culture, and I wanted to be a part of that. Also, I have two college-age kids, and I’d be thrilled if they pursued careers in science, engineering or medicine. I certainly want them to learn as much science and math as they can, because those skills can help you get a great job. But it is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now…

Advice for alternate pathways in journalism: re-entering the workforce after taking a break; transitioning to college teaching

A colleague put me in touch with an award-winning TV journalist who took some time off for eldercare, and is now having a rough time re-entering the profession. Here’s the advice I collected, which includes the wisdom of a former student who’s now a TV producer in Houston, and also draws on other sources I use when I teach career readiness classes for English majors.