Areas of Specialization: Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication
Office: JO 4.602
Office Hours: Thursdays: 11:30-1:00
Mail Station: JO 31
Years ago, at a small, mid-west college, I was standing with others getting ready to attend my first speech class. It was a required course. We were shaking in our shoes because this course had a reputation—a history for flunking out freshmen. The class was demanding. It required solid research, creative design, tedious practice, and ongoing editing and experimentation. But I found that if I was willing to put in the work, presenting the information was incredibly satisfying and even exhilarating. That speaking experience still influences the way I teach today. It's my job to identify the steps for an effective speech, provide simple explanations, and give students a chance to practice. If I can do this, then giving a speech is a skill anyone can learn. Dr. Walter Lambert calls this the "bicycle concept"—we may start out shaky, but by the end of class we'll all be riding.
I teach COMM1311. This class covers three essential survival tools: public speaking, interpersonal communication, and team methods. My research interest is the art of scholarly teaching. I use research results, the best practices of others, and student feedback to make my instruction more relevant, challenging, and fun! My syllabus is constantly changing as I learn, edit, and create.
I like to give students every opportunity to do their best. If students are willing to invest in the course, I am willing to invest in them. I give extra credit to those who meet with me for individual consultations to review draft assignments. I like knowing the career goals of my students so I can suggest specific UTD opportunities that might help them develop relevant skills.
My greatest satisfaction comes from seeing my students achieve. I remember Sheena, who initially could not say a word in front of the class, but with some extra tutoring finished the class with an A. I remember John, who had panic attacks at the thought of giving a speech, but with help from a UTD SOAR advisor and extra practice sessions exceeded the class requirements. And I remember Calvin, an ex-vet, single parent, full-time employee, who won a speaking contest by sheer grit, determination, and long hours of practice. Calvin was the first in his family to ever win a competition. As they say in the commercials, "Priceless."
After working my way through grad school as a teaching assistant, I held an administrative position for the Austin Independent School District. I followed this with a long stint as a homeschool mom for my three sons. After that, I taught locally at Brookhaven College and Richland College before coming to UTD in 2014.
Recent Courses: View courses taught by Patricia Totusek
PhD, University of Texas at Austin in Speech Communication
MA, University of Texas at Austin, Speech Communication
BFA, Texas Christian University, Speech and English
Curriculum Vitae: Patricia Totusek's CV