Dr. April DuPree Taylor

April TaylorIn August, Dr. April DuPree Taylor will complete her twenty-first year as a faculty member in the College of Arts & Sciences. An Assistant Professor of Communication, DuPree Taylor earned her Ph.D. from the University of South Alabama in 2011 in Instructional Design. She earned her M.S. degree in Communication in 1998 from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). She is the Department of Communication supervisor for Public Speaking courses.

DuPree Taylor loves to teach General Education Public Speaking courses. These classes are largely populated by freshman; so, DuPree-Taylor gets to work closely with new students and is one of the first faculty members that many students associate with the University. According to DuPree Taylor, her goal is to equip freshmen with “tools they will need to be confident speakers in the other classes they take.”

The positive experiences DuPree Taylor had as a Teaching Assistant while earning her M.S. degree were instrumental in her choice of a career in higher education. She says her professor, Dr. Susan Siltanen, encouraged her in this direction and told her in 1998 about the open position in Communication at USA. If she had not become a professor, DuPree Taylor says she would have pursued a law degree to become a Civil Rights attorney.

DuPree Taylor has always been interested in how best to teach public speaking. A decade ago, the Department of Communication revised its approach, shifting instruction in public speaking from traditional class meetings to an online course format, and DuPree Taylor was actively involved in this pedagogical innovation. Much more recently, the Department of Communication switched about half of its sections from the redesigned online format to the traditional class meeting format. According to DuPree Taylor, “While we have found many advantages to the [online] re-design, I have found that technology, combined with significant face-to-face interaction, is the most effective way for me to teach the class.”

It is not surprising that many students get anxious when they have to speak in public. One possible way to try to diminish nervousness is to create opportunities for audience involvement during speeches. According to DuPree Taylor, “Audiences are eager to be involved with presentations by ‘doing something’ while listening. Programs like Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, and TallySpace are examples of platforms speakers are choosing to use to engage audiences.” DuPree Taylor says she would like to evaluate such programs in USA Public Speaking classes to determine if they can help student speakers to become more comfortable.

When she is not in the classroom or fulfilling duties as supervisor of Public Speaking courses, DuPree Taylor enjoys family time with her husband and two children. She also likes to read and visit family in Mississippi and enjoys watching television shows such as This is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away with Murder. In addition, she is active in community engagement, helping with political campaigns, cancer awareness events, coastal cleanup, and disaster relief following hurricanes.