Professor hopes to raise enrollment with new techniques

Hilary Crisan

While fall classes are just beginning, some professors are already trying to fill lecture halls for their spring courses.

Richard Currie Smith, professor of anthropology at Kent State and Case Western Reserve, is using a new technique to entice students to join his classes after seeing low enrollment numbers in the past.

“When I saw my attendance was low for this class, I decided that maybe I should try to bump it up a bit,” Smith said. “I’ve worked for some high-tech companies. I’ve been a consultant for software companies, so I know a little bit about the high-tech world.”

He plans to use flyers and online advertisements to interest students in his spring 2014 Ecology and Semiotics course. Both the flyer and the advertisement will contain a QR code, or a quick response code.

Smith said, a student can scan the code using an app on their smart phone, and it will redirect them to a short video that explains semiotics, the study of signs and sign processes and a topic that will be covered in the class.

“I found that most students aren’t familiar with the term semiotics,” Smith said. “So what I did is I went on the Internet and found a video that would explain semiotics.”

If these techniques spread across campus, professors can use hyperlinks and videos to show students what their class is about, Smith said. This will make the students’ decision to enroll in their class easier, because the students can see and hear their professor ahead of time.

“With [], the numbers are so small, and a lot of times it’s extremes, and that’s not how life usually is,” Smith said.

He said he came up with the idea after seeing a QR Code on a bag of cherries at Costco. The code brought him to a video of a cherry farmer talking about how important it is for him to provide the freshest and best cherries to his consumer.

“Not only did we like the cherries, but now we’re going to go back [to Costco],” Smith said.

He said he hopes to have the same response from his QR code – piquing students’ interest and bringing them to the lectures.

“Even though we’re these modern creatures and we have this elaborate symbol system, and now we have all these virtual signs, we still are children of a primal past,” Smith said. “We have something within us, this ability to connect on a level that is not language-based, it’s based on interpretation of the body.”

Samantha Kramer, junior international business major, said she thinks the QR code is a great way to get to know professors before registering for their classes.

“I like the thought of being able to know who I’m going to be dealing with and what I’m going into,” Kramer said.

However, Shannon Langanke, junior French and Spanish translation major, does not think it’s necessary.

“I probably wouldn’t use it personally, but I can see why others would find it useful,” Langanke said. “It would be helpful to know what you expect.”

Hilary Crisan is the student affairs reporter for the Daily Kent Stater.