Todd Jenks

Senior Lecturer
Office:349 Carver
411 Morrill Rd
Ames IA
“I feel like I’m making a difference when I can help a student who is struggling academically to keep their chin up, to encourage them to keep at it even when they are really discouraged.”
Courses Taught
Primary Courses I Teach at ISU
ComSt 310 Intercultural Communication
ComSt 313 Leadership Communication Theories
ComSt 317 Small Group Communication
ComSt 101 Introduction to Communication Studies (summer term)

Other Courses I Have Taught
ComSt 102 Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
ComSt 214 Professional Communication
ComSt 218 Conflict Management
ComSt 301 Human Communication Theory
ComSt 311 Relational Communication
ComSt 314 Organizational Communication
ComSt 330 Computer Mediated Communication
ComSt 404 Senior Seminar
ComSt 450 Special Topics in Communication Studies
ComSt 490 Independent Study
Courses in other programs: Introduction to Film Studies, Introduction to Public Speaking, Advanced Public Speaking, Leadership Ethics, Managing Diversity.
PhD, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, School of Communication Studies, Department of Interpersonal Communication
MDiv, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana
BA, Concordia University, St. Paul, MN – Communication Studies and Sociology
I believe in challenging students to give their very best. Just as we expect our athletes to “leave it all on the field” or “leave it all on the court,” so too do I encourage students to give their best efforts in their academics. However, although learning requires effort, I believe that learning should be intriguing and fun. Often I bring in stories from my years of serving in for-profit and nonprofit organizations across the country. One of my students’ favorite activities is to hear my personal stories that connect to the subject matter at hand. I have worked in jobs that range from DJ to bank teller, and from head custodian to pastor. I have communication examples from these fields and many more. Students can easily relate to the personal stories and examples that connect to the concepts we are covering.

I strive to maintain student interest by having variety in teaching methodologies. Different class sessions have different structures. Some periods we have student debates on communication issues for which there are divergent views, or debates on current topics that relate to our subject matter. Some periods we take specific theories and analyze strengths and weaknesses of each. Some days we analyze video clips that reflect specific communication concepts we are exploring. Some class sessions we use “field observation” activities in which students leave the classroom to observe communication phenomena, looking for specific behaviors we are discussing and then returning to the classroom with examples to discuss and assess. Students can expect these techniques plus many others as well.

By working for variety across class periods, students are kept more actively focused on their learning. My use of student participation across a broad spectrum of learning activities helps students absorb and apply the concepts and theories we are covering. If you like predictability and the same format every day, my classes may not resonate with you. However, if you believe learning should be an adventure and you truly want to enjoy your adventure at Iowa State, my class may be just the right place.
How I Came to Communication Studies
I have been interested in communication for as long as I can remember. As a high school student, my interest was in radio broadcasting. I started a small radio station in my upstairs room, with my brothers in the basement phoning up their requests and vehicles passing through on our street experiencing interference on their radios. When I started college I believed I would be continuing down a career path in the field of radio broadcasting. However, as I discovered more communication courses, my communication interests broadened significantly. There wasn’t a single area of communication that didn’t fascinate me! I realized that I needed to become a Communication Studies specialist rather than having one single communication focus. In my undergraduate communication degree I took many of the courses we offer in our program at Iowa State, from interpersonal communication to small group communication. I even had a class titled Psychology of Communication, little knowing I would one day be teaching Communication as a member of the Psychology Department at Iowa State University.

Having completed my undergraduate work in Communication Studies, I eventually went on to graduate school, where I could earn my PhD at a School of Communication Studies that covered many areas of our discipline. Along the way, my work and my academics both had me involved in practicing and studying communication in intercultural contexts. In North Dakota, where I was born and raised, I worked with Native Americans in the Badlands, where I had my summer job. In St. Paul, Minnesota, where I earned my undergraduate degree, I became a tutor to the large number of Hmong students attending the university with me. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, I had the privilege of working at a bank where many of my colleagues and most of my customers were of a different race than me. In Bowling Green, I worked with a Chinese fellowship program where I was the local liaison for a leadership team of visiting scholars, students and guests from China. These experiences and many more helped shape and explore my interest in intercultural communication. I have taught intercultural communication for 15 years now, starting in Florida and continuing in Iowa. This interest is, in fact, what led me to Iowa State. The Communication Studies program had a need for someone to teach intercultural communication, which was the primary class I taught in Florida before moving to Ames.
Outside the University
I am a big movie fan. Every year I can’t wait for summer, when you can find me at the cinema watching a new film each week (after all, summer is peak season for films to be released). I also love to watch Major League Baseball, generally supporting whichever team is the underdog. I enjoy jogging, eating popcorn, spending time with my wife and sons, and keeping in touch with my daughter who is away at college. Most of all, my faith is a big part of my life. I love the people in the congregation I serve and am so blessed to have the opportunity to know them and work with them.