Concentrated Area of Study:
Lesley A. Withers, professor of communication, received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Maine and her Ph.D. in communication science from the University of Connecticut. Her area of specialization is in nonverbal/emotional interpersonal communication and learning in virtual environments. She primarily teaches courses in interpersonal and nonverbal communication, communication in virtual environments, and courses in quantitative research methods at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her classes often include a service-learning component; in the past, her gender communication classes have raised thousands of dollars for domestic violence shelters in Michigan.
Dr. Withers' research interests are in the "dark side" of interpersonal communication (embarrassment, communication apprehension, deception) and in collaboration in virtual worlds (online support, teaching, and learning). Her research has been published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, the Western Journal of Communication, and Personality and Individual Differences and presented at the regional, national, and international levels. She's been interviewed about online anger and sharing secrets by CNN.com and about obscene gestures by National Public Radio (npr.org).
In election years, Dr. Withers analyzes the nonverbal communication styles of presidential and vice-presidential candidates. She has been interviewed by Mt. Pleasant's Morning Sun, the tri-cities' The Saginaw News, and WEYI's NewsCenter 25 Today television news program.
In addition to her teaching and research, Dr. Withers also serves as the graduate director for the Communication and Dramatic Arts department and as the faculty advisor to the Nu Sigma chapter of Lambda Pi Eta (the communication honor society).
Selected Publication and Presentations:
Leonard, L. G., Withers, L. A., & Sherblom, J. C. (2011). Collaborating virtually: Using Second Life® to teach collaboration. Communication Teacher, 25 (1), 63-68.
Leonard, L. G., Withers, L. A., & Sherblom, J. C. (2010). The paradox of computer-mediated communication and identity: Peril, promise, and Second Life®. In J. Park & E. Abels (Eds.), Interpersonal relations and social patterns in communication technology: Discourse norms, language structures and cultural variables (pp.1-17). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Withers, L. A., Leonard, L. G., & Sherblom, J. C. (2010). Classrooms without walls: Teaching together in Second Life®. In L. Shedletsky & J. E. Aitken (Eds.), Cases on online discussion and interaction: Experiences and outcomes (pp. 88-104). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Sherblom, J. C., Withers, L. A., & Leonard, L. G. (2009). Communication challenges and opportunities for educators using Second Life®. In C. Wankel & J. Kingsley (Eds.), Higher education in virtual worlds: Teaching and learning in Second Life® (pp. 29-46). Bingley, UK: Emerald.
Withers, L. A., & Vernon, L. L. (2006). To err is human: Embarrassment, attachment, and communication apprehension. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 99-110.
VanLear, C. A., Sheehan, M. A., Withers, L. A., & Walker, R. A. (2005). AA online: The enactment of computer mediated social support. Western Journal of Communication, 69 (1), 5-26.
Honors, Awards, and Distinctions:
A Top Three Competitive Paper Award for "Service-learning in prison facilities: Contact and interaction as sources of changes in stereotypes," Experiential Learning in Communication Division, National Communication Association, November 2007.
The Lorrie Ryan Memorial Excellence in Teaching Award, Central Michigan University, 2006-2007.
Excellence in Teaching Award, Central Michigan University, 2006-2007.
The B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Article Award for "AA online: The enactment of computer mediated social support," Western States Communication Association, February 2006.
A Top Three Competitive Paper Award for "AA online: The enactment of computer mediated social support," Small Group Communication Division, National Communication Association, November 2002.
A Top Three Competitive Paper Award for "Now that's embarrassing! But why? A comparison of embarrassment typologies," Interpersonal and Organizational Communication Division, Eastern Communication Association, April 1998.