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November Communication Faculty Highlight: Dr. Samuel Hardman Taylor

1. Describe your teaching values. What teaching beliefs or strategies do you draw on to create a learning environment that is diverse, inclusive and accessible for your students?

Working with students brings me joy, my teaching and mentorship goal is to generate cultivate critical thinking, application of knowledge, and personal growth in students. To achieve my goal, my first priority is to set a classroom culture that gives the students space to voice their opinions, thoughts, and perspectives. I am strategic in developing my courses so that students can pursue their own interests as well as providing them opportunities to self-reflect on their own learning and growth over the semester. Ultimately, I hope to create a learning culture of flexibility and kindness that gives the students space to think, apply, and grow inside and outside of the classroom.

2. Tell us about your research interests! Feel free to share any relevant links to websites or CVs if you have them.

My research investigates the effects of communication technologies on personal relationships and well-being. This research spans from investigations how living in an always online, always available society affects marriage to how algorithm literacy predicts the rules parents make about their teen’s use of TikTok.

3. Any recent conferences attended? Any publications you’d like to shout out?

My most exciting recent publication is definitely my Lonely Algorithms project. Social media companies--over and over and over--claim that they design their recommendation algorithms to promote meaningful interactions, empathy, and social connection. In this project I question “Can social companies, like Instagram or TikTok, actually tweak the code of their algorithms to make us feel more socially connected?” The answer is kind of but also mostly not. The paper is available at at the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

4. What are you excited for in the future regarding Communication at UIC?

UIC’s Department of Communication has an exciting opportunity to lead in areas of generative A.I., robotics, and big data. These topics will matter a great deal for our students because they have implication for careers, national and international politics, and even family relationships. I look forward to working with our students to think critically and imaginatively about the future that awaits.

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