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Karla Hunter

Karla Hunter



Office Building

Pugsley Center



Mailing Address

Pugsley Cont Ed Center 115
School of Communication & Journalism-Box 2218
University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


My scholarly mission is to enhance equitability of opportunities through “Interpersonal Voice Pedagogy,” teaching 21st Century Skills to foster development of agency, empowerment, and resilience, especially for underserved populations. Some of my more recent endeavors have explored the interpersonal voice construct in areas of neurodiversity and mental resilience.

Professional Bio:
Karla Larson Hunter (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2000) works to empower students, professionals, and community leaders, helping them build and enhance their sense of interpersonal voice. Her work tests and disseminates evidence-based strategies and exercises for overcoming communication anxiety, increasing communication competence, and optimizing listening, teamwork strategies, and conflict management skills. Her passion for fostering excellence and satisfaction in communication, relationships, and leadership is evidenced in the workshops, trainings, and/or consultations she has provided for organizations including the United States Department of Defense, Avera-McKennan hospital, the Martin Group, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the Mrs. South Dakota organization. She has been recognized for mastery in online teaching by South Dakota State University where she serves as an Associate Professor, and several of her works have received awards from the National Communication Association (NCA) and the Central States Communication Association (CSCA). Among them, she and her colleagues were awarded Top Article of the Year by NCA's Communication Anxiety and Competence Division in 2014, and she served as founding editor of Discourse: The Journal of the Speech Communication Association of South Dakota, which received CSCA’s top state journal award in 2015 for its premier volume.


Hunter Vita 2016 ( 3 page).pdf(230.45 KB)


Ph.D., 2000 University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, Communication Studies
M.A., 1995 University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, Communication Studies
B.A., 1992 Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, Mass Communication

Academic Interests/Expertise

My current program of research synthesizes and builds upon the work my colleagues Drs. Haleta and Westwick and I have been disseminating--the results of our research assessing the impacts of communication education. This work began in Spring 2010 with assessment of our basic communication course’s impacts on students’ public speaking anxiety (PSA). Since that time, we have studied how this course and overall communication education enhances students’ communication by studying correlations among five different quantitative communication variables in both face-to-face and online contexts (Hunter, Westwick & Haleta, 2014a; Hunter, Westwick & Haleta, 2015; Westwick, Hunter & Haleta, 2015; Westwick, Hunter, & Haleta, 2016). We have also begun grounded work toward establishing a new theory of public speaking self-concept (Hunter, Westwick, & Haleta, 2014b).

Academic Responsibilities

Teaching is my primary responsibility at SDSU and, as a generalist, I have enjoyed teaching a number of courses as needed within my department and to continue to develop online courses as well as to strengthen and validate online enhancements for face-to-face courses.

Committee Activities

SERVICE (Selected Examples)
• Assessment Sub-Committee of Academic Affairs Committee, College Representative (2018-present)
• Steering Committee for Quality Assurance, Higher Learning Commission Reaccreditation (2014-2020)
• Speech Communication Association of South Dakota, State Executive Committee, (2013-15)
• South Dakota Humanities Council, Scholar (2016-present)
• National Communication Association: National Advisory Board Member for Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honors Association (2018-2020); Nominating Committee Basic Course Division (2017-18; 2013-14)
• Central States Communication Association, Basic Course Division Chair (2016-17); Vice-Chair (2015-16); Secretary (2014-15)

Specialty Area

  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Communication Education Assessment
  • Social Influence/Political Communication
  • Sociology of Humor

Awards and Honors

Expanding the Circle Stipend, Awarded for designing and providing higher education opportunities for faculty members at Tribal Colleges and Universities, South Dakota State University, 2018
Joyce Lampson Award for Excellence in Faculty Citizenship, SDSU Communication Studies Dept., 2017

Editor, Outstanding State Journal of the Year, Central States Communication Association, 2014

National Communication Association, Top Journal Article of the Year, 2014 (Communication Apprehension and Competence Division); Top Paper Panels, 2014, 2016
Central States Communication Association, Top Paper Panels, 2012, 2013 and 2014; Top States’ Advisory Panel, 2014; Douglas M. Trank Top Paper of the Year Award, Basic Course Division, 2016
Daschle Research Fellow, South Dakota State University, 2011


I am currently honored to be involved with the following grant projects:

1. Development of the Social Media Analysis, Research and Teaching (SMART) Center. Britt, B., Britt, R., Hunter, K. (Co-PI), & Lucchesi, R. (with Carlile, A.). (in progress during evaluation period). South Dakota State University Funds for Scholarly Excellence, Establishment of a Center/Institute, 2016-2017 ($4000 awarded). Task Force comprised of faculty from SDSU Journalism and Mass Communication and Communication Studies Departments, Appointed by College of Arts & Sciences Dean Dennis Papini to research and pursue funding opportunities to launch a social media lab on SDSU campus. This grant was sought to provide a common Center for the two departments to establish a strong history of collaboration. This history will aid the task force’s subsequent application for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant (see item 2 below).

2. Presently untitled project—work toward launching South Dakota’s premier social media lab. Britt, B., Britt, R., Hunter, K. (Co-PI), & Lucchesi, R. (with Carlile, A.). (in progress during evaluation period). National Science Foundation (planned request $200,000 to $300,000). Continuation of collaboration with faculty from SDSU Journalism and Mass Communication Department described in item 1 (see above).

3. A national-level assessment of core competencies in the basic communication course. Broeckelman-Post, M., Anderson, L. B., Wolvin, A. D., Hosek, A. M., Simonds, C., Hunter, K. (Co-PI), Ruiz-Mesa, K., & Brazeal, L. (with Hooker, J., & Westwick, J.). (in progress during evaluation period). National Communication Association Advancing the Discipline Grant ($5000 awarded). Invited collaboration with leading, nationally-renowned Communication Education Scholarship of Teaching and Learning scholars from George Mason University, University of Maryland, Ohio University, Illinois State University, South Dakota State University, Cal State-LA, and Missouri State University)

4. Assessing communication education's impact on Native American students' sense of voice across cultural contexts. Hunter, K. (PI) (2016). Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society research grant program ($8,741 requested—while this project was not funded in 2016 after a double-review process of “an unprecedented number of applications,” I was invited to resubmit for 2017 after clarifying project outcomes and making a stronger connection between project outcomes and Institute goals.).

In addition, I have also received the following grants and stipends for the projects described below:
• Learn & Serve America mini-grant through the Midwest Consortium for Service Learning in Higher Education ($1000 for Camelot: Impact Lives project, January-May, 2010)
• Avera Health ($2000 stipend for survey research analysis; April-August, 2012)
• South Dakota Humanities Council speakers’ bureau grants ($650 for Spring 2013 Women’s Health Conference; $1000 for Spring 2014 Communication Connections Conference)
• SDSU Foundation Women And Giving ($2000 grant for Spring 2012 Women in Politics Conference; $200 grant for Spring 2013 Women’s Health Conference)
• American Association of University Women ($750 grant for Spring 2012 Women in Politics Conference)
• SDSU Student Association/University Program Council/Speakers Bureau funding ($5200 for Spring 2014 Communication Connections conference)
• Willert Chiropractic ($100 grants each for Spring 2012 Women in Politics Conference; and for Spring 2013 Women’s Health Conference)

I have also received several small grants internal to SDSU including two $2500 grants for Undergraduate Research (each included $1000 stipend plus student travel expenses) and multiple Scholarly Excellence Fund applications for scholarly dissemination.

Area(s) of Research

In addition to my own research and that with my colleagues, I see it as one of my research responsibilities to impact and continue to advance our discipline is through a continued commitment to mentorship of graduate and undergraduate researchers. I use my scholarship to illuminate the research process for independent study students, and to equip and inspire potential researchers, per our College of Arts and Sciences’ Strategic Goal 1, subpoint b: Involve students with faculty to expand excellence in scholarly and creative works. I have mentored several publications for SDSU's Journal of Undergraduate Research, and three undergraduate poster presentations in the CSCA President’s Undergraduate Honors Competition, the most recent winning the Top Poster Award.

Applications of Research

My collaborative work on the Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA) Reduction and Competence Assessment Project strongly evidences that my scholarship has advanced and continues to advance the communication discipline. The clearest evidence of this impact is the fact that one of our articles is listed as a resource for assessing learning on the National Communication Association webpage (Hunter, Westwick, & Haleta, 2014a). Public speaking anxiety is the most common form of communication apprehension, experienced to some degree by nearly everyone, but some experience it to such a distressing extent that it interferes with their personal and career success. Therefore, the purpose for this project is three-fold: 1) large-scale assessment of our department’s multi-section, standardized basic public speaking course, 2) dissemination of our findings to aid communication departments who remain intimidated by the fundamentally important activity of program assessment, and, foundationally, 3) to help students overcome their fear of public speaking. Our findings show that our department’s legacy of adherence to a systematic approach to course design containing proven fear- reducing interventions decreases our students’ PSA by an average of ten percent during the course of a single semester.


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