The Intergroup Communication Intervention: Bonding Through Technology


Since Spring 2013, Students enrolled in Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad's small group communication courses at BGSU have been conducting classes to help the older adults better understand tablets. Students produced manuals manuals and video tutorials for the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. For the third semester in a row, older adults have been learning how to use various kinds of technology as taught by BGSU students. The formal name of this ongoing project is the Intergenerational Communication Intervention (ICI), which was developed by Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad in partnership with leaders of the Wood County Committee on Aging (WCCOA).


The highlight of 2014 Spring Project was the first ever "graduation" celebration on April 16 held at WCCOA. The event was sponsored by the WCCOA and BGSU’s Office of Service Learning. Friends, family, and community members joined the student teachers and older adult students to celebrate accomplishments in learning more about each other, teaching, leading, and technology. More than 60 adults received their graduation certificates and the event was covered by the local media. See for example an article inThe Sentinel–Tribune titled Tech Savvy Seniors or NBC's coverage of the event. 

Drawing from the framework of Intergroup Contact Theory, the ICI facilitates a series of systematic and supportive interactions between younger and older adults meant to reduce negative attitudes between the generations, facilitate the development of positive interpersonal relationships, and build skills important to both generations. To measure the effectiveness of the project, Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad has been collecting surveys to gather feedback from both the BGSU and adult students. Pre- and post-test survey results from the classes have indicated statistically significant improvement in trust and communication apprehension of older adults toward younger adults as well as statistically significant improvement in the attitudes of younger adults about diversity, disabilities, and civic intentions.

Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad studies health and interpersonal communication specializing in community-based applied projects. Her research broadly concentrates on how communication affects personal, relational, and health ouMDIAes- e.g., examination of how dyadic/family communication facilitates health/illness management. She uses CBPR to develop and implement interpersonal and persuasion theory-based health campaigns and interventions, e.g., the Intergroup Communication Intervention, StandUp4YourBody, BGSleeps.

Interested in the class? Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad is teaching the class regularly in Spring and Fall semesters, check out BGSU schedule for this class.