As professor Robert Loy’s students trickle into his small group communication class, they are greeted with upbeat and colorful music playing from his laptop speaker.
The eclectic playlist includes music from diverse genres which he uses in his regular karaoke performances.
As a new full-time faculty member, Loy is the assistant director and advisor of the Pierce College Communications Association Club.
He uses unconventional teaching methods, such as playing music, to break up the dull and sometimes monotonous classroom setting. Through music he wants to create a student-made playlist to inspire diverse voices in his classroom to maintain an inclusive environment.
“I don’t think men and women, when they communicate, should be set in boxes,” Loy said.
“When women use a more masculine communication style they are seen as ‘bossy’ or ‘too direct,’ where when men act that way they are seen as a ‘leader’ and ‘amazing. I hate those contradictions and problematic perspectives.”
After entering class on a musical note, Loy has his students gather in a semicircle, so that every student is facing inwards, and feels included in the discussion. Each class discussion focuses on concepts such as inclusion, control and affection.
The open-ended conversation encourages students to participate in a way that allows them to share aspects of their personal lives and have their voices heard he said.
Yeprem Davoodian, Department Chair of Communication Studies has known Loy for six years from attending conferences together at California State University, Northridge. Davoodian describes his colleague as being kind-hearted, a good friend and having a great background in research.
“His background and experience with forensics and debate is different than what all of us have in our department. He has a lot of fresh ideas and is always looking at ways to improve his classroom,” Davoodian said.
While Loy’s father had been an alcoholic, he didn’t know that side of him because he has been in recovery for the better part of 30 years.
However, Loy took cues from his father’s communication style as he vividly remembers watching his father speak during AA meetings.
“I would see him make the crowd laugh and joke around. People really respected him. They would hug him, and it was awesome. I always saw my dad as a people person,” Loy said.
According to Loy, his teaching style is conversational, preferring to interact with his class, ask for their thoughts and listen with a compassionate ear.
“I think that helped me connect with him on a personal level because he makes it very easy for me to go to him when I’m having an issue, whether it’s homework, an assignment or just in general,” Stephanie Paz, communications major said.
In addition to taking inspiration from his father, Loy was raised in a household of strong women, including his mother, a housewife, two older and two younger sisters, who taught him how to respect and speak to women, Loy said.
“I’m inspired by my younger sister because she never really backs down from a fight or an argument, she is just like me. She always wanted to one-up me, and do the best for herself, and I never saw that as a challenge. It’s very motivating,” Loy said.