Professor Caplan earned a PhD in interpersonal
communication from Purdue University in 2000 and an MA from the
University of Delaware in 1995. He joined the University of Delaware
faculty in 1999. In 2006, he received the University of Delaware Faculty
Senate Excellence in Teaching Award.
He is currently a member of the Editoral Board for Human Communication Research, Communication Research, and the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.
Click here for Dr. Caplan's Google Scholar Profile Page
My interest in Internet use and
well-being began after reading anecdotal and empirical reports
suggesting that people who reported that their Internet use resulted in
negative life outcomes were especially drawn to the interpersonal uses of the Internet (e.g., chat rooms, instant messaging, message board systems, and online social networks).
Additionally, some literature suggested that people who were lonely,
depressed, and socially anxious were more likely than healthier
individuals to engage in problematic Internet use. I wanted to know why.
Thus, I have been in the process of developing a detailed theoretical
model that seeks to explain why interpersonal aspects of Internet
behavior are associated with people’s psychosocial health. My research
program entails applying prior research on face-to-face communication
(e.g., literature on loneliness, social anxiety, impression-formation,
social skills) to the new forms of computer-mediated communication in
order to understand how these media might foster problematic Internet
use. Most recently, I have begun to collaborate with several colleagues
on projects related to other interpersonal online phenomena such as
online multiplayer gaming, impression formation online, and online
Teaching Philosophy & Goals My
interest in the relationship between communicative phenomena and
well-being influences both my research and my teaching. In teaching, I
strive to help students apply the findings from my own research and
other communication scholarship to their own lives in order to enhance
their psychosocial well-being. I see my teaching and research as an
integrated whole, rather than two disparate areas of my work.
My guiding pedagogical philosophy is that true learning occurs when students become active participants
in their own educations. I firmly believe that encouraging students to
become active, rather than passive, learners, helps them learn to
recognize how class topics and assignments are relevant to their lives.
In every class I
teach, I structure class meetings and assignments in ways that encourage
students to take their share of responsibility for their education in
an active manner. For instance, in my upper-level classes, I assign
semester-long research projects. One part of the assignment involves
selecting their own topics and then writing a proposal arguing why
their selected topic is relevant, rather than having me assign topics
(which they always ask me to do). By the end of the semester, most
students are actually excited and interested in their projects and are
eager to present their findings to the class. Ultimately, I believe that
this orientation toward critical thinking and active learning helps me
to educate students about communication in a manner that will help them transform their lives in beneficial ways.
Courses Regularly Taught
Communication in Family Systems
Communication and Interpersonal Behavior
Communication and Conflict Management
of Interpersonal Communication (Graduate Seminar)