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Department of Communication
logoRob Durbin/Communication
Helping Students Understand Relationships
By Tori Goode

To most students, what makes a good professor is someone passionate about what they teach. Professor Rob Durbin brings not only love and passion to his classrooms but the way and what he teaches can directly affect the lives of his students.

Most professors teach in a way that if a student is paying attention, they can take what they want from the information given. Durbin takes a different spin on teaching by making his students the center of his research.

As an interpersonal communications professor, one of his main goals is to help his students understand past and present relationships, and help make them see why or why not they have maintained these close bonds.

With a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University in political science, Durbin was drawn into the communication field from a family friend who had studied corporate organizational communication at West Virginia. After he received his degree he then ventured on earn an MBA at Marshall University, where he would go on to teach marketing for eight years.

Durbin would return to WVU to earn a second master's degree, this one in communications. Durbin found a mentor in a professor named James McCrowski, who helped guide him along in this field.

Durbin frequently vacationed in Charleston and decided he and his wife needed to relocate. With his background of teaching he saw an advertisement in The Post and Courier for prospective professors and decided to apply for the job. In 2005 he received the job and has thoroughly enjoyed the Charleston environment-- in the classroom and the weather outside as well.

Soon after starting his career at the college, he found that teaching interpersonal relationships was a great way for him to discover new ideas of research.

Currently Durbin is researching the interpersonal communication of introverted males, in terms of initiating romantic relationships. This semester in his interpersonal relationship class, he sparked a discussion about how or why introverted males have more of a challenge finding relationships. He found that most introverted males are usually attracted to extroverted females, which through the Myers Briggs personality test, creates some anxiety among males.

Conversely Durbin finds that most women who express their emotions extrovertly are attracted to men who express their emotional introvertly.

Similar r esearch by his past professor James McCrowki concluded that the ideal relationship and the most fulfilling are two extroverted personalities as long as their relationship is not of a neurotic nature.

McCrowski says that extroverts have this ideal relationship because they are very passionate and contribute very intense emotions to each other.

These two theories opened a gateway for Durbin. He then took a closer look at attachment theory, which is a positive model of self versus how you perceive others.
Durbin decided to analyze introversion with attachment theory to see their correlation.

What motives Durbin to do this type of research is his desire to learn more about introverted males. He believes that attachment theory could use a little more research due to the need of a new perspective for introverted males.

Durbin not only brings his research to his classroom, but also makes his students the research. He wants to take issues students have with relationships and work through them with them.

For an end of the year project, he assigned his students to write a paper on a relationship they have had in the past (romantic or platonic) and go through the steps using attachment theory, to why those relationships did not work. Students have really responded positively to this assignment. “It is one of the best projects I have done at the college,"according to student Sara Summers.

It has been a way for students to analyze relationships they have had, and have provided closure to many students through writing this paper.

As for the "big picture" Durbin just wants to "provide the information that introverted males need to become more assertive to females with extroverted personalities."

His goal is to help students succeed in their personal relationships by giving them the variables they need to understand them.