Johnny Sparks
Johnny Sparks
Director of School of Journalism and Strategic Communication and Professor in School of Journalism and Strategic Communication
Curriculum Vitae


Room:AJ 300C

About Johnny Sparks 

Dr. Johnny Sparks is a Professor and Director of the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication. Dr. Sparks is the president-elect (2022-23) of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC). His research utilizes social scientific theoretical perspectives at the intersection of communication and psychology to explain how the structural features and content of advertising messages influence individuals’ motivational, emotional, and cognitive processing of information. His current research also focuses on philosophical and pedagogical issues in mass communication.

He has published 11 peer-reviewed articles in journals including Psychology & Marketing, Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Communication Methods and Measures, and the International Journal of Advertising. Dr. Sparks has also coauthored a refereed book chapter and seven refereed abstracts. He has presented more than 20 conference papers, including two top-papers in the International Communication Association’s Information Systems division.

Dr. Sparks has served on more than 50 graduate committees and directed several Master’s theses, as well as an American Advertising Academy award-winning doctoral dissertation (Sungwon Chung, Ph.D., TTU, 2012) to completion. 

Professional Experience

  • Ball State University, Director, School of Journalism and Strategic Communication, 2021-present
  • Ball State University, Chair, Department of Journalism, 2016-2021
  • Ball State University, Associate Professor with Tenure, Department of Journalism, 2016-present
  • Central Michigan University, Associate Professor with Tenure in Advertising, Department of Journalism, 2014-2016
  • Central Michigan University, Associate Department Chair, Department of Journalism, 2013-2014
  • Central Michigan University, Assistant Professor in Advertising, Department of Journalism, 2012-2014
  • Texas Tech University, Assistant Professor, Department of Advertising, 2009-2012
  • The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), Assistant Professor, Telecommunication and Film Department, 2006-2009
  • The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), Interim Graduate Coordinator, Telecommunication and Film Department, 2007-2008
  • Indiana University (Bloomington),The Kinsey Institute, Predoctoral Fellow 2005-2006
  • Indiana University (Bloomington),Institute for Communication Research, Research Assistant 2003-2004
  • Austin Peay State University, Director of Student Publications 2002-2003


  • Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy, Mass Communication, Indiana University
  • M.A., Speech, Communication, Theatre with honors, Austin Peay University
  • B.S., Journalism Cum Laude, Austin Peay State University

Selected Research and Publications

  • Spillman, M.M., Sparks, J.V., & Kuban, A.J. (2019, forthcoming). The use of comprehensive exit exams in program assessment: Benefits, challenges & best practices. Journal of Media Education.
  • Wirtz, J. G., Sparks, J.V., & Zimbres, T. M. (2018). The effect of exposure to sexual appeals in advertisements on memory, attitude, and purchase intention: A meta-analytical review, International Journal of Advertising.
  • Sparks, J. V. & Chung, S. (2016). The effects of psychobiological motivational traits on memory of in-game advertising messages, Psychology & Marketing.
  • Sparks, J. V. & Lang, A. (2015). Mechanisms underlying the effects of sexy and humorous content in advertisements, Communication Monographs.
  • Chung, S. & Sparks, J. V. (2015). Motivated cognitive processing of in-game advertising, Communication Research.
  • Erzikova, E., Mills, C., & Sparks, J. V. (2014). Identity management in HIV-positive prisoners in Russia, Russian Journal of Communication.
  • Sparks, J. V., Chuang, W., & Chung, S. (2012, Fall). Continuous emotional responding to audio, video, and audiovisual sensory channels during television viewing, Southwestern Mass Communication Journal.
  • Sparks, J. V., Matthews, C., & Chung, S. (2011, Fall). The influence of arousal on encoding and storage of information in pleasant television messages, Southwestern Mass Communication Journal.
  • Sparks, J. V. & Lang, A. (2010, October-December). An initial examination of the postauricular response as a physiological indicator of motivational activation during television viewing, Communication Methods and Measures.
  • Lang, A. Bradley, S., Sparks, J. V., & Lee, S. (2007). Measuring individual differences in motivational activation: Predicting physiological and behavioral indicators of appetitive and aversive activation, Communication Methods and Measures.
  • McBride, K. R., Sanders, S. A., Janssen, E., Grabe, M. E., Bass, J., Sparks, J. V., et al. (2007). Turning sexual science into news: Sex research and the media, Journal of Sex Research.

Honors and Awards

  • American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 Faculty Advisor, Third Place (in-track), National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), 2015
  • The University of Alabama, Board of Visitors Teaching Excellence Award, 2009.
  • The University of Alabama, The Last Lecture Series, 2009.

Course Schedule
Course No. Section Times Days Location
Public Relations Top 397 1A 0000 - 0000
Immersion: Special T 397 1A 0000 - 0000