Maggie Pitts

About Maggie Pitts

Maggie Pitts (PhD, Penn State, 2005) joined the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona as an Assistant Professor in the Fall 2011. Her program of research centers on the types of everyday talk people use to manage transitions across the life course (such as health decision-making, end-of-life and later life conversations, retirement, international sojourning, etc.). Transitions offer a rich context for the study of interpersonal communication, as it is during these times that people often become acutely aware of the importance of “talk” and a shifting sense of self. Dr. Pitts specializes in qualitative research methods including observation, interviewing, focus groups, and case studies. Her research has been published in the Journal of Social Issues, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Health Communication, Communication and Medicine,  International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Qualitative Health Research, The Qualitative Report, and Qualitative Research.

Very recently her work has turned toward “the bright side” of communication to consider ways of enhancing communication experiences across the lifespan. Toward this end, she has co-edited two volumes on positive communication - the first of their kind to harness and provide focus for a movement in Positive Communication - The Positive Side of Interpersonal Communication (Socha & Pitts, Eds., 2012) and Positive Communication in Health and Wellness (Pitts & Socha, Eds., 2013). A positive communication approach looks at “what we’re doing right” in our communication and relationships rather than “what is going wrong.”

She teaches undergraduate courses in interpersonal, intercultural, and nonverbal communication at the University of Arizona. In Fall 2012 she taught a graduate seminar on health communication theory and will bea teaching a graduate seminar on qualitative research methods in communication in the Fall, 2013.

News for this summer (2013):

Dr. Maggie Pitts will be teaching in the Orvieto summer school program for the first time this summer, but she is no stranger to study abroad. Not only has she studied abroad twice, one of her core interests in research and teaching is international sojourning. Specifically, she studies students who study abroad! She has taught numerous courses on intercultural communication and international sojourning and even preparatory courses for students who study abroad. She has published her research on study abroad in international journals and presented and conducted research all over the globe including France, Mexico, The Netherlands, Australia, The UK, South Africa, China, Canada, and beyond! It is not often that a person's personal interests and career interests are the same, but for Dr. Pitts, study abroad is not just a personal passion - her career is built upon it!


I have three active research projects.

I am investigating the role of interpersonal communication in re-entry experiences of students who study abroad.

I am studying effective strategies for managing face and identity in conversations between adult children and parents concerning later life.

I am concluding research on the role of anticipated regret in decision-making regarding HPV vaccination decisions.


My Graduate Research Team is currently investigating

  • the roles of personality and communication channel on job satisfaction among teleworkers
  • managing romantic relationships via Facebook - confirming expectations and suspicions
  • managing later life friendships among relocated retirees


Maggie Pitts's picture

Contact Information

Maggie Pitts
Assistant Professor
Telephone: (520) 621-7080
Fax: (520) 621-5504
Office: COMM 222


PhD (2005):   Communication Arts and Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University
Dissertation: The Role of Communication in Cross-National Adjustment and Identity Transitions among Student Sojourners

MA (2001): Speech Communication, The Pennsylvania State University
Thesis:  Cultural Identity and Patterns of Social Support among United States American Students Abroad

BA (1999): Human Communication, magna cum laude, Arizona State University

BA (1999): Modern French Language, magna cum laude, Arizona State University

Courses Taught

What are the students saying about taking classes with Dr. Pitts?

Practical use and appeal for a globalizing world. Good to learn for business, personal, or political careers. (Comm 117: Culture and Communication, Fall, 2011)

I loved the topic. Very practical and applicable in real life situations. Made me pay more attention to details in conversations. (Comm 415: Nonverbal Communication, Spr, 2012)

Dr. Pitts is a great instructor. She is thorough and enthusiastic in lecture. She truly cares about her class. (Comm 117: Culture and Communication, Fall, 2011)

[Dr. Pitts] has great enthusiasm, makes class fun and interesting so you want to go to class! Very smart and trustworthy professor. (Comm 415: Nonverbal Communication, Spr, 2012)


Health Communication

Qualitative Research Methods in Communication (coming in Fall 2013)


Communication Research Methods
Family Communication 
Foundations of Group Communication
Intercultural Communication 
International Sojourning
Interpersonal Communication Theory and Research
Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
Language and Social Identity
Language and Social Psychology
Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction
Storytelling and Society

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences