Examining the relationship between communicator style and immediacy in the college classroom



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Texas Tech University


Numerous factors influence a student's individual learning. It is the responsibility of educators to guide students in the best way possible. Educational research has often focused on three stages of instruction: preoperational, process, and product. Staton-Spicer and Marty-White (1981) clarify that the preoperational stage focuses on teacher characteristics, the process stage assesses the teacher's actual classroom behaviors, and the product stage examines student outcomes. A great deal of emphasis has been placed on the process-product paradigm in instructional and educational research (Sallinen-Kuparinen, 1992). Anderson, Evertson, and Brophy (1979) explain the basic goal of the process-product paradigm is "to defime relationships between what teachers do in the classroom (the process of teaching) and what happens to their students (the product of learning)" (p. 193). Although it is not feasible to account for all of the factors that may influence a student's education, instructors have the ability to impact students through their actions. Specifically, by examining our behaviors both in and out of the classroom, and exploring the influence those behaviors have on students, we are on our way to achieving the goal of guidmg our students in their educational endeavors. If we know what instructor behaviors impact students, then we will be better prepared to connect with them in a meaningful way.

Therefore, this study seeks to explore educators' behaviors through examining the relationship between communicator style and immediacy in the college classroom. As the examination of literature on both subjects will illustrate, a great deal of knowledge has been accumulated, but this knowledge has been slow to influence the actual training of instructors. The goal of this study is to further define the relationship between the constructs of communicator style and immediacy in an attempt to establish a training program. Thus, this study is the first step in a long-term plan of developing a training program centered on improving instructors' communicator style through verbal and nonverbal immediacy behavior training.