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A Meta-Analytical Review of the Relationship between Teacher Immediacy and Student Learning
Unformatted Document Text:  Immediacy and Learning Meta-Analysis 7 immediacy influences learning outcomes (e.g., Booth-Butterfield, Mosher, & Mollish, 1992; Comstock et al., 1995; Frymier & Houser, 1998; Witt & Wheeless, 2001). Theoretical Explanations As noted earlier, nonverbal immediacy is frequently explained in terms of approach- avoidance theory (Mehrabian, 1969, 1981). People move closer to objects (other people) they like, and farther away from objects they dislike. The resulting perceptions of physical or psychological closeness may serve as rewards in the reinforcement paradigm (Berscheid & Walster, 1978). Verbal immediacy may be further explained in terms of speech accommodation theory (Giles, Mulac, Bradac, & Johnson, 1987; Jordan & Wheeless, 1990). People adapt the manner and content of their verbal communication to the perceived preference or style of the receiver and context. Immediacy behaviors, then, serve to enhance interpersonal closeness (Mehrabian, 1981). While most immediacy studies report generally positive relationships between teacher immediacy and student outcomes, there is little agreement about how immediacy works to enhance learning. Several learning models have been tested using path analysis to explain the effects of teacher immediacy on student learning. Although each of these models has been shown to be the best fit in at least one investigation, none of the immediacy and learning models has proven to be consistently better across many studies. The following are among the explanations advanced by scholars: Immediacy may attract or arouse students’ attention, which is related to cognitive learning (Comstock et al., 1995; Kelley and Gorham, 1988). Immediacy may serve to increase students’ state motivation to learn, which in turn increases their learning (Christophel, 1990; Christophel & Gorham, 1995; Frymier, 1994; Richmond, 1990). Immediacy may enhance affect for the teacher and course content, thereby increasing cognitive learning (Rodriguez et al.,

Authors: Witt, Paul., Wheeless, Lawrence. and Allen, Mike.
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Immediacy and Learning Meta-Analysis 7
immediacy influences learning outcomes (e.g., Booth-Butterfield, Mosher, & Mollish, 1992;
Comstock et al., 1995; Frymier & Houser, 1998; Witt & Wheeless, 2001).
Theoretical Explanations
As noted earlier, nonverbal immediacy is frequently explained in terms of approach-
avoidance theory (Mehrabian, 1969, 1981). People move closer to objects (other people) they
like, and farther away from objects they dislike. The resulting perceptions of physical or
psychological closeness may serve as rewards in the reinforcement paradigm (Berscheid &
Walster, 1978). Verbal immediacy may be further explained in terms of speech accommodation
theory (Giles, Mulac, Bradac, & Johnson, 1987; Jordan & Wheeless, 1990). People adapt the
manner and content of their verbal communication to the perceived preference or style of the
receiver and context. Immediacy behaviors, then, serve to enhance interpersonal closeness
(Mehrabian, 1981).
While most immediacy studies report generally positive relationships between teacher
immediacy and student outcomes, there is little agreement about how immediacy works to
enhance learning. Several learning models have been tested using path analysis to explain the
effects of teacher immediacy on student learning. Although each of these models has been shown
to be the best fit in at least one investigation, none of the immediacy and learning models has
proven to be consistently better across many studies. The following are among the explanations
advanced by scholars: Immediacy may attract or arouse students’ attention, which is related to
cognitive learning (Comstock et al., 1995; Kelley and Gorham, 1988). Immediacy may serve to
increase students’ state motivation to learn, which in turn increases their learning (Christophel,
1990; Christophel & Gorham, 1995; Frymier, 1994; Richmond, 1990). Immediacy may enhance
affect for the teacher and course content, thereby increasing cognitive learning (Rodriguez et al.,


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