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The Influence of Communicative Interactions on Student Achievement
Unformatted Document Text:  The Influence of Communicative Interactions on Student Achievement Section I: The federal government, U.S. public, school administrators, and teachers are each concerned about student achievement. “Student achievement” is usually defined by a student’s success in an academic discipline, an exhibited level of competency on some type of standardized test (e.g., SAT, ACT, state mandated exams), or grade point average. For the purposes of this paper, student achievement is defined as an increase in academic development regarding student success in the classroom. Academic development is the demonstration of learning of subject content and process. This paper focuses on the communicative aspects of learning and the influence communication has on student achievement. Consequently, two communication behaviors will be examined, teacher immediacy and student communication apprehension. Several studies have been conducted to provide insight into the teacher-student communication relationship, in general, and what inspires or motivates a student to learn or to become interested in a topic, in particular. Bainbridge-Frymier and Houser (2000) noted the following variables as having a relationship to learning: immediacy, communicator style, affinity-seeking, compliance gaining, humor, and caring. Perhaps one of the variables that has attracted the most attention in the study of student achievement is “teacher immediacy.” According to Gorham and Zakahi (1990), immediacy is defined as an action(s) that decreases the physical and/or psychological distance between individuals with respect to communication behavior. Baringer and McCroskey (2000) view immediacy as being produced by communicative behaviors that “enhance closeness to and nonverbal interaction with another” (p. 178). Teacher immediacy then is the communicative behaviors that a teacher employs to reduce the psychological and physical distance between students and themselves. Immediacy behaviors involve verbal and nonverbal communication. Examples of teacher verbal immediacy behaviors include calling students by name, encouraging feedback, and soliciting student opinions. The use of humor, storytelling, and disclosure are other forms of verbal immediacy that Christensen and Menzel (1998) identified as effective teacher characteristics. Some examples of nonverbal teacher immediacy behaviors consist of direct eye contact, facial expressions (e.g., smiling, frowning), gestures, and tone of voice among others. Chory and McCroskey (1999), Christensen and Menzel (1998), Gorham and Zakahi (1990), and Kelley and Gorham (1988) each investigated the relationship between student achievement and teacher immediacy and found a positive relationship between these two variables. Teachers who were perceived by students to exercise immediacy promoted student learning. However, Christensen and Menzel (1998) noted a difference between nonverbal and verbal immediacy behaviors with nonverbal communication appearing to have a more significant effect on learning than verbal communication. Immediacy enhances student learning from a number of perspectives (Gorham & Zakahi, 1990). First, immediacy behaviors are associated with the use of positive or encouraging feedback via verbal and nonverbal messages. Positive interaction creates a warm and open environment for learning that is free from negative behavior(s) that usually lead to less student participation and involvement (Chory & McCroskey, 1999). Ryan and Cooper (2000) support this finding and noted that a school environment that is “calm, safe, pleasant, and orderly is conducive to learning” (p. 92). Second, immediacy behaviors are closely linked to liking; that is individuals are drawn to people, objects, or

Authors: Robinson, Renee.
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The Influence of Communicative Interactions on Student Achievement
Section I:
The federal government, U.S. public, school administrators, and teachers are each
concerned about student achievement. “Student achievement” is usually defined by a
student’s success in an academic discipline, an exhibited level of competency on some
type of standardized test (e.g., SAT, ACT, state mandated exams), or grade point average.
For the purposes of this paper, student achievement is defined as an increase in academic
development regarding student success in the classroom. Academic development is the
demonstration of learning of subject content and process. This paper focuses on the
communicative aspects of learning and the influence communication has on student
achievement. Consequently, two communication behaviors will be examined, teacher
immediacy and student communication apprehension.
Several studies have been conducted to provide insight into the teacher-student
communication relationship, in general, and what inspires or motivates a student to learn
or to become interested in a topic, in particular. Bainbridge-Frymier and Houser (2000)
noted the following variables as having a relationship to learning: immediacy,
communicator style, affinity-seeking, compliance gaining, humor, and caring. Perhaps
one of the variables that has attracted the most attention in the study of student
achievement is “teacher immediacy.” According to Gorham and Zakahi (1990),
immediacy is defined as an action(s) that decreases the physical and/or psychological
distance between individuals with respect to communication behavior. Baringer and
McCroskey (2000) view immediacy as being produced by communicative behaviors that
“enhance closeness to and nonverbal interaction with another” (p. 178). Teacher
immediacy
then is the communicative behaviors that a teacher employs to reduce the
psychological and physical distance between students and themselves.
Immediacy behaviors involve verbal and nonverbal communication. Examples of
teacher verbal immediacy behaviors include calling students by name, encouraging
feedback, and soliciting student opinions. The use of humor, storytelling, and disclosure
are other forms of verbal immediacy that Christensen and Menzel (1998) identified as
effective teacher characteristics. Some examples of nonverbal teacher immediacy
behaviors consist of direct eye contact, facial expressions (e.g., smiling, frowning),
gestures, and tone of voice among others. Chory and McCroskey (1999), Christensen and
Menzel (1998), Gorham and Zakahi (1990), and Kelley and Gorham (1988) each
investigated the relationship between student achievement and teacher immediacy and
found a positive relationship between these two variables. Teachers who were perceived
by students to exercise immediacy promoted student learning. However, Christensen and
Menzel (1998) noted a difference between nonverbal and verbal immediacy behaviors
with nonverbal communication appearing to have a more significant effect on learning
than verbal communication.
Immediacy enhances student learning from a number of perspectives (Gorham &
Zakahi, 1990). First, immediacy behaviors are associated with the use of positive or
encouraging feedback via verbal and nonverbal messages. Positive interaction creates a
warm and open environment for learning that is free from negative behavior(s) that
usually lead to less student participation and involvement (Chory & McCroskey, 1999).
Ryan and Cooper (2000) support this finding and noted that a school environment that is
“calm, safe, pleasant, and orderly is conducive to learning” (p. 92). Second, immediacy
behaviors are closely linked to liking; that is individuals are drawn to people, objects, or


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