Title page for ETD etd-11072005-163200

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Rester, Carolyn Hornsby
Author's Email Address creste1@lsu.edu
URN etd-11072005-163200
Title The Effects of Sex and Context on Students' Interpretation of Teachers' High Immediacy Messages
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Communication Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Renee Edwards Committee Chair
Becky Ropers-Huilman Committee Member
James Honeycutt Committee Member
Loretta Pecchioni Committee Member
Margaret DeFleur Dean's Representative
  • teacher misbehavior
  • message interpretation
  • instructional communication
  • extra-class communication
  • student-teacher relationship
  • sex differences
Date of Defense 2005-09-26
Availability unrestricted
Teacher immediacy has been positively associated with many desirable academic outcomes, including quality student-teacher relationships, student participation in the classroom and in extra-class interaction, and increased student learning. Thus, scholars have consistently encouraged educators to increase their use of immediacy in contacts with students. However, some previous research found that high levels of teacher immediacy can be problematic in relationships and detrimental to desirable educational outcomes. Immediacy behavior tends to promote personal relationships and inclusion. However, excessive immediacy may change the meaning that students receive from the behavior.

Using a message interpretation perspective, this study examined how sex of the student and sex of the teacher effects studentsí interpretations of teachersí high immediacy behavior in both in-class and extra-class contexts. Results reveal that students interpret high immediacy from male teachers as control but the same behavior from female teachers is interpreted as caring. Students also perceive excessive immediacy as more inappropriate when it is from a male teacher than from a female teacher. Female students are more likely than male students to identify the high immediacy behavior as sexual harassment. Students are also more likely to interpret excessive immediacy as sexual harassment when it occurs in extra-class contexts, such as in the professorís office or in informal contacts in the student center than in the classroom.

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