Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teachers should refrain from self-deprecation when trying to engage students

Date:
October 9, 2013
Source:
National Communication Association
Summary:
A new study finds teachers need to thread the needle between chilly distance and over-exposure of their own foibles if they want to gain the confidence of their students and avoid disruptions in the classroom.

A new study finds teachers need to thread the needle between chilly distance and over-exposure of their own foibles if they want to gain the confidence of their students and avoid disruptions in the classroom. The study, "The Relationship of Instructor Self-Disclosure, Nonverbal Immediacy, and Credibility to Student Incivility in the College Classroom," was published online today in the National Communication Association's journal, Communication Education.

"Previous studies have shown that students respond to teacher body language, and that they are less likely to disrupt class if they feel engagement from the professor," says the study's lead author, Ann Neville Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of human communication at the University of Central Florida. "But trying to get on students' level by referring to problems in your personal life or foolish things you've done in the past is probably going to make them lose respect."

Most important to maintaining control of the class, according to the study, is the teacher's credibility -- something that can be earned neither by boring students nor by trying to assume a false intimacy with them.

In their study, Miller and her colleagues interviewed 438 students at a large Southeastern university and asked them for opinions of the instructors whose class they had last attended. They were asked to numerically evaluate their professors on a scale between stiff and friendly and to describe what kind of personal disclosures the instructors made in the classroom. The students also were asked to say how credible they found their professors, and to indicate how often they engaged in behaviors such as texting, making disparaging remarks, or packing up books before class was over.

The researchers found that, in general, a student's beliefs about an instructor's competence and credibility determined the extent to which the instructor's efforts at personal candor or warmth affected the classroom. If students viewed an instructor as credible, the extent of her personal gestures made little difference to the student's feelings about the class, or his or her tendency to act in an uncivil way.

While creating a warm environment in the class is important, the authors noted, "it appears that instructors who start out revealing negative things about themselves may raise the quotient of incivility in the class. Tempting as it may be for instructors to attempt to warm up students by being transparent about their foibles and excesses, extensive negative self-disclosure should be engaged in with caution."

Instructor self-disclosure did not necessarily reduce student incivility, the authors write. Indeed, the most specific guidance that the study provides for instructors is to avoid negative self-disclosure to their classes. Admitting weakness may sound like a good way to seem relevant or immediate to students, but it can backfire if it makes students think the teacher is ineffective or incompetent, Miller said.

Communication scholars have found that competence, trustworthiness, and caring are key attributes that listeners seek in a speaker. But student perceptions of caring and trustworthiness may derive less from body language than from the conviction that the instructor knows his or her business, the study's authors found.

"In other words," they said, "competence is a sine qua non -- if it is not clear that an instructor is competent, students will accord him/her only limited credibility of any sort."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Communication Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ann Neville Miller, James A. Katt, Tim Brown, Stephen A. Sivo. The Relationship of Instructor Self-Disclosure, Nonverbal Immediacy, and Credibility to Student Incivility in the College Classroom. Communication Education, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03634523.2013.835054

Cite This Page:

National Communication Association. "Teachers should refrain from self-deprecation when trying to engage students." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009095725.htm>.
National Communication Association. (2013, October 9). Teachers should refrain from self-deprecation when trying to engage students. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009095725.htm
National Communication Association. "Teachers should refrain from self-deprecation when trying to engage students." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009095725.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme

Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme

AP (July 23, 2014) Six people were indicted Wednesday in an international ring that took over more than 1,000 StubHub users' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets that were then resold. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins