Teacher Communication Style Essay

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Norton (1977) utilized his conceptualization of communicator style to investigate teacher effectiveness as a function of the way a teacher communicates within the classroom. Anderson et al. (1981) found that perceptions of teacher effectiveness and perceptions of student cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning were related to perceptions of active and open stylistic communication dimensions. In addition, these particular studies located teacher communication style within a much larger teacher–student relational context.

Kearney and McCroskey (1980) pointed out that the concept of communicator style utilized by Norton and others in their investigations of classroom communication was not solidly grounded within instructional communication theory. They grounded their notion of teacher communication style (TCS) within instructional communication theory, and defined TCS as “the collective perceptions of a teacher’s relational image in the classroom” (Kearney & McCroskey 1980, 533).

Norton and Nussbaum (1980) investigated the link between dramatic style and found that two dramatic style behaviors related strongly to effective teaching: the teacher is entertaining and the teacher performs double takes. In addition, several other teacher dramatic behaviors were shown to be utilized by highly effective teachers: storytelling; gets others to laugh; catches others up in stories; pokes fun; and is sarcastic.

 A series of investigations were conducted by Scott Myers and several colleagues to investigate the relationship between teacher argumentativeness, teacher verbal aggressiveness, and positive student outcomes. The results of these investigations support the notion that perceived instructor argumentativeness in the classroom is positively related to student outcomes while teacher aggressiveness is negatively related to positive classroom outcomes. Numerous additional variables related to teacher communication style have been investigated and related to positive student and teacher outcomes within the classroom. For instance, teacher self-disclosure, teacher humor, and positive face-work by teachers have all been shown to produce positive student and teacher outcomes.


  1. Anderson, J., Norton, R., & Nussbaum, J. F. (1981). Three investigations exploring the relationship among perceived communicator style, perceived teacher immediacy, perceived teacher–student solidarity, teacher effectiveness and student learning. Communication Education, 30, 377–392.
  2. Kearney, P. & McCroskey, J. C. (1980). Relationship among teacher communication style, trait and state communication apprehension, and teacher effectiveness. Communication Yearbook, 4, 533–552.
  3. Myers, S. A. & Rocca, K. A. (2001). Perceived instructor argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness in the college classroom: Effects on student perceptions of climate, apprehension, and state motivation. Western Journal of Communication, 65, 113–137.
  4. Norton, R. W. (1977). Teacher effectiveness as a function of communicator style. Communication Yearbook, 1, 525–542.
  5. Norton, R. & Nussbaum, J. F. (1980). Dramatic behaviors of the effective teacher. Communication Yearbook, 4, 565–574.

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