The research says, “ Yes!”smilingvocal expressivenessmovement about the roomrelaxed body positionresult in increased cognitive and affective learning
It is not easy to prescribe warmth and class cohesiveness; these are abstract concepts. The research, however, can tell teachers that the correlation has been documented.Non-verbal immediacy is a high inference quality linked to increased learning. Verbal immediacy is a low inference quality linked to increased learning.
Immediacy Closeness, connectedness, mutuality, a sense of “I’m here for you” It assumes that one is in touch with his/her ‘heart and soul’ and is attempting to reach that of someone else. It is what we see in the quintessential great teachers as depicted in such movies as “Stand and Deliver” or “Mr. Holland’s Opus” or “Lean on Me.”
In the Gorham study (n=397), undergrads were asked to think of the best teachers they have ever had and to list the specific likable behaviors of those teachers. Their list included: Vocal expressiveness Never seeks to put a student on the spot Asks questions that have more than one answer Does not point out faults or criticize …says ‘my class’ not the class; says “our assignments instead of ‘your assignments’; what ‘we’ are doing, not what ‘you’ are doing.
In this study, cognitive learning was assessed via student perceptions. Of course these can be confounded by a teacher affect toward the student. Similarly though, a test , as assessment can be confounded by extraneous conditions such as attendance, writing skills, participation, preparation, motivation…..
So let’s talk… Look at the immediacy behavior items on the table Which ones do you observe in college faculty here? Which ones do you believe you display? Would your students agree? Will you try to employ some of these behaviors? Which ones are not so easy or comfortable? How will you know if employing these is making a difference with your students?
Based on the research of Joan Gorham, Ed.D. Northern Illinois University Gorham J. 1988. “The relationship between verbal teacher immediacy behaviors and student learning. “ Communication Education, 37, 40-53.