How we perceive the world can be broken down into three steps: selection, organization and interpretation. First, selection allows us to choose consciously and unconsciously what we want to pay attention to. Next, organization allows us tocategorize information we select. Third, interpretation provides us with a frame structure to understand our selection and create a perception. These steps are completed within minutes of a new encounter, such as the first day of class.
In 2008, Communication Education published a study titled, “Students’Predispositions and Orientations toward Communication and Perceptions of Instructor Reciprocity and Learning”,conducted by Jerry Allen, Kathleen Long, Joan O’Mara and Ben Judd. The study surveyed whether college student’s communication was related to their perception of the instructors. More specifically, they examined the relationship between college student’s communication avoidance and socio-communicative orientation to their perception of the instructor’s immediacy, socio-communication style, and satisfaction with instructors and learning. The study concluded that, “Students’assertiveness and responsiveness correlated positively with perceptions of instructors’ immediacy and assertiveness/responsiveness, and classroom learning.” The study showed that communication styles of instructors affect how students perceive the instructor and the class.
So, while we are in the first few weeks of the new semester, here’s some advice for faculty and students: Professors- keep in mind how your communication styles may be perceived by your students and be open to being flexible by adapting your message. Students- acknowledgeyour communication style and how it is affecting your perception of the professor and your learning abilities. Moving forward, instead of saying my students/teachers aren’t listening or being responsive…take a step back and implement another approach of communicating. Remember, how we perceive the world is through our ownknowledge and experience.
Allen, J., Judd, B., Long, K.,& O’Mara, J. (2008). Students’predispositions and orientations toward communication and perceptions of instructor reciprocity and learning. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/101080/03634520701670908#.UuAp5BAo7IU