Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



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 students’ interpretations of teachers’ 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 professor’s office or in informal contacts in the student center than in the classroom.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Renee Edwards



Included in

Communication Commons