Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Betsy Wackernagel Bach

Commitee Members

Roberta Evans, Stephen Yoshimura


classroom communication, education, graduate teaching assistants, immediacy


University of Montana


Current research on immediacy and classroom communication primarily focuses on the impact of teacher behaviors on students, and does not focus on the dual influence of teachers and students. Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) have unique communication concerns and provide a context to explore how this particular population of teachers interpret and respond to student immediacy cues. While previous research has not always given adequate focus to the transactional process of classroom communication, the two studies presented here explore the dual influence that occurs by considering the impact of student immediacy and withdrawal behaviors on GTAs and the teaching process. A grounded theory constant comparison method is used to analyze interviews. The data were used to develop themes to extend the current research on immediacy. The findings of these studies illustrate how GTAs define immediacy as an expression of interest, engagement, and/or approval. GTAs use both the presence and absence of communication cues to interpret student behaviors as communicating immediacy or withdrawal. The term withdrawal is proposed in this study to conceptualize student behaviors that GTAs identified as being in opposition to immediacy. Additionally, this study highlights the impact of GTAs communication concerns on the process of interpreting and responding to student classroom communication cues. Suggestions are made for future research that focuses on classroom interactions as transactional negotiations of meaning. Finally, theoretical and practical recommendations are made for future research and education programs for GTAs and students.

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© Copyright 2006 Clair Owen Canfield