• The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Student Perceptions of Instructional Communication Behaviors

      Crecelius, Samuel A. (2014-03-12)
      In spite of desegregation and efforts to provide equitable education for all students, minorities and students living in poverty continue to underperform their peers. Education theorists have attributed this achievement gap to a cultural mismatch between students and their teachers and schools. At the same time, instructional communication research has found that cultural differences may influence student perceptions of teacher communication behaviors and that these behaviors have an effect on learning outcomes. Interestingly, while race has received extensive study in the instructional communication literature, little research has examined the role of socioeconomic status on students’ perceptions of instructor communication behaviors. The current study attempted to bridge this gap by examining the extent to which a student’s family income and first generation college student status affect perceptions of teacher nonverbal immediacy, clarity, and credibility. Data were derived from surveys completed by students enrolled in an entry level communication course and analyzed using multivariate methods. No significant effects were observed; however, a review of effect sizes suggests that family income may influence students’ perceptions of their instructor’s communication behaviors. While nonsignificant, these findings contribute to existing instructional communication research and provide some empirical evidence for the conceptual framework on which the study was based. Further research is recommended to establish a greater understanding of these phenomena.