Academic Motivation as a Moderator of the Effects of Teacher Immediacy on Student Cognitive and Affective Learning

Article excerpt

According to the process model of instruction (Nisbet and Entwistle, 1988), student learning is affected not only by what is taught in relation to students interests and abilities and even how it is taught, but also by the relationship between teacher and students. The aspect of this relationship that has been investigated most frequently is the extent of psychological distance or immediacy that develops between students and teachers (c.f. Anderson, 1989; Rosenshine, 1985). Whereas, according to the process model, perceived teacher immediacy should be associated with better student learning, Andersen (1989) argued that this requires students to capitalize upon the intellectual benefits provided by a close relationship with teachers, something they are more likely to do if they are highly motivated academically. This argument suggests that the relationship between teacher immediacy and student learning should be significantly stronger among motivated students than among unmotivated students: i.e., that student motivation should interact with teacher immediacy in determining differences in student learning.

The subjects of the present study, designed to test this hypothesis, were 120 students at an Australian inner-city high school, average age 17.8 years, in six intact classes. Class sizes ranged from 18 to 25. The students rated their respective class teachers, who had taught them over the past two years. The amount of class contact between each of the teachers and their student raters over this period was approximately the same. The average teaching experience of the six teachers was 15.6 years. To assess teacher immediacy, the students rated how often their class teacher exhibited each of the 30 different verbal and nonverbal immediacy behaviours of the Teacher Immediacy Inventory (Gorham, 1990), on scales from 0 (never) to 4 (very often). Academic motivation was measured by the 14 item version of the scale developed by Entwistle and Entwistle (1980). Finally, following Gorham (1990), student learning was assessed by separate self report measures of cognitive and affective learning. Cognitive learning was measured by the two item scale of Richmond and McCroskey (1987) that indicates how much students believe they have learnt, and affective learning by the six-item scale developed by Scott and Wheeless (1975) that indicates how positively students feel about their learning experiences. …