Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Relationship between Students' Motives to Communicate with Their Instructors and Perceived Instructor Credibility, Attractiveness, and Homophily

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Relationship between Students' Motives to Communicate with Their Instructors and Perceived Instructor Credibility, Attractiveness, and Homophily

Article excerpt

This study investigated the relationship between students' motives to communicate (i.e., relational, functional, participatory, excuse making, and sycophantic) with their instructors and perceived instructor credibility, attractiveness, and homophily. 150 undergraduate students (85 men, 64 women, one did not indicate sex) enrolled at a large Mid-Atlantic university completed the Student Motives to Communicate Scale, the Measure of Source Credibility Scale, the revised Measure of Interpersonal Attraction Scale, and the revised Measure of Homophily scale. Analysis indicated that the functional motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor character and caring. Moreover, the relational motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor social and physical attractiveness; the functional motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor task and social attractiveness; the participatory motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor task, social, and physical attractiveness; and the sycophantic motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor social and physical attractiveness. In addition, the relational motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor attitude and background homophily, the participatory motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor attitude homophily, and the sycophantic motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor attitude and background homophily. Also, the excuse-making motive was correlated positively with perceived instructor social attractiveness and attitude homophily.

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Within the past decade, researchers have paid increasing attention to the role students' motives to communicate with their instructors plays in the college classroom. Conceptualized by Martin, Myers, and Mottet (1999), students' motives to communicate with their instructors represent the needs that students desire to have fulfilled through communication with their instructors and can emerge in five forms: relational, functional, participatory, excuse making, and sycophantic. Students who communicate for the relational motive are interested in learning more about their instructors on an interpersonal level. Students who communicate for the functional motive do so to obtain information about course requirements or assignments. Students who communicate for the participatory motive are interested in becoming actively involved in classroom discussion and responding to instructor queries or comments. Students who communicate for the excuse making motive do so to offer reasons for why their work is late, incomplete, or not finished. Students who communicate for the sycophantic motive desire to make a favorable impression on their instructors.

For many students, their desire to communicate with their instructors to fulfill their relational, functional, participatory, and sycophantic motives is related to whether instructors engage in verbal and nonverbal immediacy (Gendrin & Rucker, 2007; Martin, Valencic, & Heisel, 2001), utilize verbal approach strategies (Mottet, Martin, & Myers, 2004), engage in self-disclosure (Cayanus, Martin, & Goodboy, 2009), and use humor (Dunleavy, 2006) who also avoid the use of verbally aggressive behaviors (Myers, Edwards, Wahl, & Martin, 2007) and instructional misbehaviors (Goodboy, Myers, & Bolkan, 2010), largely because instructors' use of these behaviors implicitly invites students to interact with them. Conversely, whether students communicate for the excuse making motive is considered to be more dependent on their own personality and communication traits (e.g., Machiavellianism, communication apprehension) rather than instructors' in-class communicative behaviors (Jordan & Powers, 2007; Martin, Myers, & Mottet, 2006).

Given these findings, we were interested in examining whether students' motives to communicate with their instructors are linked to the impressions they make about their instructors. …

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