Academic journal article Education

Students' Communication and Positive Outcomes in College Classrooms

Academic journal article Education

Students' Communication and Positive Outcomes in College Classrooms

Article excerpt


Classroom communication is an important factor in developing students' learning in higher education institutions. According to Hubbel and Hubbel, "education is significantly more than information transmission and skill building. It is also very importantly a developmental process both for student and instructor" (2010, p. 351). Higher learning institutions provide students with various opportunities to develop their communication skills. Many of these opportunities involve giving students chances to participate in classroom activities that involve them academically and socially with both faculty and peers.

Although "universities are currently facing the dual challenges of enhancing the quality of teaching and learning" (Murray & Summerlee, 2007, p. 88), faculty members routinely find ways of enhancing students' classroom experience by selecting an appropriate pedagogy that involves students in activities such as discussion, dialogue, debate, group work, and presentations. According to Petress, "students learn best when they take an active process, not a passive one" (2006, p. 821). Thus, while it is not easy to succeed in creating a classroom that is full of active participation (Weaver, 2005), the behavior and expectations established by the instructor influence students' learning; this is specifically true in regard to transformational leadership, as it positively effects students' learning outcomes and participation (Bolkan & Goodboy, 2009).

Review of Literature

Students' classroom participation has a positive impact on both students and their professors, as "classrooms are the workplace for the instructor and students, where statuses are defined, goals and tasks are laid out, and rules are specified" (Weaver, 2005, p. 571). Students' classroom engagement is therefore related to students' academic development in terms of their learning and overall experience (Cheng, 2004). For example, when students are actively involved in classroom discussions, they feel as though they are being treated as adults (Bradbury & Mather, 2009), and this positively enhances graduation and retention rates (Svanum & Bigatti, 2009).

Factors Affecting Students "Classroom Participation: Motivation toward the course

Beran and Violato (2009) found that students are primarily interested in participating in the classroom when they had positive reactions and were motivated in the course. The students were also more engaged in applied and elective courses. Also, course work load affect students' engagement, as students focused and engaged in the course when the work load required more involvement. However, there are some "students who are interested in a particular topic, maybe actively engaged, regardless of how the course is offered" (Beran & Violato, 2009, p. 2). The familiarity of the topic and its interest to the students can also motivate them for participation (Ezzedeen, 2008). Therefore, students' interest in participation may differ per course based on their level of interest and attractiveness of the topic. Some course content may be related to students' experiences, therefore they find it highly interesting to participate. However; other course content may be conceptually difficult and students may not relate or have no knowledge, therefore, they have no interest in participation.

Faculty members

David (2004) conducted a qualitative case study of six students concerning classroom interaction and participation. The study indicated that instructors often play a great role in facilitating or encouraging students' participation. The study results also found that some students knowingly dominate class discussions, while others are passive. However, regardless of the equality of participation, the students did not prefer to have the faculty require all of them to participate in a classroom discussion. Overall, it is found that active participation provides the faculty and students with an enriched environment for the improvement of democratic education (Patchen, 2006). …

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