Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
SKILLFULLY INSTRUCTING LEARNERS:
HOW COMMUNICATORS EFFECTIVELY
CONVEY MESSAGES
John A. Daly
Anita L. Vangelisti
Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas, Austin

In teaching, one of the most important communicative challenges people face is to effectively convey their messages to others in clear and memorable ways. What does it take to effectively communicate an idea so that learners fully grasp and remember that idea? Are there ways to enhance the clarity of instructional messages? How do listeners' feelings about the person communicating a message affect their grasp and recall of what they hear?

In this chapter, we review research that addresses these sorts of questions. Our basic assumption is that this research provides an understanding of the skills required of communicators to effectively convey their messages. Our emphasis will be on the skills involved in teaching, although most of the studies summarized in this chapter apply far beyond instructional settings. Indeed, much of communication is, in some way, instructional in nature. In relationships, people teach one another constantly; in families, parents are teachers (as are children); in the workplace, a substantial percentage of communication revolves around offering and receiving sometimes explicit, and often, implicit instructions.

We structure this chapter by initially looking at some basic theories of learning. These theories frame key communication skills involved in the acquisition and retention of information. Then we propose that the skillful communication of clear and impactful instructional messages requires the accomplishment of two interrelated tasks: First, communicators must ensure that listeners comprehend what has been said. Second, communicators must generate enthusiasm and affinity so that others listen to their messages. These two tasks (clear communication and building affinity) organize the majority of this chapter.

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