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Supporting our students: An examination of social support as out -of -class communication

Adam C Jones, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


As a fundamental form of human communication, social support has been examined in a wide variety of social contexts. However, despite the prevalence of social support in our everyday lives, its examination has been limited to a minimal number of relational contexts. One area where social support research has been deficient is the instructional context. Thus, the current investigation, using the communication perspective on social support (Albrecht & Adelman, 1987) as a descriptive framework, examined the effects of social support, as a form of out-of-class communication, within the instructional context. ^ In this study, 594 participants were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions and asked to complete a self-report questionnaire consisting of both Likert-type items and open-ended questions. 3 x 2 x 2 factorial ANOVAs were conducted on the quantitative data to examine the influences of teacher support ("highly supportive" x "moderately supportive" x "non-supportive"), teacher biological sex, and student biological sex on each of the dependent variables: students' perceptions of teacher support, student satisfaction, and student motivation. For the qualitative portions of the questionnaire, a content analysis was conducted to compare the frequencies and percentages of the students' responses. ^ The ANOVAs revealed that teacher sex and student sex do interact to affect teacher-student supportive interaction and relational outcomes. Specifically, for highly supportive male teachers, female students' ratings of satisfaction and motivation were significantly greater than male students' ratings. However, for moderately supportive male teachers, male students' ratings of satisfaction were significantly greater than female students' ratings, while male students' motivation ratings did not significantly differ from female students' ratings. ^ The content analysis revealed that students use messages that describe the facts of their stress situation as a primary means of seeking support and prefer that teachers use information support messages when providing assistance. In addition, students reported that their main risk when seeking support is that teachers will not care about the students' situation whereas students perceive teachers' primary risk when providing support is being viewed as unfair by other students. The results indicated no sex differences exist between male and female teachers and students in terms of supportive messages and risks.^

Subject Area

Speech Communication

Recommended Citation

Jones, Adam C, "Supporting our students: An examination of social support as out -of -class communication" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3258406.