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Teacher Immediacy

Peter Andersen and Janis Andersen

Subject Communication and Development » Instructional Communication

Key-Topics emotion, teaching

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Teacher immediacy is the term used to describe communication behaviors that reduce the perceived distance between teacher and students. By definition, immediacy behaviors convey teacher warmth, communicate positive relational affect, signal approach and availability for communication, and create increased physiological arousal in receivers. In research based on her dissertation, J. Andersen (1979) identified teacher immediacy as a nonverbal construct and sought ways to measure its impact on instructional outcomes. Now, with the accumulation of over three decades of research on teacher immediacy, the substantial influences of teacher immediacy in creating positive instructional outcomes are well understood ( Witt et al. 2004 ). The construct of teacher immediacy was theoretically grounded in → interpersonal communication research on immediacy, interpersonal warmth, and intimacy (→ Intimate Talk with Family and Friends ). A parallel body of literature has developed detailed theoretical models that explain the processes of intimacy exchange and describe how the immediacy behaviors function in close relationships ( P. Andersen 2008 ; → Relationship Development ). Theoretically, immediacy is encoded and decoded as a “gestalt,” meaning that perceptions arise from an overall impression of the degree of immediacy behaviors rather than from single cues. Nonverbal cues that contribute ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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