In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Instructional Communication

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Models
  • Learning Environment

Communication Instructional Communication
Scott A. Myers
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 December 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0177


Instructional communication is a discipline that centers on the role that communication plays in the teaching-learning process independent of the type of student learner, the subject matter, or the instructional setting. Since its formal recognition as an area of academic study in 1972 by the International Communication Association, instructional communication researchers examine how several factors—such as instructor teaching strategies and preferences, student learning styles and orientations, instructor classroom management practices, instructor and student characteristics, and the development of communication relationships—not only influence how and why students interact with their instructors and their peers, but also the ways in which students respond favorably to the learning environment.

General Overviews

Several overviews provide insight into the history of the instructional communication discipline. Both Priess and Wheeless 2014 and Richmond and Frymier 2010 review the development of the instructional communication discipline. Staton 1989 distinguishes between the study of instructional communication and the study of communication education, whereas Nussbaum and Friedrich 2005 explains how the study of instructional communication differs from the study of developmental communication. Friedrich 1989 offers several ideas on the practical nature of conducting instructional communication research. Both Staton-Spicer and Wulff 1984 and Waldeck, et al. 2001 offer a content analysis of the research conducted by instructional communication researchers. Beebe and Mottet 2009 introduces the rhetorical and relational perspectives to the study of instructional communication and review the methods instructional communication researchers employ.

  • Beebe, Steven A., and Timothy P. Mottet. 2009. Students and teachers. In 21st century communication: A reference handbook. Vol. 1. Edited by William F. Eadie, 349–357. Los Angeles: SAGE.

    The authors offer an introduction to the field of instructional communication. They preview the rhetorical and relational approaches to instructional communication, explain the quantitative and qualitative research methods instructional communication researchers use, and review several widely studied teacher communication behaviors.

  • Friedrich, Gus W. 1989. A view from the office of the SCA president. Communication Education 38:297–302.

    DOI: 10.1080/0363452890909278767

    In his role as the then-president of the Speech Communication Association, the author discusses how the practical nature of the communication discipline can be applied to the instructional communication discipline. He posits that instructional communication researchers can assist educational organizations in meeting the instructional and learning needs of K-12 students.

  • Nussbaum, Jon F., and Gustav Friedrich. 2005. Instructional/developmental communication: Current theory, research, and future trends. Journal of Communication 55:578–593.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2005.tb02686.x

    The authors briefly review the development of the International Communication Association’s Division 7, which was the first formal academic group established to promote the study of communication in learning environments and the life span. They then provide an overview of the research conducted by instructional communication and developmental communication scholars.

  • Priess, Raymond W., and Lawrence R. Wheeless. 2014. Perspectives on instructional communication’s historical path to the future. Communication Education 63:308–328.

    DOI: 10.1080/03634523.2014.910605

    The authors trace the origins of the instructional communication discipline. They pay particular attention to the Source-Channel-Message-Receiver model of communication that influenced much of the research conducted during the discipline’s earlier years.

  • Richmond, Virginia Peck, and Ann Bainbridge Frymier. 2010. Communication education and instructional development. In A century of transformation: Studies in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Eastern Communication Association. Edited by James W. Chesebro, 310–328. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    The authors provide an overview of the historical development of the instructional communication discipline. They review four major traditional lines of research, identify six newer lines of research, and establish a research agenda for future instructional communication researchers.

  • Staton, Ann Q. 1989. The interface of communication and instruction: Conceptual considerations and programmatic manifestations. Communication Education 38:364–371.

    DOI: 10.1080/03634528909378777

    The author differentiates between the terms “communication” and “instruction”; in doing so, she provides a clear distinction between the purposes and aims of “communication education” and “instructional communication.” She explains how the then-graduate program in speech communication at the University of Washington represents the interface between communication and instruction.

  • Staton-Spicer, A. Q., and Donald H. Wulff. 1984. Research in communication and instruction: Categorization and synthesis. Communication Education 33:377–391.

    DOI: 10.1080/03634528409384767

    The authors provide a review of 186 instructional communication articles published in communication journals from 1974 to 1982. They identify six categories of research: teacher characteristics, student characteristics, teaching strategies, speech criticism and student evaluation, speech content, and speech communication programs. They conclude by posing several questions for future research within each category.

  • Waldeck, Jennifer H., Patricia Kearney, and Timothy G. Plax. 2001. Instructional and developmental communication theory and research in the 1990s: Extending the agenda for the 21st century. In Communication yearbook. Vol. 24. Edited by William B. Gudykunst, 207–229. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

    The authors identify eleven theories associated with instructional and developmental communication research, identify six categories (student communication, teacher communication, mass-media effects on children, pedagogical methods/technology use, classroom management, and teacher-student interactions) of research conducted during the 1990s, and provide a research agenda for future instructional and developmental communication researchers.

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