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How teachers talk to students: An analysis of oral communication in middle school classrooms

27 January 1993


Conducting research in the area 'of communication is a tedious and sometimes confusing task to undertake. The more we learn about how humans communicate and process information; the more we realize how much there is yet to learn and discover about this exciting phenomenon.

This study is designed as insight into the world of classroom communication, more specifically, how teachers talk to students. Its relevance for both current and future teachers lies in getting us to think about the nuances of our own speaking style, particularly looking at three specific communicative situations.

Four different middle school teachers are observed and analyzed in the following three areas: (1) Making requests of students, (2) posing questions to students, and (3) Giving feedback to students.

The observations are narrated 'from a fictional sixth grader's point of view, his experiences and thoughts about the first day of middle school and his impressions of the different teachers he encounters. This allows for some speculation on my part of how a sixth grader might react in this situation based on my own observations from an adult's perspective and my own fading memories of being in sixth grade.

I hope readers find this study enlightening and helpful in exploring other facets of communication in teaching. The research in this area only begins to address this topic but will undoubtedly grow ' in the years to come as will the need for more competent . communicators in the classroom.


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