College students' perception of self-disclosure in the student-instructor relationship
Wiedenhoeft, Jason S.
University of Wisconsin--Whitewater
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A communication construct that relates to student-instructor interaction, both inside and outside of the classroom environment, is self-disclosure. Self-disclosure occurs when an individual tells another individual about him- or herself (Rosenfeld, 1979). This information is typically of a personal nature and not always made available to other individuals. This study used both quantitative and qualitative methods of research to examine the perceptions students have of instructors who self-disclose. Data from a total of four focus groups were used to better understand students’ perceptions and suggest differences in perception that might exist between 4-year university and 2-year college students. Findings of the study focused primarily on self-disclosure as impacting change in the student-instructor relationship, student comfort levels in the classroom, use of instructor self-disclosure by students for personal advancement, and positive perceptions of self-disclosure. The study concludes that students from 4-year university focus groups perceive differences in self-disclosure from instructors across different academic disciplines. Finally, students from 2-year college focus groups generally viewed instructor self-disclosure more positively than students from the 4-year university groups.