Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Christine K. Anzur

Thesis Professor Department

Communication and Performance

Thesis Reader(s)

Daniel Hedden


This thesis examined the relationships between instructors and students to determine the effects of prosocial instructor behavior on the college student experience for both in-person and online learning. Study One examined instructor rapport with students and verbal and nonverbal immediacy behaviors in face-to-face classes. Students reported on how their instructor constructed the classroom climate and perceptions of their instructor’s behavior. Results indicated that students’ perceptions of instructor verbal and nonverbal immediacy behaviors were related to lower student communication apprehension with instructors; whereas perceived classroom rapport was related with higher perceptions of their instructor’s credibility and was also related with a lower likelihood for students to engage in expressive and vengeful dissent about their instructor. Study Two used an experimental design to determine which instructor behaviors led to students’ perceptions of rapport, instructor credibility, and engagement in online learning. Results indicated that participants in the high professionalism and high clarity condition perceived more rapport, higher instructor credibility, and were more likely to be engaged in the class compared to participants in the low professionalism and low clarity condition. Perceptions of professionalism, clarity, and verbal immediacy all worked together as a significant model to predict rapport, instructor credibility, and engagement. In combination, this thesis revealed that positive student outcomes are a function of both instructor behavior and the environment they create.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.