Communicating with the Online Student: The Impact of E-Mail Tone on Student Performance and Teacher Evaluations

Amber Dickinson, Oklahoma State University


Students are more commonly completing coursework online and as such many professors teach online courses. Due to the popularity of online courses and the need for professors to teach in a format varying from the traditional classroom setting, it is important to evaluate whether or not certain teaching approaches, such as establishing rapport, should be altered to accommodate the needs of the online student. While previous research has given some consideration to the importance of verbal immediacy in the online classroom, this research seeks to fill a gap in the online teacher immediacy literature by looking more specifically at instructor tone. Through a two-semester evaluation of online courses, it is evident consideration must be given to teachers establishing a rapport with online students. After evaluating e-mail communication with students and examining student success rates and teaching evaluation data, there is a connection between e-mail tone and student performance in an online class.


professor-student communication, verbal immediacy, professor-student rapport

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