Relating student recall to expert and novice teachers' instructional communication: an investigation using receiver selectivity theory
Background: Research indicates expert and novice teachers communicate differently during instruction. However, these differences have yet to be investigated in relation to student learning. Receiver selectivity theory offers an interpretive framework for understanding how expert-novice communication differences might function to discriminate student learning when it is defined as the student’s ability to recall the most important information the teacher intended to communicate. Purpose: This study examined expert and novice golf instructors’ communication and student learning using receiver selectivity as a theoretical framework. Specifically, student recall was investigated in relation to the teachers’ communication behaviors and the perceived outcomes of these behaviors. Participants and setting: Stage theory guided the selection of four expert and four novice female golf instructors (n ¼ 8). Eight students, who were male and female and varied in age (19–26) and skill level, were also recruited for participation. This study was conducted at two golf course driving ranges in Orlando, Florida and by telephone from the researcher’s university. Study design: This study employed a qualitative research design to provide a descriptive account of expert and novice golf instructors’ communication from the perspective of the teachers’ students, identify perceived outcomes of teacher communication, and examine student recall. Receiver selectivity theory guided data collection and interpretation of the results. Research techniques were drawn from seminal sourcebooks on semi-structured interviews and data management/reduction. Data collection: Students were assigned to take an individual lesson on the full swing with either an expert or a novice teacher. Following their lessons, the teachers were asked to identify the target information they had intended to communicate to their students. Two weeks later, students were asked by telephone to identify the most important information from their lessons, to describe their teachers’ communication behaviors, and to discuss the perceived outcomes of their teachers’ communication. Data analysis: Teacher and student perceptions of target information were compared to determine if students recalled what teachers had intended to communicate in their lessons. Inductive analysis was used to find patterns of expert and novice communication behaviors. Student interviews were searched for statements about perceived outcomes of teacher communication. Findings: Seven of the eight students recalled the target information their teachers had intended to communicate. Themes in the teachers’ communication behaviors revealed expert-novice differences but perceived outcomes of teacher communication were positive – and in some cases, the same – for both groups. Conclusions: Positioned against receiver selectivity theory, the findings indicate both expert and novice teachers successfully engaged students in the learning process. Teacher behaviors (both expert and novice) and their perceived outcomes support previous research highlighting strategies for increasing student learning. Distinctive elements of this study, including nonverbal behaviors that were featured and the one student to one teacher ratio, are important considerations for explaining divergent findings between this study and those of previous research comparing the expositive discourse of expert and novice classroom teachers.