Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Brandi Frisby


This dissertation examines instructor relational messages during office hours. Office hours are one of the few pedological tools where instructors can engage with their students outside the classroom. Office hours, in general, are widely adopted at many US higher education institutions, yet the context is under-researched and, thus, worthy of exploration. According to rhetorical and relational goals theory (Mottet et al., 2006), some students prefer building relationships with their instructors; others prefer task-focused interactions. To acknowledge the students' relational needs while also addressing students’ academic concerns, instructors could employ instructor immediacy behaviors to achieve simultaneous goals. A 2 x 2 experiment was conducted in which instructor nonverbal and verbal immediacy behaviors were manipulated in a typical professor's office setting to examine causal links with student communication satisfaction, state motivation, student affective experience, and recall. First, results revealed that participants exposed to high levels of nonverbal and verbal immediacy conditions were the most satisfied, motivated, and had higher levels of affective experience. Second, this dissertation provides novel empirical support for the first proposition of RRGT (Mottet et al., 2006) while gaining support for several other propositions of the theory. Third, this research contributes to the limited out-of-class communication (OCC) literature (Goldman et al., 2016) using an experimental design in the office hours context. Fourth, this research expands the concept of OCC to incorporate relational messages while also expanding the field of immediacy research to encompass the OCC context.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

  1. UNITE RPA Predoctoral Research Fellow 2022-2023
  2. Lyman T. Johnson Fellow 2020-2023

Available for download on Monday, May 05, 2025