Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Derek R. Lane


Adjusting one’s communication is a fundamental requirement for human interaction (Gasiorek, 2016a). Individuals adapt communication behavior according to the circumstances surrounding the situation, resulting in different patterns and forms of speech relative to spouses, family members, coworkers, or friends. Yet, researchers in instructional communication have not yet substantially applied adjustment as a theoretical lens for understanding instructor-student classroom interactions (Gasiorek & Giles, 2012; Soliz & Giles, 2014; Soliz & Bergquist, 2016). Apart from overlooking this useful theoretical approach, instructional communication scholarship can also be improved by accounting for 1) shifting group identities in higher education that change how instructors and students communicate, 2) incomplete conceptualizations of student perceptions in existing research, and 3) a consistent lack of concern for the hierarchical structure of educational data. This dissertation seeks to resolve these limitations through an application of one of the most prominent theories of adjustment: communication accommodation theory (CAT; Giles, 1973; Giles, Willemyns, Gallois, & Anderson, 2007a). The research specifically extends the CAT framework to an instructional setting by investigating how student perceptions of instructor nonaccommodation across several modes of communication (i.e., nonverbal, linguistic/verbal, content, support) influence information processing ability, relationships with instructors, and beliefs about instructors. Data were collected from 573 undergraduate students across 38 sections of a basic communication course (BCC). Students completed an online questionnaire assessing perceptions of the appropriateness of their instructor’s behavior (i.e., nonaccommodation), extraneous load, communication satisfaction, instructor-student rapport, instructor credibility, and instructor communication competence. The results first forward a nuanced measure for assessing nonaccommodation in a manner consistent with the theoretical propositions of CAT. Second, a series of analyses using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM; Raudenbush & Bryk, 2002) showed significant associations between perceptions of nonaccommodation across modes and students’ reported classroom outcomes. Interestingly, several of the individual, direct relationships disappeared when multiple modes of nonaccommodation were considered simultaneously, introducing the possibility that individuals may prioritize the appropriateness of certain behaviors within context. The data hierarchy (i.e., students enrolled in course sections) did exert some influence on the relationships between variables, yet the majority of variance accounted for across models occurred at the student level. Implications of the results related to both theory and practice within the basic communication course are presented in the discussion.

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