Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Brandi N. Frisby


This dissertation examines the relational implications of the presence of mobile technology within the basic communication course. To guide the research and interpret the results Mottet, Frymier, and Beebe’s (2006) rhetorical and relational goals theory is utilized. To investigate this phenomenon a survey design was employed, and participants were asked to respond to open-ended, closed-ended, and descriptive questions. Results of this study shed light upon how and when university students use technology, as well as the positive and detrimental results such usage has upon the development and quality of their relationships in the classroom, both with instructors and other students.

Results from this dissertation revealed that students are frequent and heavy users of mobile technology (particularly “social” applications), but generally do not feel as if they are dependent upon their devices. In open-ended responses, students described ways in which mobile technology facilitated out of class relationships with peers and instructors, but hindered the development of relationship with peers in the classroom; these descriptions aligned with the fact that students who exhibited or experienced phubbing (snubbing someone with one’s phone) described less classroom connectedness than their peers. While differing perceptions of classroom connectedness among students were correlated with differing experiences of phubbing, perceptions of rapport with instructors did not differ significantly among participants. Further, students who were more relationally oriented experienced higher perceptions of classroom connectedness than their more rhetorically oriented counterparts. Finally, students in this study generally prioritized rhetorical instructor attributes over relational ones. These results are further explored in the discussion portion of this dissertation.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)