Skip to main content

Why nonverbal immediacy matters: A motivation explanation

Zachary W. Goldman, PhD A. B. Frymier C. J. Claus
Communication Quarterly. September 23, 2019

View Publication


Instructional communication behaviors have been routinely associated with student learning outcomes for the past 40 years; however, the explanations for why these relationships exist remain somewhat controversial. Specifically, the relationship between immediacy and learning outcomes continues to be disputed. This study used Self-Determination Theory to evaluate the utility of students’ need for relatedness and their intrinsic motivation to learn as sequential mediators of the teacher immediacy-student learning relationships. Results of a structural equation model supported the theory’s hypothesis, as relatedness and intrinsic motivation to learn operated in serial to mediate the immediacy-learning relationship. These results indicate Self-Determination Theory is a well-suited framework for explaining the relationship between instructors’ communicative behaviors (e.g., immediacy) and their effects on student outcomes.