Communication in a classroom involves more than an exchange of words. The role of communication includes conveying expectations, discussing course-related topics through meaningful interactions, and providing feedback for class assignments. Understanding how the process of communication occurs will allow an instructor to communicate effectively with his or her learners, which in turn will model meaningful communication for learners to follow.
The communication process begins when the sender of a message has an idea, a thought, or information that they want to convey, give, or share with the receiver. Those ideas, thoughts, or information are shaped, formed, or altered by internal filters that include biases, personal opinions, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, prejudices, and feelings towards or about the receiver. These ideas, thoughts, and information may start out in one form, and then after internal processing they may evolve into another form. It is after this split second filtering that the communication message is formed and delivered, verbally or in writing.
The receiver is now in receipt of the message and the communication process continues with his or her own internal processing. The message, and the meaning of that message, is internally processed and interpreted. The same type of internal filtering process utilized by the sender is also utilized by the receiver and includes biases, personal opinions, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, prejudices, and general feelings they may have towards or about the sender.
The next step in the communication process is the reaction of the receiver, which may result in the form of words or actions. In a classroom environment, if an instructor is the sender and the learner feels that they are in a position where they cannot speak; their reaction may not be words but actions. Those actions may include withholding their participation in a class discussion or minimizing their involvement and overall performance in the class.
Communication is a complex process, yet one that occurs quickly. Adults are often unaware of the extent of these built-in processes and filters. The ability to utilize critical thinking can increase an awareness of potential barriers to effective communication. An instructor who communicates effectively with a diverse population will limit the impact of biases, personal opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and prejudices. This is possible by performing a communication self-check and considering what is said and written, along with the intended audience, and how the message may be received and the potential resulting reaction of the receiver.