Closely related to the care pedagogy is the idea of teacher immediacy. The term immediacy connotes a direct connection between instructors and students. Immediacy studies have examined the impact of verbal and nonverbal cues in teaching methods that positively connect with students, ultimately providing an affective learning environment.

Communication research provides strong support for the notion that immediacy behaviors enhance learning in both the affective and cognitive domains (Gorham, 1988). Gorham's early work took the discussion of care pedagogy to a new level by differentiating verbal and nonverbal instructor behaviors and their connections to student learning. According to Gorham, studies have documented the following verbal immediacy behaviors:

1. Willingness to praise or acknowledge students' work

2. Willingness to engage in conversation with students outside the classroom before or after class

3. Faculty self-disclosure by using personal examples to make discussion points

4. Encouraging classroom discussions and hearing the students' opinions

5. Following up on student-initiated topics

6. Flexibility regarding the course requirements and time frames

7. Allowing for feelings in discussions

8. Using humor

9. Supporting an active feedback process with an openness to be accessible to the students outside of class

The nonverbal immediacy behaviors include:

1. Nonintrusive touch

2. Vocal expressiveness

3. Smiling at the class

4. Relaxed body postures

5. Engaging in student eye contact

6. Using body movements as gestures

Gorham found that these specific verbal behaviors, when tied to nonverbal immediacy behaviors, provided an effective instructional interaction that had a positive impact on student's perceptions of the teacher and his or her learning. In keeping with Gorham's study of verbal and nonverbal immediacy behaviors, Frymier (1993) analyzed how immediacy enhanced student motivation for learning. Frymier found teacher immediacy behaviors impacted students' attention level and fostered a sense of relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. Students who began with low motivation exhibited positive motivational changes, but the process had little impact on students who were already highly motivated. Several other investigators found a positive correlation between teacher immediacy and various student responses to courses
and their instructors. In other research, Moore (1996) identified a positive correlation between immediacy behaviors and student ratings of instructors, and Robinson (1995) found nonverbal immediacy and verbal receptivity to be positively associated with affective and cognitive learning. Frymier and Schulman (1994) found verbal and nonverbal immediacy were positively associated with student empowerment, which influenced their self-esteem in the classroom, and Chavez (1994) was able to correlate the concept defined as authenticity with immediacy behaviors. The evidence is overwhelming—using these verbal and nonverbal strategies is a way for teachers to connect with students and to be seen as caring and authentic.

Assessing classroom culture for verbal and nonverbal immediacy is a valuable way to evaluate certain classroom phenomena and pedagogy. When combined with care pedagogy, immediacy theory provides teachers a way to evaluate the subjective and then integrate it into other pedagogical concerns. In addition, the overlap includes discussions regarding authenticity, positive support for the student, use of verbal and nonverbal student acceptance, openness to dialogue in and out of the classroom, and a general sense that these methods support a partnering process that provides a learning-centered classroom.

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