Talk Matters: Investigating the Nature of Non-Content Classroom Language – Instructor Talk – that May Mediate Student Inclusion, Engagement, and Learning

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Kimberly Tanner, Ph.D.
Professor & Director of The Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory (SEPAL)
Department of Biology
San Francisco State University

Through the language they use, instructors create classroom environments that have the potential to impact learning by affecting student motivation, resistance, belonging, and self-efficacy. However, despite the critical importance of instructor language to the student experience, little research has investigated what instructors are saying in undergraduate classrooms. We systematically investigated instructor language that was not directly relate to content and defined this as Instructor Talk and identified five robust categories of Instructor Talk that can characterize ~90% of non-content language found in over 60 courses: 1) Building Instructor/Student Relationships, 2) Establishing Classroom Culture, 3) Explaining Pedagogical Choices, 4) Sharing Personal Experience, and 5) Unmasking Science. The remaining ~10% of instances of Instructor Talk in these settings were categorized as negatively-phrased or potentially discouraging in nature. Attention to Instructor Talk in undergraduate classrooms may be key for instructors to create inclusive learning environments and promote student learning.

Hosts: Drs. Chrissy Spencer and Colin Harrison


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Jasmine Martin
  • Created:01/31/2020
  • Modified By:Jasmine Martin
  • Modified:01/31/2020