Classroom Climate

This module describes how to prepare for developing and creating a positive classroom climate, different techniques to employ in the classroom to achieve this objective, and methods to assess your effectiveness in creating a positive classroom atmosphere.

The classroom climate has a profound effect on students’ learning. College instructors differ in their ability to develop professional but positive emotional relationships with students; you can develop relational competence to offer students a warm invitation to join the classroom community.1 This relationship will increase students’ receptivity to and enjoyment of you, your course, and the subject matter, thus uniting you and your students to achieve course goals.2

Teacher immediacy is also positively related to solidarity, liking, and a positive emotional connection between students and instructors, all of which increase student attention and exchange in the classroom.3 Teacher immediacy motivates students to attend class and study moreand to engage in task-relevant behaviors.4,5,6

Both nonverbal and verbal immediacy positively influence student motivation, and are ultimately associated with increases in student learning.6,7 The interpersonal relationships you create in your classroom community can foster a positive learning climate, and crucially, a higher level of student achievement.8


(1) Hackman, M. Z., Walker, K. B. (1990). Instructional communication in the televised classroom: The effects of system design and teacher immediacy on student learning and satisfaction. Communication Education, 39, 196-206.

(2) Buskist, W., & Saville, B. K. (2001). Rapport-building: Creating positive emotional contexts for enhancing teaching and learning, APS Observer, 13(3) N/A.

(3) Hess, J. A., & Smythe, M.J. (2001). Is teacher immediacy actually related to student cognitive learning? Communication Studies, 52, 197-219.

(4) Christophel, D., & Gorham, J. (1995). A test-retest analysis of student motivation, teacher immediacy, and perceived sources of motivation and demotivation in college classes. Communication Education, 44, 292-306.

(5) Frymier, A. B. (1994). A model of immediacy in the classroom. Communication Quarterly, 42, 133-144

(6) Rodriguez, J., Plax, T. G., & Kearney, P. (1996). Clarifying the relationship between teacher nonverbal immediacy and student cognitive learning: Affective learning as the central causal mediator. Communication Education, 45, 293-305.

(7) Gorham, J., & Millette, D. M. (1997). A comparative analysis of teacher and student perceptions of sources of motivation and demotivation in college classes. Communication Education, 46, 245-261.

(8) Crosnoe, R., Elder Jr., G.H., & Johnson, M.K. (2004). Intergenerational bonding in school: The behavioral and contextual correlates of student-teacher relationships. Sociology of Education, 77(1), 60-81.

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