Student Nonverbal Communication in the Classroom
Brock E. Barry, P.E., Ph.D.
This paper was completed and submitted in partial fulfillment of the Master Teacher Program, a 2‐year faculty professional development program conducted by the Center for Teaching Excellence, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, 2011. Do not cite without author’s written permission.
“General George Patton practiced his “war face” in front of a mirror so that he would be perceived as unusually determined, powerful, and brave” (Leathers, 1992, p. 3).
As educators we often look for confirmation that our students are grasping the concepts under discussion. This is frequently referred to metaphorically as a light bulb in or over a student’s head. However, by nature, not all individuals are animated in a way that allows educators to identify their nonverbal communication. Many educators receive formal or informal training in the nonverbal communication that we, as instructors, intentionally or unintentionally exhibit in the classroom. However, rarely does that training include discussion of how to interpret the nonverbal communication of our students. In an environment where educators are consistently attempting to better understand and better communicate with our students, it should be critical that we develop the skills necessary to identify and interpret student nonverbal communication.
Research Question and Method
The author was motivated to execute this study as a means of improving his own nonverbal sensitivity and nonverbal interpretation acumen. The research question around which this study was developed was: “What is the content of the available literature specific to identifying and interpreting student nonverbal communication in a classroom setting?” Building from the research question, the method of ...
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