Instruction as a Communicative Endeavor

Raphael Kwaning, Purdue University


Instructional theories often view the work of instructors from a psychological perspective while playing little emphasis on the communicative aspects. However, there are vital communicational influences on and implications for instructional practice and the instructional process as a whole. As such, this work begins with the position that instruction is, in its entirety, a communicative process. A comparison is made between the three basic models of communication (transmission, interaction and transaction) and three main educational theories (behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism). This comparison shows that there are alignments between the transmission model of communication and behaviorism, the interactive model of communication and cognitivism, and the transactional model of communication and constructivism. These similarities are explored over three major instructional activities – lesson planning, lesson delivery and assessment. Subsequently, three real-life scenarios were presented to illustrate how the three basic models of communication are manifested in the classroom. Given the applicability of the models of communication to the instructional process, the practical utility of approaching instruction from a communicative perspective is discussed. Potential implications for educational practitioners and scholars are discussed afterwards.




Dixson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Pedagogy|Communication|Educational psychology

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