Teacher Influence and Persuasion Essay

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The purpose of teacher influence messages is to change, modify, or shape student thoughts and behaviors in ways that promote engagement with course material and maximize learning.

Researchers have examined four primary strategies for influencing student cooperation and engagement. (1) Classroom management, or the use of policies and structure, is one of the moststudied ways to influence students to spend time on tasks that will enhance learning; however, an overemphasis on rules and structure may demotivate some learners. (2) Mentoring influences students to stay in school, persist in their learning, seek assistance, come to class prepared, and enjoy the learning process. (3) Teachers who make content relevant influence students’ willingness to focus on and retain important information. For example, teachers must ensure the relevance of their disclosures and personal examples to course material to maximize student influence. (4) Power-based strategies are conceptualized and operationalized as specific behavioral alteration techniques and messages teachers use to influence and manage students’ behavior and misbehavior.

Teacher persuasiveness is a function of several antecedents. First, nonverbal immediacy signals perceptions of friendliness, warmth, and interpersonal closeness and can be demonstrated with head nods, smiling, eye contact, vocal expressiveness, gestures, and other nonverbal messages. Research on teacher immediacy has established a consistent, substantial, and positive association with students’ affect toward the teacher, school, and course content, and to a lesser extent, with students’ cognitive learning. Credibility encompasses student perceptions of teachers’ competence, character or trust, and caring. Credible teachers have the potential to positively influence student motivation, evaluations, enjoyment, and willingness to recommend the teacher to others. Another influence strategy is teacher confirmation, or messages designed to recognize learners as valuable and significant. Teachers who engage in confirming behaviors promote motivation to learn, reduced apprehension to communicate in class, increased affective and cognitive learning, and consequently have enhanced power to influence.


  1. Finn, A. N. & Ledbetter, A. M. (2013). Teacher power mediates the effects of technology policies on teacher credibility. Communication Education, 62, 26–47.
  2. Waldeck, J. H. (2007). Answering the question: Student perceptions of personalized education and the construct’s relationship to learning outcomes. Communication Education, 56, 409–432.
  3. Woolfolk, A. (2001). Educational psychology, 5th edn. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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