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E-Mail Bonding: Making the Most of Electronic Communication between Teacher and Student

National Communication Association Annual Meeting,


An instructor's idea of using required e-mail as a communication link with students in the basic public speaking course sprang from his work with Gerald M. Philips in the pioneering reticence program he developed at Penn State University in the 1970s and 1980s. The instructor's focus in teaching a basic communication course has always been more on pre-planning and organizational skills than the mechanics of performance. Two problems seem to consistently surface: learning what difficulties students have in mapping out the logic of the initial structural plan; and identifying and ultimately helping reticent students. For the course, a required e-mail consultation serves as a prelude to assignments. Advantages are that: (1) communication is instantaneous; (2) required e-mail due dates forces students to think out a game plan and preliminaries; (3) e-mail provides teacher and student with a visible record of the exchange; (4) e-mail has the quality of anonymity and privacy that makes it more likely students will be forthcoming about their fears and concerns relative to upcoming assignments; and (5) e-mail can function as a cyber-suggestion box. Flaws include students failing to respond and teachers being overwhelmed with e-mail. E-mail has proven to be a satisfying way to create a bond of communication with students, especially reticent students. (Appendixes contain the syllabus and a series of e-mail exchanges.) (RS)


Zolten, J. (1997). E-Mail Bonding: Making the Most of Electronic Communication between Teacher and Student. Presented at National Communication Association Annual Meeting 1997. Retrieved November 28, 2021 from .

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