Effect of Communication Media on Developmental Relationships: Self-Reported and Observed Behaviors

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Computer-mediated communication, Human computer interaction, Mentor, Training, Distance education

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This study examined the effect of four communication modes (computer-based video teleconferencing, computer-based electronic chat, telephone, and face-to-face) on developmental interactions between dyads; specifically on the transmission of psychosocial versus instrumental information. The dyads consisted of undergraduates at a southeastern university. One member of the dyad was an incoming first year student; the second member was an upper division student who served as a developmental coach. The study was experimental in design, which controlled the amount of interaction, the frequency of interaction, and prior acquaintanceship of the dyadic pair. The small amount of variance attributable to communication mode suggests that people matter more than the machines. Specifically, in terms of implementing non-face-to-face developmental programs, it might be more useful to focus on reducing the variability in the coaches’ behaviors through selection or training, than to focus on communication mode. Additionally, independent observers watched and rated the dyadic interactions to provide a third point of view. There was very little overlap between coach and trainee perceptions, although there was considerable agreement between the raters’ and coaches’ ratings.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Computers in Human Behavior, v. 25, issue 1, p. 233-243