“They helped me through the semester”: electronic instructor messages can foster the instructor-student relationship

Courtney Murray, Jennifer Osterhage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building rapport between instructors and students is a challenge, especially in large classes and in online environments. Previous work has shown that non-content Instructor Talk can foster positive student-teacher relationships, but less is known about non-content talk in electronic instructor messages. Here, we used the established Instructor Talk framework to craft positively phrased electronic messages that were sent through the course’s learning management system to students enrolled in an introductory biology course at a large public institution. We examined both close- and open-ended survey responses (n = 226) to assess students’ perceptions of the electronic messages, the course, and their instructor. Of the established Instructor Talk categories, the building student/instructor relationship category was most memorable to students. Encouragingly, 61% of students indicated they “liked the course more” and 88% indicated they “liked the instructor more” in response to the electronic messages. This demonstrates that implementing positively phrased Instructor Talk into electronic communication is an effective way to build rapport between instructors and students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biology Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Murray and Osterhage.


  • Instructor Talk
  • electronic messages
  • instructor immediacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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