First Advisor

Susan B. Poulsen

Term of Graduation

Spring 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Self-disclosure -- Case studies, Students, Foreign -- Attitudes, Teacher-student relationships, Intercultural communication, Interpersonal relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 158 pages)


Self-disclosure as an interpersonal concept was developed almost 40 years ago with the work of Sydney Jourard (1964). Although the original definition included nonverbal forms of communication, the concept has evolved since then into an 'intentional act of sending verbal information about one's self (Collins & Miller, 1994; Cozby, 1972; Wheeless, 1976; Wheeless & Grotz, 1977). In contrast, the present study broadened the definition for self-disclosure to include nonverbal behaviors and took a new methodological approach to understanding the effects that self-disclosure can have for international students in the communication classroom context.

Teacher self-disclosure from the perspectives of international students is an unexplored area and therefore a phenomenological, qualitative case study approach utilizing both focus groups and individual interviews was most appropriate given the purpose and population. Schutz's (1932/1967) social phenomenology and Philipsen's (1982) case study provided the theoretical framework, while Seidman (1998), Luborsky (1994) and Lofland and Lofland (1995) were combined methods used for data collection and subsequent analysis.

Based on analysis of the data, this study revealed findings significant to understanding self-disclosure in terms a receiver model for communication. Whereas research in self-disclosure has primarily relied on a sender-centered model of communication, a receiver-centered model was more appropriate for understanding international students' perspectives. Distinctive nonverbal features considered by participants as sources of information about the teacher included time, silence, space and distance, and body behavior. International students of this study seemed to be using both verbal and nonverbal behavior as information regarding the teacher.

Understanding the impact that teacher nonverbal behavior has on the relationship, more specifically the learning experience of international students, has the potential to maximize learning outcomes in the communication classroom for all students. This thesis proposes a more complete definition for self-disclosure, one that includes nonverbal behaviors as sources of information about the teacher. Based on a composite of the a priori and data-driven definitions in this study, a working definition was created for future explorations of self-disclosure.


In Copyright. URI:

This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Persistent Identifier