Nature and outcomes of electronic communication between student teachers and a college faculty member

Helene Fassler Robbins, Fordham University


This study investigated the nature and outcomes of computer-mediated communication between nine student teachers (eight females, one male) from a liberal arts college and a faculty member during a 16-week semester. Electronic messages were the main source for data collection; however, questionnaires and open-ended interviews were also used for comparison purposes. Analysis of the data indicated that the purpose of most of the messages was to share positive experiences and emotions. The topic categories that evoked the largest number of responses were personal comments, university issues, and cooperating teachers. Five pervasive themes emerged from the findings: (a) relief from feelings of isolation, (b) professional growth, (c) appreciation of computer-mediated communication/computer technology, (d) literary style of electronic mail, and (e) changing role of the college faculty member. Students stated that computer-mediated communication did alleviate feelings of isolation during student teaching. Students also demonstrated professional growth through increased independence and reflective thoughts. Consistent appreciation of computer technology was revealed in the messages, interviews, and questionnaires. A distinct literary style of writing was demonstrated in the students' messages. The role of the college faculty member was consistently changing throughout this study. Four hypotheses were generated from the findings: (a) teacher education students need additional support services during their student teaching experience, (b) computer-mediated communication is a way to provide additional support during the student teaching experience, (c) student teachers who participate in computer-mediated communication seem encouraged to use computers with their future students, and (d) there is a distinct literary style to computer-mediated communication. Using computer-mediated communication during the student teaching semester has been found to be a convenient and effective method to provide additional support for interns. This study concluded that the beneficial factors of this form of communication are only beginning to receive recognition.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Educational software

Recommended Citation

Robbins, Helene Fassler, "Nature and outcomes of electronic communication between student teachers and a college faculty member" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9839517.