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Teacher/Student Communication: Getting it Wright

Dr. Courtney WrightCommunication Studies Assistant Professor Courtney Wright is on a mission to help students and teachers improve their ability to communicate with each other. Her interest in this topic began when she observed relational communication challenges between students and teachers during her teaching experiences in middle school and high school. This sparked her interest in interpersonal communication and led to her decision to obtain a Ph.D. in communication studies from Northwestern University.

Wright’s current research program examines relational communication and conflict. In instructional settings, she investigates difficult student-teacher interactions, with special attention to academic disappointment and the factors that influence how undergraduates communicate with instructors about grades. Her research identifies functional and dysfunctional communication strategies as well as factors that dissuade students from discussing disappointing grades with instructors. These findings offer unique insights into how instructors can manage grade conversations more effectively and improve students’ overall educational experiences.

Wright also conducts research on close relationships examining the use of constructive and destructive communication strategies and their implications for relational experiences and well being. Her work has included investigations of social confrontation, the use of the silent treatment, dysfunctional relationship beliefs, impression management, and teasing. She recently received a 2013-2014 SEC Faculty Travel Grant to collaborate with a colleague at Louisiana State University on research examining social cognition and teasing.

Since joining the faculty in 2008, Wright has written several peer reviewed articles and book chapters focused on the topics of grade conversations, relational conflict, and teasing. Her work has been recognized with a number of awards including: CCI’s 2013 Faculty Research Award, two top paper awards from the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA),  and the 2010 Outstanding Educator Award from the Peabody Roundtable at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.

“Courtney Wright is a rigorous and productive scholar/teacher,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “Her research focuses on important topics and her research findings can help reduce relational/interpersonal conflict in a number of settings.”  Wright’s research aides our understanding of relational communication, interpersonal conflict and instructional communication challenges.  To learn more about her work, see http://www.cci.utk.edu/users/courtney-n-wright