However, when Putnam and Wilson (1982) developed the Organizational Communication Conflict Inventory (OCCI) they focused on the disagreement phase of conflict. Based on this focus, Putnam and Wilson proposed three conflict management categories: Non-confrontation (indirect approach to conflict management characterized by smoothing and avoidance), Solution-orientation (open and direct discussion of alternatives with compromise as a viable option), and Control (direct confrontation resulting in nonverbal forcing and relentless argument). These three styles could be put on the same continuum.(see Figure 2). The three conflict management styles defined by Putnam and Wilson were used by Wheeless and Reichel (1990), and they will be used in this study as well. Wheeless and Reichel (1990) found a relationship between supervisor conflict management styles and supervisor social style, and it seems logical that there could be a similar relationship operating in the classroom, with immediacy replacing social style.
What is not clear is if such a relationship between instructor conflict management style and instructor immediacy behaviors does exist.Wheeless and Reichel also found a relationship between supervisor conflict management style and task attraction, and Richmond and McCroskey (1979) found a relationship between supervisor conflict management style and employee satisfaction. Thus, it seems probable that a parallel type of relationship exists in the classroom, with student motivation replacing task attraction/employee satisfaction. However, currently there is no clarity on this potential relationship between instructor conflict management style and student motivation.
Research is needed to clarify the potential relationships between instructor conflict management style, instructor immediacy, and student motivation. Student Motivation Motivation can be defined as a process that involves student energy, student volition, student purpose/direction, and student involvement (Wlodkowski, 1978). The literature further dichotomizes the term into state motivation and trait motivation (Christensen & Menzel, 1998; Christophel, 1990).
State motivation is the motivation that a instructor can most easily influence (Christophel).State motivation is highly situational and can be viewed in terms of the student’s attitude toward a particular course (Christensen ; Menzel; Frymeir, 1993). Trait motivation is internal, stable, and enduring motivation (Christophel). It is an intrinsic trait students possess with regard to their predisposition toward learning, and as such, it is not much impacted by situational variables (Christensen ; Menzel; Frymeir). This study will focus on state motivation because it is the type that is most easily influenced by instructor behavior (Christophel).There is research indicating that student motivation can be correlated with instructor immediacy (Brophy, 1983; Christophel ; Gorham, 1995; Gorham ; Millette, 1997; Richmond, 1990). There is further evidence of a direct relationship between state motivation and instructor immediacy behaviors (Christensen ; Menzel, 1998; Christophel, 1990). If a relationship is found between immediacy and conflict management style, then there could also be a relationship between conflict management style and student motivation.
Research is needed to determine the relationship, if any, between instructor conflict management style and student motivation. Purposes and Objectives This study seeks to quasi-replicate the study done by Wheeless and Reichel (1990). Previous research has not investigated two potential relationships: between instructor immediacy behaviors and instructor conflict management style and between instructor conflict management style and student motivation.This study will also investigate the previously researched relationship between instructor immediacy and student motivation.
Hypothesis and Research Questions Wheeless ; Reichel (1990) examined the relationship between supervisor conflict management style and supervisor social style, and this study postulates that a similar relationship will be found between perceived instructor conflict management style and perceived instructor immediacy.Based on Wheeless ; Reichel’s results, the following hypothesis is proposed. Wheeless & Reichel (1990) also examined the relationship between task attraction and supervisor conflict management style. Again, this study postulates that similar relationships will be found between student motivation and perceived instructor conflict management style.
Based on Wheeless & Reichel’s results, the following hypothesis is proposed.