Communication Barriers and Their Solutions

Our first step in rectifying this process is identifying individual and group barriers we face in a classroom setting and online environment. “Successfully identifying barriers, however, is only one part of a larger process of resolving them” (Sostrin, 2011).

Identifying the barriers may present to be a difficult task. College instructors are responsible for such a wide range of tasks, it can be challenging to find the time necessary to comprehensively analyze such a large undertaking. In order to identify a potential communication barrier the instructor must first assess the academic level of the student and determine whether the student is an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner. For example: If the student is able to better process information by visual stimulation – the best way to communicate with the student may be via email. Or if the student is a auditory learner – the best way to communicate may be through phone or face-to-face conversation. Achieving an in-depth understanding of how the student, or group of students, best communicates will prove to be of value throughout the entire duration of the course.

Teaching in an online environment is very different from teaching in a traditional classroom. The traditional classroom teacher has the benefit of assessing the student’s body language, verbal skills, and social interaction with other students. As an online teacher, you must search and ask for this information, that can otherwise be informally observed. An online instructor can post an announcement or optional questionnaire for their students to complete. The questions on the announcement can be geared to finding out how the student best learns and which ways they feel comfortable communicating with faculty.

Once the information is received from the students it is the responsibility of the instructor to review and apply findings to development of communication techniques. Before beginning a conversation or interaction with the student, especially regarding course content or assignment arrangements, ask the student their preferred method of communication. This will help reduce the amount of misunderstanding or miscommunications in the future. Another way to break down barriers between faculty and students is to ensure the faculty members post instructions to the student for communication. If the professor prefers to be contacted via email or phone – it is suggested you inform the students of this prior to the start of class. Everyone has ways they prefer to be contacted, two-way respect of these wishes between faculty and students, is the key to building strong professional relationships. These are just a few tips to help faculty in reducing miscommunications with students.

References: Sostrin, J. (2011). Transforming Barriers to Learning and Performance. OD Practitioner, 43(2), 14-21. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.