Instructional Methods: Barriers exist in effective classroom communication; what are they?

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Chapter Eight 

Communication in the Classroom

8d iv). Discuss barriers  to effective classroom communication

In the communication process, a disturbance can arise at every step of the process which can lead to misunderstanding or no understanding at all. This becomes a barrier to the entire process. Among the things that hamper effective communication are:

  • Physical barriers: These refer to the effect of the environment on the message and receiver of the message. In the classroom, the message might be affected by poor acoustics, a noisy environment like if a class is near a bar which plays loud music, a bus stop, mechanical/factory or workshop, a kitchen, a road, etc. The above environments  will either distort the message or distract the attention of the receivers.
  • Psychological barriers:  They  refer to the state of the mind of the learner at the time the message is transmitted. The state will depend on the listener’s attitude towards the subject being taught, the content being delivered and the speaker.
  • Physiological state: This refers to the physical state of the receptor of the message. If the listener is uncomfortable e.g. sick, tired, hungry, frustrated he or she will not give the attention required to interpret a message clearly.
  • Language barrier: Language is a powerful tool in communication and a learner’s tool of learning. Although the teacher’s language is characterized by sophistication and abstraction following his/her accumulative experiences he or she needs to use a language and vocabulary within the learner’s level and experiences, otherwise there will be a communication breakdown. Some of the words, phrases, terms the teacher might use could be having different meanings to him/her or the learners depending on their experiences, background patterns or thought etc.
  • Contradicting verbal and non-verbal messages: The relationship between the messages conveyed, the gestures or bodily movements must be in harmony (harmonious),if the message has to be interpreted properly. Since many of the gestures and movements are culturally determined, the teacher should use only those which are relevant to the cultures of the learner. Otherwise, there will be a communication breakdown.
  • Inadequate communication skills, either by the teacher or the learner: The student, for instance, might have a problem in speaking, writing, listening or in the use of other several modes of communication. This will hinder the understanding of the message.
  • The presence of preferred stimuli: This happens when the learning environment is interrupted by something either within the classroom or outside which attracts or captures the learner’s attention. The learner finds the outside stimuli more interesting than the message being delivered. Thus, there will be competition for attention between the message of the teacher and the stimuli.
  • Disabilities in the receivers of the message: If the listener has a disability such as a partial deafness, blindness, the reception of the message will be poor especially if the listener is stationed far from the source of the message.
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