UAH professor's book examines "Deviant Communication in Teacher-Student Interactions"

Electra Gilchrist-Petty

Dr. Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty, UAH Associate Professor in Communication Arts recently published the book, "Deviant Communication in Teacher-Student Interactions: Emerging Research and Opportunities."

Michael Mercier | UAH

A new book published by a professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) examines deviant behaviors between teachers and students that can occur and disrupt the learning process when instructional communication is not carried out properly.

Deviant Communication in Teacher-Student Interactions: Emerging Research and Opportunities, written by Dr. Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty, an Associate Professor in the UAH Department of Communication Arts (IGI Global 2018), is a reference for the latest approaches and methods in the practice of instructional communications teaching.

The book covers many academic topics including complaints, teacher misbehaviors, student entitlement, teacher communication and technological considerations. The book is designed for teachers, graduate students, academics, professionals, and practitioners interested in the impacts and causes of deviant behavior in teacher-student communications.

Gilchrist-Petty teaches courses in Introduction to Rhetorical Communication, Senior Seminar, Introduction to Journalism, Advanced Media Writing, Small Group Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Research Methods, Communication Pedagogy, Communication and Culture, Persuasion, and the Dark Side of Communication.

"My goal with this volume was to offer a compact, yet critical articulation to instructors regarding some of the challenges they may encounter when teaching or engaging with students. Resources abound on how to structure a classroom by designing a syllabus, grading objectively, and establishing course objectives. Yet, there is a dearth of scholarship that explores many of the menacing situations that may confront teachers," said Dr. Eletra Gilchrist-Petty. "For example, research affirms that Millennials have a high sense of academic entitlement, which often prompts them to feel they are entitled to favorable grades. Moreover, students can be critical judges of faculty based on many factors, including salient identity markers, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, foreign accents, and appearance, just to name a few," she said.

Deviant Communication in Teacher-Student Interactions, Gilchrist-Petty said, talks authentically about how faculty who possess minority identity markers have to work doubly hard to establish and maintain credibility in the classroom. "I also wanted to very much be two-sided with this volume and, therefore, express how deviance is a transactional process in which faculty can also be sources of pedagogical deviance when they misbehave in the classroom, are biased toward certain students, bully students, violate teaching norms, are insensitive to diverse students’ backgrounds, and neglect to incorporate diverse perspectives in the classroom."

A year ago, Gilchrist-Petty co-edited the book Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication, a companion piece in some respects to Deviant Communication in Teacher-Student Interactions.

Gilchrist-Petty said the Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication explored deviance in the contexts of interpersonal communication, organizational communication, health communication, and computer-mediated communication. "Communication pedagogy has always been near and dear to my heart, but we simply ran out of space with the previous volume. With my research sabbatical having been approved for Spring 2017, I immediately decided to make this my next project, where I could explore how deviant behaviors and communication patterns infiltrate the classroom and teacher-student interactions.

"I am currently using an early-released edition of Deviant Communication in Teacher-Student Interactions in my Communication Pedagogy course, which is designed to prepare students for future teaching. Many of the students in this course have immediate aspirations to teach as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). I am hopeful that this volume will greatly assist GTAs, who wear the badge of student-teachers and must, therefore, complete graduate curricula that leave little time to focus on content outside of their substantive classes," Gilchrist-Petty said.

She noted too, that the book is designed to offer GTAs a condensed, yet scholarly compilation of the leading subjects germane to challenging pedagogical situations. Additionally, Gilchrist-Petty said, that some instructors receive much discipline-related training, but minimal, if any, classroom instructional training. "Hence, this book functions as a useful reference tool to assist novice teachers in navigating the often unpredictable classroom environment."

Gilchrist-Petty's areas of research include instructional communication, interpersonal communication, and African American communication from both the quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Her premier edited text is Experiences of Single African-American Women Professors: With This PhD, I Thee Wed (Lexington Books 2011). She has also written articles for many leading scholarly publications, including Review of Communication, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Communication Reports, Journal of the National Academic Advising Association, the Journal of Language and Communication, Communication Teacher, Southern Communication Journal, and The Northwest Journal of Communication.

She has authored a number of book chapters and presented scholarly research at many academic conferences spanning the international, state, and local levels. Additionally, Gilchrist-Petty has held several offices with the National Communication Association (NCA), including chair of the African American Communication and Culture Division (AACCD), Legislative Assembly, Nominating Committee, and Affirmative Action and Intercaucus Committee.

She is the 2012 winner of the Top Research Journal article presented by the AACCD of NCA, and she received the 2012-2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award presented by The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Minority Graduate Student Association. She was previously employed as an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

Gilchrist-Petty earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Communication Studies from The University of Alabama and her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from The University of Memphis.


Dr. Eletra S. Gilchrist-Petty