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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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Chapter Seven: Communication and Learning

← 134 | 135 → CHAPTER SEVEN



Learning is fundamental to human development across the lifespan. Most of our understanding of how people learn is based on research conducted in formal educational contexts; however, learning and education occur through a variety of formal and informal life experiences across the lifespan, including conditioning and reinforcement, the development of hobbies, formal education, employment-related training, and travel.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the aspects of communication that impact learning throughout the lifespan in a range of contexts. Toward that end, this chapter examines the concept of learning and its various forms, how learners are socialized to the educational experience; theoretical explanations of how learning occurs; and the role of communication in (a) effective teacher and student behavior, (b) how classrooms are structured and managed, and (c) course-related technology use.


Instructional communication is an interdisciplinary field of research that draws on the research conducted by educational psychology, pedagogy, and communication scholars (Mottet & Beebe, 2006). The nature of instructional communication research allows scholars working in this area to focus on the “communicative factors ← 135 | 136 → in the teaching-learning process that occur across grade levels, instructional settings, and subject matter” (Myers, 2010, p. 149), making it a lifespan approach to education (since it doesn’t focus on a specific grade level or context).

The instructional communication perspective conceptualizes and measures learning in terms of three domains identified by...

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