Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Michelle T. Violanti

Committee Members

John W. Haas, Kenneth J. Levine, Schuyler W. Huck


This project explores the interrelationships of college student identities, faculty verbal messages, and student outcomes (learner empowerment and learning indicators). To this aim, studies were completed to develop and test new measures, create and test models, and develop an adapted theoretical perspective for identity research. First, traditional approaches to identity in combination with Hecht’s (1993) Communication Theory of Identity were explored and adapted as a basis for the creation of Interactional Theory of Identity (ITI). Second, two measures, College Student Identity scale and Faculty Verbal Messages scale, were developed and tested through factor analysis and revised. Third, the interrelationships between and among the variables as well as the proposed ITI models were tested and revised. This project contributes to research in three main ways. First, results suggest that college student identities are multiple and overlapping. Second, the study provides evidence for the need to examine, or re-examine, factor structures of existing instructional instruments. Third, study results suggest that learning outcomes may not be equivalent and instead may in fact build upon one another. Overall, this study demonstrates that the relationships among college student identities, instructor messages, and learning outcomes are more complex and varied than previously anticipated.

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