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Communication Privacy Management and College Instruction: Exploring the Rules and Boundaries that Frame Instructor Private Disclosures

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This study examines the ways in which privacy rules are developed and boundaries are coordinated within the student-teacher relationship using Petronio's Communication Privacy Management theory as a framework. Forty-one college instructors described the specific criteria they use to develop privacy rules and the conditions under which boundaries become permeable surrounding the private information they shared with their students. Findings suggest that rules were created based on content and relational motivations and contextual factors. Teachers also assessed the risks and benefits to such disclosures and enacted various avoidant strategies to prevent sanctions, damage to their credibility, and to maintain student comfort. Privacy boundaries became permeable based on the relationship with the student and shared experiences. Interestingly, tensions arose for some teachers as they worked to negotiate the desire to remain true to their personal identities and maintain the expectations of their teaching role.
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Keywords: College Teachers; Communication Privacy Management; Self-Disclosure; Student-Teacher Relationship

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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