Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Bob Steffes

Second Advisor

Dr. Michiko Nohara-LeClair

Third Advisor

Dr. Roger "Mitch" Nasser


Email is one of the most prolific forms of communication in the world. As colleges and universities move more student experiences online, faculty members and advisors need to understand how to best communicate with students. In an attempt to understand how faculty and advisors write, and, more importantly, how students read, I developed this two-phase mixed methods investigation. In Phase I, I collected nine writing samples from 19 faculty and advisor participants and dissected the samples with Pennebaker Conglomerate’s 2015 Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) program. In a transition phase, I leveraged Phase I data to create an instrument for Phase II. The 37 student participants in Phase II offered insight into their communication preferences through the completion of a questionnaire, writing prompts, and focus groups. Through synthesis of the Phase I and Phase II data, I drew conclusions about differences in students’ perceptions of professor and advisor emails and made recommendations for how university personnel can better communicate with students via email. While results indicated few differences in faculty and advisor participants, student participants favored social communication with faculty members and focused on impersonal objectives when communicating with advisors. Student participants also vocalized a desire for concise, bulleted communication from both faulty members and advisors.


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