Editorial

Communication and Academic Performance

Parralax

Communication is the process of creating and stimulating understanding and relationships. Communication also involves sharing meanings and is a two-way process that involves a source, often referred to as initiator or encoder, a message, a channel, a receiver and feedback mechanism. Communication plays a central role in our lives as we are surrounded by others trying to understand them and hoping that they understand us; friends, family, teachers, co-workers and even enemies. We speak, listen, read and write so much because we know that communication fulfills several important functions for us.
Communication is a systematic process in which people interact with and through symbols to create and interpret meaning. This description has four facts thus, process, systematic, symbolic, and meanings. Communication, as a process, means that it is ongoing and always in motion. It is hard to tell when communication starts and stops because what happened before we talk with someone may influence our interaction and what occurs in a particular encounter may affect the future. Secondly, that communication is a process means changing continuously. We cannot freeze communication at any one moment.
Communication takes place within systems and a system consists of inter-related parts that affect one another. In a teaching environment for instance, the teacher and the learner are part of the system in which it takes place. Communication is symbolic because it relies on symbols which are abstract, arbitrary and ambiguous representation of other things. The domain of symbols connotes language which is sub-divided into verbal and non-verbal communication. Communication is abstract which means that words are not concrete or tangible phenomena. Words stands for ideas, people, events objects, feeling and so forth, but are the things they represent.
Communication is arbitrary which means that verbal symbols are not intrinsically connected to what they represent. For instance, the word modem has no natural relationship to the instrument that allows us to connect to the internet and web. Certain words seem right because as a society we agree to use them in particular ways but they have no internet correspondence with their referents. Meanings appear arbitrary instead of necessary, so they change overtime. The world apple used to refer exclusively to a fruit and mouse used to refer to a rodent’ whereas today both words are also used in reference to a brand of computers and an accessory. Through communication, commentators have enlarged the vocabulary with such terms on the same-page, welfare, gender mainstreaming.
Communication can also be ambiguous, which means it may not have a clear-cut, precise meaning. This could be cultural barriers and individuals experiences. In communicating or learning to communicate, we ought to be conscious of not only the words but also the meanings and value of our society.
The preceding finally focuses on meanings, which are the heart of communication and learning. Meanings are the significance we bestow on phenomena, or what they signify to us. We do not find meanings in experience itself, instead we use symbols to create meanings. We therefore actively construct meaning by interacting with symbols. Reflecting on the evolution of communication, it is logical to assert that the field has moved increasingly towards a meaning-centered view of human communication.
Teaching on the other hand, is an art as well as science. Science describes, explains and imitates nature. For instance, our observation of children reveals that ‘normal’ children may first walk anytime from seventh month to the second birthday or even beyond. It is also true that within this two year period, each child starts to walk when he is ready. Some may walk at the age of seven months, some when they are twelve months and others when they are twenty four months. The same thing happens with talking. Each child talks when his organs of speech are ready and when his environment encourages it. These times are not the same for every child.
In each of the above case, no parent, baby sitter, or even physician has pre-determined the hour of the day or even the month when the child will talk or walk. Instead, parents parent and parent substitutes persist in teaching their children to talk or walk with the hope that one day the child will be able to talk or walk. One lesson education should learn from this is that there are differences between human beings in the way they learn and function.Closely related to teaching is learning. This can be described as a process through which behaviour is initiated, modified or changed. The emphasis is of the process. The process takes many phases ranging from simple to complex and from physical to mental.
Relatedly, there are three factors operational during learning thus, organism, activities and goals. An organism, in our context, may be a student or learners, activities may be covet (mental image of something) or overt (practical application such as dissecting a bird) and goal (achievement gained). While teaching and learning are twins that remain inseparable in knowledge acquisition, teachers and students need to give ultimate cooperation in order to achieve success. Teaching and communication, on the other hand, have a symbiotic relationship as both verbal and non-verbal communication approaches are inevitable in teaching.
Academic performance is the outcome of the Teacher-Learner interface. One of the symptoms of academic performance of students is the use of teaching-learning materials for instructional delivery. The materials are meant to facilitate learning and are also used for presenting skills and communication to the learner.
For academic performance to thrive, there must be an interplay of teacher and student activity. The domination of these two types of activity shows whether the approaches or methods of teaching used by the teacher is/are learner-centered or teacher-centered. The learner-centered approach places interest in the students’ ability, experiences, interest and aptitude. The teacher is expected to provide the learning situation and motivate the students to carry on with their learning.
Communication is an ongoing dynamic process, successful when we deliver the message in a clear consistent and concise manner. Performance of teachers whether in the classroom or online totally depends on communication skills and this can facilitate students’ academic performance as well. Teaching in relation to education implies communication between a teacher and a learner with the intention of guiding the later to acquire information, knowledge, develop skills and positive attitudes.
Effective teaching thrives on four main strategies thus, verbal communication, non-verbal communication, visual communication, and instructional strategies. There are also new technologies in teaching and learning. Communication can thus provide a basis for dismantling any elements of misinformation, misinterpretation, misconception and even distrust. Communication in whatever form is also basically purpose-oriented. For enhanced students’ academic performance, there must be effective teaching and other conducive environmental factors. Arising from these strategies, it is evidently clear that communication, when properly applied, can enhance students’ academic performance.

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