Section Name

Research Articles


The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly changed the context of higher education during the Spring 2020 semester. As the virus began to spread across the United States, colleges and universities canceled in-person classes and activities, closed campus, and moved all operations online. Within the communication discipline, introductory communication course (ICC) administrators and instructors were not only dealing with these challenges, but they were also navigating the transition of large multi-section, often standardized, courses online at large institutions. This research project used semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 18 ICC administrators from institutions located in 14 states across the Midwest, mid-Atlantic, Southeastern, and West Coast regions of the U.S. to explore how they engaged in relationship management with their instructors and how their approach to relationship management informed their transition to remote learning due to COVID-19. The analysis results in four emerging themes: (1) rhetorical approaches to relationship management, (2) relational approaches to relationship management, (3) relationship management → positive outcomes, and (4) relationship management as central to navigating COVID-19. Based on these findings we suggest a rhetorical/relational goals approach to course administration and offer practical implications ICC administrators can implement to engage in successful relationship management during times of crisis.



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