The Office of Faculty Development

Best Practices in Communication

Communication is a massive topic with gazillions of rabbit holes you can dive into. Yet it is one of the most important things for you to consider. Quality communication drives connection, understanding, and engagement. 

In this Teaching Guide, we’re going to explore many facets of communication. It is crucial from language barriers, lived experiences, structure, delivery, tone, and tech tools. Speaking of tech tools, I would be remiss not to include the first thing that comes to mind with ‘communication,’ which is email. 

Did you know the average university faculty member works 61 hours/wk? Weekdays consist of 10+ hour days with another 10 hours combined over the weekend.  Of that time, 17% was spent in meetings and 13% in email. TWENTY HOURS EACH WEEK in meetings and emails. Indeed there has to be a way to cut some of the excesses here. In the resources below, you will find some ideas.

Expand All | Collapse All


    Examine selected research on Best Practices in Communication: 

    (2014, March 31). The Long, Lonely Job of Homo Academicus. Boise State University. in new window)

    Fonseca Cacho, J. (2020). Using Discord to improve student communication, engagement, and performance. UNLV Best Teaching Practices Expo. 95. in new window)

    Dickenson, A. (2017). Communicating with the Online Student: The Impact of E-Mail Tone on Student Performance and Teacher Evaluations. The Journal of Educators Online, 14(2). in new window)

    Sarapin, S. H., & Morris, P. L. (2015). Faculty and Facebook friending: Instructor–student online social communication from the professor’s perspective. The Internet and Higher Education, 27, 14–23. in new window)

    Smyth, R. (2011). Enhancing learner-learner interaction using video communications in higher education: Implications from theorising about a new model. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), 113–127.


    Ready to apply Best Practices in Communication to your teaching? Here are some ideas and strategies to get you started:

    • One of the most important aspects is to be authentic to who you are in your communications.
    • Establish Expectations that work for you
      • Choose one primary avenue of written/digital communication (email? Slack? Discord? Pronto?) - It might seem counter-intuitive, but multiple avenues of communication limit its effectiveness.
      • Limit time in these spaces. Turn notifications off. Schedule specific times into your day/week to check in and respond. Be clear on 
      • What is your expected tone & formality? Are you casual or professional?
    • Establish as much face-2-face communication time as possible. Relationships are formed more authentically the more of the other person is seen and heard. Text is not conducive to developing connections.
    • Work to understand communication barriers with historically under-served student groups such as students of color and neuro-diverse individuals.
      • Do some reflection on your communication styles and how they may not translate to different groups.
    • Use tools on BBL to ensure course communications and content are accessible.