Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Matthew M. Martin.


Nagging is a persuasive tactic yet to be fully explored in instructional communication. Nagging involves an exchange in which a student makes persistent requests of an instructor who fails to comply. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine nagging in the college classroom in order to ensure nagging was not just an aspect of other instructional concepts. The purpose was also to determine why students choose to nag, to examine the strategies students use to nag, and to examine the perceptions of students and instructors of these strategies. Finally, the purpose was also to examine nagging as a potentially face threatening act as a part of Politeness Theory. Three studies were conducted to explore these problems: study one was conducted using focus group discussions, study two was conducted using an open ended response format in addition to quantitative measures, and study three was conducted using quantitative measures that were completed by both students and instructors. Students report nagging for four different reasons: instructor-related, education-related, affect-related, and preference-related. An earlier typology was modified, and it was found students use seven strategies in order to nag instructors: suggest instructor incompetence, demonstrate frustrations with the instructor, elicit student support, strike a deal, barrage instructor with requests, flatter instructor, and elicit sympathy. Nagging is positively related to three other constructs (persistence, compliance gaining, and student challenge behavior) but still remains a separate construct. Nagging is more threatening to the positive face of both students and instructors than negative face, with the elicit sympathy nag the most threatening to the students' positive face, and the demonstrate frustration with the instructor nag the most threatening to the instructors' positive face. The majority of these face threatening acts are committed off record, or indirectly, and with a degree of ambiguity. While student and instructor perceptions of nagging frequency do not often significantly differ, students perceive all nagging strategies to be significantly more effective and appropriate than instructors.