Is it OK to ask? The impact of instructor openness to questions on student help-seeking and academic outcomes

Marina Micari*, Susanna Calkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Instructors’ actions in the classroom matter; what the instructor does and says can impact students’ attitudes about the course and learning approaches, which can in turn impact the quality of their learning. This study examines the relationships among instructor openness to student questions, student help-seeking behavior, and student final grade in lecture-style college/university courses. Two hundred sixty-eight university students completed measures on their perception of instructor openness to questions and their approach to help-seeking in class. Perceived instructor openness and help-seeking were positively related to grade. Help-seeking mediated the relationship between perceived instructor openness to questions and final grade. Participants were also asked for examples of communication behaviors instructors used to either promote or suppress help-seeking; themes emerging from these responses are presented, and implications for instructors are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalActive Learning in Higher Education
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • academic help-seeking
  • active learning
  • classroom communication behaviors
  • student questions
  • student–faculty interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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