Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

James E. Berry, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth A. Broughton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert D. Carpenter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

G. Russell Merz, Ph.D.h.D.


Some college students who experience discontent with the instructional experience engage in a complaining and problem-solving behavior called instructional dissent. Three types of dissent have been identified: rhetorical, expressive, and vengeful. Student perceptions of instructor power influence if and how students dissent. This study explored the relationship between instructor power and rhetorical dissent. Previous studies measured rhetorical dissent as a single variable incorporating the goal for dissenting and the target for dissent expression, using the instructor in the class as the only target. This study measured dissent goal and dissent target as separate variables and included the instructor in the class and other targets for dissent expression. University undergraduates (N = 713) completing an online survey were asked to recall a very disappointing instructional experience and then asked questions that measured their perceptions of instructor power, their goal(s) for pursuing dissent, and the individuals they targeted with their expressions of dissent. French and Raven’s (1959) five bases of social power were used to measure instructor power. Reward and legitimate power were negatively associated with the rhetorical dissent goal while coercive power was positively associated with this goal. The rhetorical dissent goal was positively associated with the dissent targets this professor, administration, and another professor.