Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

Kelly Rossetto, Ph.D.

Major Advisor

erin d. mcclellan, Ph.D.


Whitney Douglas, Ph.D.


Across pedagogical approaches, silence and speech are rarely recognized as equally important ways to demonstrate knowledge. Favoring speech in the classroom indicates a specific set of assumptions that shows what formal teaching and learning settings should look like. I will approach silence in this study as an opportunity to create space for silent voices and invisible notions of agency. Through an exhaustive literature search and interpretive review of how contemporary pedagogical approaches currently assess silence, I invite the concept of mindful silence into pedagogy as a way to better address the ways that silence - not just speech - can advance teaching and learning. To pursue the inclusion of mindful silence into contemporary approaches to pedagogy I am following the guidelines already provided by a theory of invitational rhetoric. Invitational rhetoric can help mindful silence provide pedagogues and students an alternative pathway to teaching and learning. By reconsidering silence more centrally in interactive pedagogy, a more critical and inclusive classroom—and thus more critically-minded and diverse individuals—can learn how to engage in life-long learning and democratic citizenship in more productive ways. Treating silence as an intentional choice or strategy of teaching and learning thus invites new dimensions of self-reflection, active listening, and deep understanding of other’s perspectives to be included as part of a successful educational process. Long term, it is my hope that embracing mindful silence in pedagogy can change the educational environment but also return our focus on how a healthy democracy functions as a productive balance of thoughtfully speaking and critically listening.