Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Daphne Pedersen


The importance of student learning outcomes is apparent. Past research has examined the relationship that students have with their instructors and the impact this has on student learning, yet the concept of social distance in student-instructor relationships has yet to be incorporated. This thesis was conducted to explore student perceptions of social distance. A scale based on the work of Emory Bogardus (1926) was developed and then administered to a sample of introductory level sociology students and upper level sociology students at the University of North Dakota during the Fall Semester of 2007. Based on the findings of this study, it can be concluded that social distance exists across different scenarios. When looking at perceived social distance that students felt towards their instructor as compared to their graduate teaching assistant, statistical significance was found. Students perceived less social distance towards their designated graduate teaching assistant as compared to their instructor in lower level, large enrollment classes. Graduate teaching assistants could ultimately be used as a tool to gain such insight into perceptions, constructions, and misconceptions of students that constructivists find to be crucial in the learning process.