The Schramm Model of Communication Theory

Wilbur Schramm introduced a theory on the process of human communication in 1951. He introduced the concept of ‘field of experience’ in human communication. Schramm theory indicates communication and feedback occurs simultaneously. This process is also known as transactional communication.

Schramm Model

Transactional Communication vs. Linear and Interactive Communication

  • Linear (one-way communication) * no feedback
  • Interactive (two way communication) * delay feedback
  • Transactional (two way communication) * spontaneous feedback

Schramm Theory of Human Communication

  • Communication is a process which requires the sender to compose suitable symbols and signs (encoder) to be disseminated to the receiver who will then give meaning to the received message (decoding and interpreting) before sending another message back to the sender (feedback) and the process repeats itself.
  • The sender of the message constructs and conceptualises a message using signs and symbols (encoding)
  • The receiver receives the message either verbally or non-verbally (decoding)
  • The receiver then assign meaning to the message received (interpreting)
  • The receiver then becomes the sender by providing feedback to the message received

Encoder: “the process of translating a message into code” – proses menterjemahkan mesej kepada kode.

Interpreter: “an act of assigning meaning to a code or symbol” – proses memberi makna kepada kode atau simbol

Decoder: “the act of translating from code symbols into ordinary language” Cassell Popular English Dictionary (1995:813). Decoder can be done either manually or by means of technology (decoding machines)

According to Schramm, effective human communication occurs when:

1. The message is understood between sender and receiver

“a message is any symbol or collection of symbols which has meaning or utility” – mesej adalah apa jua simbol atau koleksi simbol yang mempunyai makna atau yang boleh digunakan

“a character or letter accepted as representing or signifying something, idea, relation, process etc” Cassell Popular English Dictionary (1995:832)

“a symbol is anything which is created to refer to something else” Gilchrist, J. (1990)

2. Communication Skills (sender and receiver)

  • choosing the right symbols to communicate
  • combination of verbal and non-verbal communication during interaction. example: ‘peace sign’ expressions of feelings
  • Encoder should focus on the frame of reference of the receiver example: communicating about extreme cold weather

3. Providing Feedback

  • feedback has to be immediate (preferably)
  • feedback is most effective if done face-to- face
  • feedback using media (internet, phone calls, letters etc) is less effective due to delay time factor
  • feedback should be genuine, honest and reliable

4. The level of knowledge of the sender/receiver regarding the message sent/received

  • knowledge about the topic
  • high level of knowledge of sender may have a high level of influence on the receiver
  • knowledge is consistent with the sender/receiver level of experience
  • knowledge is also the result of exposure to the environment