headshot photo of Dr. Sara LaBelle

Dr. Sara LaBelle

Associate Professor, Assistant Dean of Academic Programs and Faculty Development
School of Communication; Communication Studies
Expertise: College Student-to-Student Communication; Teacher Authenticity; Communication in the Teaching-Learning Context; Prescription Stimulant Misuse
Office Location: Doti Hall 212
Office Hours: T/Th 1 - 3 pm and by appt.
Canisius College, Bachelor of Arts
West Virginia University, Master of Arts
West Virginia University, Ph.D.


Dr. Sara LaBelle (B.A., Canisius College, M.A., Ph.D., West Virginia University) is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies Department and a core faculty member for the Strategic and Corporate Communication (SCC) major in the department. Her primary area of study is in Health Communication, with a secondary area of emphasis in Instructional Communication. Her research focuses on the most effective means of implementing, disseminating, and evaluating health communication campaigns and health information in patient-provider care, as well as on improving the outcomes of these endeavors using knowledge on the teaching-learning process. Her dissertation work focused specifically on developing and validating a stronger measurement of health literacy for use in social science research. Dr. LaBelle has published her work in a number of peer-reviewed journals including Personal Relationships, Communication Education, Western Journal of Communication, The Journal of Health Communication, Southern Communication Journal, and Communication Research Reports. Her work has also been acknowledged for several top paper awards in the fields of instructional and health communication for both regional and national communication conventions. Dr. LaBelle is currently an active member of the Eastern, National, and International Communication Associations.

She teaches courses in group communication, interpersonal communication, health communication, empirical and applied research methods, and introductory courses for the SCC major. Dr. LaBelle also enjoys working with undergraduate students on independent collaborative research projects, and is currently working with students to further explore the impact and influence of health literacy in a variety of health and social contexts.



Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Kreps, G.L., Neuhauser, L., Sparks, L., & LaBelle, S. (2020). Promoting convergence between health literacy and health communication. In R.A. Logan & E.R. Siegel (Eds.), Health literacy in clinical practice and public health: New initiatives and lessons learned at the intersection with other disciplines. Amsterdam: IOS Press.
LaBelle, S., Ball, H., Weber, K. D., White, A., & Hendry, A. (2020). The Rethink campaign to end prescription stimulant misuse on college campuses. Communication Quarterly, 68, 1-28. doi: 10.1080/01463373.2019.1668446
LaBelle, S. (2020). Assessing student precarities in higher education: Our responsibility as teachers and scholars. Communication Education. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2020.1724311
LaBelle, S., & Ball, H. (2019). College student goals in the context of prescription stimulant misuse: An application of goals-plans-action theory. Communication Quarterly, 67, 76-99. doi:10.1080/01463373.2018.1533485
White, A., & LaBelle, S. (2019). A qualitative investigation of instructors’ perceived communicative roles in students’ mental health management. Communication Education, 68, 133-155. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2019.1571620
Cranmer, G. A., & LaBelle, S. (2018). An application of the Disclosure Decision-Making Model to understand high school football players’ disclosures of concussion symptoms. International Journal of Sport Communication, 11, 241-260. doi: doi:10.1123/ijsc.2017-0120
LaBelle, S. (2018). Who Am I to Say Something?”: College students’ perceptions of peer interventions in the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication. doi: 10.1080/17459435.2017.1418415
LaBelle, S., & Johnson, Z. D. (2018). Student-to-student confirmation in the college classroom: The development and validation of the student-to-student confirmation scale. Communication Education, 67, 185-205. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2018.1427879
LaBelle, S. (2017). Preparing to be a strategic communication professional: What can and should you be doing now to prepare for your professional career as a strategic communicator? In J. H. Waldeck, P. Kearney, & T. G. Plax, Strategic Communication at Work. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt. (Invited book chapter)
Goldman, Z. W., Cranmer, G. A., Sollitto, M., LaBelle, S., & Lancaster, A. L. (2017). What do college students want? A prioritization of instructional behaviors and characteristics. Communication Education, 66, 280-298.
Johnson, Z. D., LaBelle, S., & Waldeck, J. H. (2017). A cautious approach to reliance on interpersonal communication frameworks: The importance of context in instructional communication research. Communication Education, 66, 115-117.
Johnson, Z. D., & LaBelle, S. (2017). An examination of teacher authenticity in the college classroom. Communication Education. doi:10.1080/03634523.2017.1324167
LaBelle, S. (2017). College students’ intent to intervene when a peer is engaging in nonmedical use of prescription stimulants: An application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Substance Use & Misuse. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1399421
LaBelle, S. (2017). Publishing journal articles. In M. Allen (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods (April 2017 ed.).
LaBelle, S. (2017). Communication journals. In M. Allen (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods (April 2017 ed.).
LaBelle, S. (2017). Effective instructional practice: Facilitating constructive dissent. Available at natcom.org.
Waldeck, J., & LaBelle, S. (2016). Theoretical and methodological approaches to instructional communication. In P. Witt (Ed.), Communication and Learning, pp. 67-101. Walter de Gruyter: Boston.
Johnson, Z. D., & LaBelle, S. (2016). Student-to-student confirmation in the college classroom: An initial investigation of the dimensions and outcomes of students’ confirming messages. Communication Education, 65, 44-63.
LaBelle, S., & Myers, S. A. (2016). The use of relational maintenance behaviors among sustained friendship types. Communication Research Reports, 33, 310-316.
Johnson, Z. D., & LaBelle, S. (2015). Examining the role of self disclosure and connectedness in the process of instructional dissent: A test of the instructional beliefs model. Communication Education, 64, 154-170.
LaBelle, S., Odenweller, K. G., & Myers, S. A . (2015). Applying instructor communication behaviors and learning outcomes to the pediatrician-parent context. Southern Communication Journal, 80, 55-73.
Kennedy-Lightsey, C. D., Martin, M. M., LaBelle, S., & Weber, K. (2015). Attachment, identity gaps, and communication and relational outcomes in marital couples’ public performances. Journal of Family Communication, 15, 232-248.
LaBelle, S., & Martin, M. M. (2014). Attribution theory in the college classroom: Examining the relationship of student attributions and instructional dissent. Communication Research Reports, 31, 110-116.
Wanzer, M. B., Foster, S. C., Servoss, T, & LaBelle, S. (2014). Educating males about testicular cancer: Support for a comprehensive testicular cancer campaign. Journal of Health Communication, 19, 303-320.
Dillow, M. R., & LaBelle, S. (2014). Discussions of sexual health testing: Applying the theory of motivated information management. Personal Relationships, 21, 676- 691.
LaBelle, S. Booth-Butterfield, M., & Weber, K. (2013). Humorous communication and its effectiveness in coping with interpersonal transgressions. Communication Research Reports, 30, 221-229.
LaBelle, S., Martin, M. M., & Weber, K. (2013). Instructional dissent in the college classroom: A test of the Instructional Beliefs Model. Communication Education, 62, 169-190.
LaBelle, S., Booth-Butterfield, M., & Rittenour, C. E. (2013). Attitudes toward profoundly hearing impaired and deaf individuals: Links with intergroup anxiety, social dominance orientation, and contact. Western Journal of Communication, 77, 489-506.
Krezmien, E., Wanzer, M.B. , Servoss, T., & LaBelle, S. (2011). The role of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertisements and individual differences in getting people to talk to physicians. Journal of Health Communication, 8, 1-18.