DOC

Public speaking anxiety is very common among both college students

By Patrick Sanchez,2014-05-09 21:59
6 views 0
Public speaking anxiety is very common among both college students

    COPING WITH PUBLIC SPEAKING ANXIETY

    Moira Kostić-Bobanović, Ph.D.

    Head of department of foreign languages

    Faculty of Economics and Tourism, Preradovićeva 1, 52100 Pula

    Marša Bobanović

    University of Zagreb

    Student of the Faculty of Economics and Business, Zagreb

    e-mail: moira.bobanovic@efpu.hr

Abstract

    The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the teaching of affective strategies helps students’ reduce their public speaking anxiety. We used the questionnaire Personal Report of

    Public Speaking Anxiety (PRPSA) developed by McCroskey (1970; 1992) in order to

    determine the level of anxiety that a student experiences while holding a speech. At the beginning of the semester, the students were asked to fill out the questionnaire by approximating the level of distress that they experience while holding a public presentation. After the teaching of affective strategies at the end of the semester, the students were given the same questionnaire, with the above described instructions.

    The results of the study indicate that the students experienced significantly less anxiety after they had been taught how to manage their distress, by means of affective strategies. The implication for future research on assessment and amelioration of public speaking anxiety are considered.

Key words: speaking anxiety, affective strategies, public speaking

1. INTRODUCTION

    Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and apprehension or fear caused by the anticipation of something threatening. Public speaking anxiety is very common among both college students and the general population.

    Persons with public speaking anxiety often avoid anxiety-producing social or performance situations, but when unavoidable, these situations are endured with feeling of intense anxiety and distress. Also, anticipatory anxiety frequently occurs as an individual imagines the situation in advance of the actual experience (e.g., worrying each day about a presentation to be given in a class several weeks in the future). Although individuals with these types of anxious responses often recognize that their fear is excessive and/or unreasonable, they are unable, without assistance, to change their responses in these situations. Individuals with public speaking anxiety most often experience a variety of symptoms in a public speaking situation, including palpitations, sweating, gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, muscle tension, and confusion. (North & Rives; 2001) Burnley et al.(1993) states that, “Approximately 85 percent of the general population report experiencing some level of anxiety about speaking in public. Rossi and Seiler (1989) indicate that, “Public speaking or

    stage fright has been investigated and studied since the mid-1930’s.

    Many people who speak for a living, including actors, businesspeople, and politicians, experience public speaking anxiety. In fact, some of these experienced public speakers feel that a little nervousness before a performance or speaking engagement gives them the ability to perform at their best. However, for some people the anxiety becomes so intense that it interferes with the ability to perform at all.

     In the case of students, this may lead to avoiding certain courses or even majors where oral presentations are required, never speaking in class, or deciding against certain careers because they would require occasional speaking before a group. Students who are very anxious about public speaking in class may sometimes also avoid social events they would like to attend or may not talk to classmates they would like to get to know.

    Foreign language anxiety has been said by many researchers to influence language learning. Whereas facilitating anxiety produces positive effects on learners' performance, too much anxiety may cause a poor performance (Scovel, 1991).

     1

    Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1991) have found that anxiety typically centers on listening and speaking. Speaking in class is most frequently difficult for anxious students even though they are pretty good at responding to a drill or giving prepared speeches. Anxious students may also have difficulties in discriminating sounds and structures or in catching their meaning. Price (1991) investigated by asking questions about what made students most anxious in foreign language class. All of the subjects answered that having to speak a foreign language in front of other students resulted in the most anxiety.

    According Beatty, 1988; Beatty, Balfantz & Kuwabara, 1989; Beatty & Frieland, 1990 public speaking anxiety may stem from numerous sources, such as public speaking skills, fluency in a foreign language, emotional predispositions towards public speaking, and characteristics of the public speaking situation itself.

    The purpose of this study was to determine whether the teaching of affective strategies helps reduce high levels of public speaking anxiety.

2. METHODS

2.1. Sample

    The research was carried out on a total of 202 subjects, freshmen students majoring in tourism, marketing, finances, management, and informatics at the Faculty of economics and tourism “Dr. Mijo Mirković” in Pula. All of the subjects were fulltime students. There were 75 male

    students (37%) and 127 female students (63%). They attended lectures in Business English 6 hours per week.

2.2. Procedure and Instruments

    The research was carried out in two phases. The first measuring was conducted at the beginning of the first semester.

    In the first phase of research the students were asked to fill out the Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety (PRPSA) (McCroskey, 1970; McCroskey & Richmond, 1992) questionnaire by approximating the level of distress that they experience while holding a public presentation. Then, they were taught how to use 9 affective learning strategies in order

     2

    to reduce public speaking anxiety during one semester or 90 hours of English language lectures.

    The following 9 affective strategies were adapted from the questionnaire developed by Kostić-Bobanović (2004):

    ; I try to relax my muscles by breathing deeply every time I feel nervous about

    speaking English.

    ; I listen to music for relaxation.

    ; I laugh in order to relax, whenever I feel nervous about speaking English.

    ; I make encouraging statements to myself to take wise risks in language learning

    even though I might make some mistakes.

    ; I give myself a reward when I have done something well in my language learning.

    ; I pay attention to physical signs of stress.

    ; I use a list in which I register my feelings, motivation and attitudes about English

    language learning.

    ; I write down my experiences in a language learning diary.

    ; I talk to someone I trust about my feelings concerning the language learning process.

    In the second phase, after the teaching of affective strategies at the end of the semester, the students were given the same PRPSA questionnaire, with the above described instructions. The questionnaire consists of 34 questions measuring feelings associated with giving a presentation and has been reported to be unidimensional. Subjects were asked to indicate the degree to which the statements apply to them, by marking whether they strongly agree (1), agree (2), are undecided (3), disagree (4), strongly disagree (5) with each statement. It is highly reliable (alpha estimates > .90).

    Richmond and McCroskey (1998) reported that normalized PRPSA scores fall into five categories (numbers in parentheses are percentages of a normalized population fitting each category): scores of 3484 indicate low anxiety (5%); 8592 moderately low anxiety (5%);

    93110 moderate anxiety (20%); 111119 moderately high anxiety (30%); and 120170 high

    anxiety (40%). Mean scores on the PRPSA have rarely been reported, as the instrument was designed and used primarily for identifying highly anxious students. “Highly anxious” is

    defined operationally as someone with a PRPSA score equal to or greater than 120. The questionnaire is scored by first summing the 22 positive items, then summing the scores of the reversed items, and finally subtracting the total from 132. Scores range from 34 to 170, with a higher score representing more public speaking anxiety.

     3

    The questionnaire was completed without any personal identification (except sex and code) to insure anonymity and increase the probability of honest responses.

    The reliability of the scale in this investigation is .86.

2.3. Data analysis

    The results from the questionnaires were processed using SPSS for Windows (Statistical Package for Social Sciences). The difference between public speaking anxiety in the first and second semester was investigated by paired t-tests.

3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Table 1: PRPSA at the beginning and end of the semester

    CATEGORIES NUMBER OF STUDENTS

    OF ANXIETY BEGINNING OF SEMESTER END OF SEMESTER

    Low 14 37

    Moderately low 18 28

    Moderate 80 101

    Moderately high 39 23

    High 51 13

    With regards to the PRPSA scores, at the beginning of the semester a great number of our students experienced significantly high (51) and moderately high (39) levels of public speaking anxiety (Table 1).

    After the teaching of affective strategies the PRPSA numbers significantly varied in comparison with the previous attained results. Namely, a significantly smaller number of students reported high (13) and moderately high (23) levels of distress while speaking in

     4

    public. Therefore, a significantly greater number of students reported low (37) and moderately low (28) levels of public speaking anxiety.

    Graph 1: Comparison of the percentage of anxiety levels between the beginning and the end

     of the semester

    60%

    50%

    40%

    30%

    20%

    10%

    Percentage of respondents % 0%

    LowModeratelyModerateModeratelyHigh

    LowHigh

    First semestarLevel of anxiety

    Second semestar

    We wanted to investigate the difference in communication competence between the beginning and the end of the semester and that’s why we used a paired t-test.

    A paired samples t-test indicated that there is a statistically difference between the above mentioned periods.

    At the beginning of the semester students PRPSA was significantly higher then at the end of the semester, t = 4,137; p< .001. According to t-test results we may conclude that the use (2O2)

    of affective strategies reduce high levels of public speaking anxiety.

    4. CONCLUSION

     5

    Fear of public speaking is a very common form of social phobia. Individuals who fear speaking in public may find their career choices limited and avenues for promotion closed to them, resulting in considerable personal distress, frustration, and depression.These individuals may underachieve at work or at school because of anxiety and often avoid speaking in classroom situations. In more severe cases, they may drop out of school rather than face a feared situation, such as a class with mandated oral reports that constitute a significant proportion of the final course grade.

    The purpose of this research was to investigate if the use of affective strategies will reduce levels of public speaking anxiety. The results of the study indicate that the students experienced significantly less anxiety after they had been taught how to manage their distress, by means of affective strategies.

    Anxiety is typically understood as a physiological response. We can’t make it go away, but

    we can help it work for us instead of against us. According to results a great number of our students were able to change their perception of their anxiety level by the end of the course. Although teaching how to manage students’ distress by means of affective strategies appears

    to be an effective way of reducing self-reported public speaking anxiety, future research needs to assess the casual nature of public speaking anxiety among college students.

LITERATURE

     6

    ; Beatty, M.J., & Friedland, M. H. (1990). Public speaking state anxiety as a function of

    selected situational and predispositional variables. Communication Education, 39,

    142-147.

    ; Beatty, M. J., Balfantz, G. L., & Kuwabara, A. Y. (1989). Trait-like qualities of

    selected variables assumed to be transient causes of performance state anxiety.

    Communication Education, 38, 277-289.

    ; Burnley, M., Cross, P., & Spanos, N. (1993). The effects of stress inoculation training

    and skills training on the treatment of speech anxiety. Imagination, Cognition and

    Personality 12:355-366.

    ; Horwitz, E. K., M. B. Horwitz and J. A. Cope(1991). "Foreign Language Classroom

    Anxiety" in E. K. Horwitz and D. J. Young, Language Anxiety, 27-39. Englewood

    Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    ; Kostić-Bobanović, M. (2004). Učinak poučavanja strategija učenja na razvijanje

    vještine govora u učenju engleskog kao poslovnog stranog jezika. Unpublished

    doctoral dissertation, (Zagreb: Filozofski fakultet).

    ; McCroskey, J.C. (1970). Measures of communication-bound anxiety. Speech

    Monographs, 37,269-277.

    ; McCroskey, J. C., Richmond, V. P. (1992). Communication apprehension and shyness:

    Conceptual and operational distinction. Central States Speech Journal, 33, 458-468.

    ; North, M., & Rives, J. (2001). Virtual reality therapy in aid of public speaking.

    International Journal of Virtual Reality 3:2-7.

    ; Price, M. L. (1991). "The Subjective Experience of Foreign Language Anxiety:

    Interviews with Highly Anxious Students" in E. K. Horwitz and D. J. Young,

    Language Anxiety, 101-108. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    ; Scovel, T. (1991). "The Effect of Affect on Foreign Language Learning: A Review of

    the Anxiety Research" in E. K. Horwitz and D. J. Young, Language Anxiety, 101-108.

    Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    ; Rossi, A., & Seiler, W. (1989). The comparative effectiveness of systematic

    desensitization and an integrative approach in treating public speaking anxiety: a

    literature review and a preliminary investigation. Imagination, Cognition and

    Personality 9:49-66.

     7

8

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com