Claustrophobia, or public speaking anxiety, is one of the most prevalent world fears, affecting approximately 75% of the population. Statistically, more people claim a fear of public speaking than a fear of death (Claustrophobia, 2001). Therefore, it is important to understand how public speaking anxiety affects many of the world’s future leaders, today’s college students.
It is clear that public speaking anxiety can negatively affect students’ academics and interpersonal relationships due to a tendency to withdraw from communication situations (Edwards & Walker, 2007). This greatly limits future employment possibilities, where public speaking is necessary in meetings, seminars, and other situations. Therefore, it is valuable to gain a deeper understanding of public speaking anxiety in order to understand what helps/ hinders peoples’ ability to speak comfortably in public situations.
Although there has been a large amount of research devoted to public speaking anxiety, much Of it simply looks at the manifestations Of it or the meanings behind it. The current study, however, intends to look at the effects of outside influences on the level of anxiety. Many people suffering from forms of communication apprehension, such as public speaking anxiety, cite a fear of negative evaluation from others (Kant, 2000). The perceptions of the audience affects the level of anxiety so profoundly that it is important to look at what kind of relationship the speakers have with the audience as a whole.
This can be done through looking at the audience of the specific situation, such as a classroom within the university setting. The current study will be examining his setting due to the high quantity of public speaking done in this situation. It is also an ideal place to do study public speaking anxiety because a deeper understanding of public speaking anxiety on the university level can have effects that carry through the rest of the students’ lives. The role of the instructor is also important in setting the tone of any classroom and the development of classroom community.
As found by Cheeseboard and Microscope (2001 Ellis (1 995), and Ferrier (1993), instructor immediacy, both verbal and nonverbal, is seen as having a soothing and mitigating effect on student classroom communication anxiety. Therefore, it’s critical to formulate an understanding of the interplay between classroom community and public speaking anxiety through an understanding of instructor immediacy, or behaviors that “enhance closeness to and nonverbal interaction with another” (Andersen, 1 979, p. 103).
The current study will focus specifically on nonverbal immediacy, because Ghana (2005) found that classroom communication apprehension is affected by nonverbal immediacy, but not by verbal immediacy. Public speaking is widespread through the population and critical in the evaluation of others in the business context (Schroeder, 2002). For that reason, it is important to better understand all aspects of public speaking anxiety. This study will begin an avenue of research focused on the affects of the context or outside environment on public 1 LAWS-L Journal of undergraduate Research XIV (2011) speaking anxiety.
Therefore, the purpose of this study is to understand the effects, if any, of classroom community and instructor nonverbal immediacy on students’ public speaking anxiety. REVIEW OF LITERATURE Although research in the field of instructional communication has focused on public speaking anxiety, classroom community, immediacy, and many other monuments of this sector, need for further research is constantly emerging. On a very broad level, previous research has highlighted the truly dynamic and multi-faceted nature of an instructional setting.
In order to continue to advance our knowledge in this field, this study will seek to understand the correlation between teacher nonverbal immediacy, sense of classroom community, and public speaking anxiety. First, the field of instructional communication research will be examined to understand where the current study fits into the broad spectrum of this research. Next, the past studies in elation to public speaking anxiety will be examined, starting with studies on stage fright and moving to common action apprehension and specifically public speaking anxiety studies.
This study Will examine classroom community specifically in terms of its effects in the classroom. Finally, this study will look at instructor nonverbal immediacy, why this is sufficient to judge overall immediacy, and why this is important to classroom community and overall public speaking anxiety. Instructional Communication When the field of communication studies began, it was the brainchild of educators. For example, the first professional association in the relatively young field of communication studies was founded in 1 909 by college instructors of speech courses.
In 1914, the first communication journal, the Quarterly Journal of Speech, was published with a primary focus on teaching (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2002). As early as the asses, research was being done on stage fright, which is closely related to public speaking anxiety, and communication apprehension, both which are primary foci of instructional communication today. Despite the field’s birth through education, instructional communication didn’t emerge as a separate field until at least the asses, when research expanded beyond the speech classroom to include all disciplines (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2002).
Finally, in 1972, the Instructional Communication Division was established by the International Communication Association (IAC). Since then, many instructional communication scholars have come to consider instructional communication as the third necessary tier in the foundation for effective teaching and training, along with competence in the subject matter o be taught and competence in pedagogy (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2002). Various broad focus areas in instructional communication have emerged. The first of these areas is that of student factors.
The largest area of interest among this focus is that of communication apprehension (CA), or “the individual’s level of fear associated with either real or perceived interaction with others” (Ghana, 2005, p. 50). As stated by Microscope, Richmond, and Microscope (2002), “it is not an exaggeration to conclude from this research that CA may be the most serious learning disability a student can have, both n terms of its severity and its prevalence in approximately 20% of the student body at all levels” (p. 22). Therefore, a large amount of instructional communication that focuses on student factors has been done on ways to reduce CA.
Instructional factors are another main focus of instructional communication. Much research is focused on a large variety of instructor communication behaviors, such as instructor nonverbal immediacy (Ghana, 2005; Boorish, Allen, & Banyan, 2006). There are also focuses on intercultural communication, among other smaller sectors. Nonverbal immediacy cues will e focused on for the purpose of the current study. However, it is important to note the breadth of instructor communication behaviors that can be further studied in relation to other factors, such as public speaking anxiety.
Throughout the evolution of the field of instructional communication, various issues have arisen. One of the primary obstacles the field had to face was establishing the distinction between scholarship in instructional communication as opposed to scholarship in speech education, which is now often referred to as communication education. In 1977, Scott and Wheelers offered the definition for communication education as scholarship directed toward “finding ways to facilitate the acquisition of communication skills among students” in order to begin to draw this distinction (p. 95). Since then, instructional communication has been defined as scholarship directed toward “discovering the ways in which communication variables impact the learning process” (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2002, p. 17). In other words, instructional communication is concerned with how communication affects the teaching-learning process that takes place in classrooms across all spineless and is grounded in communication theory.
The current study, therefore, fits into the field instructional communication study, yet will be looking at communication education factors. 2 U-L Journal of Undergraduate Research XIV (2011) Communication Apprehension: Public Speaking Anxiety As previously noted, communication apprehension (CA) is the “individual’s level of fear associated with either real or perceived interaction with others” (Ghana, 2005, p. 50). This anxiety is experienced by 20% of individuals overall and has been shown to have many adverse effects in an individual’s life Schroeder, 2002).
Microscope, Richmond, and Stewart (1986) report that “scores of studies have found that college students with high levels of CA are seen as less attractive, less intelligent, and less capable. Instructors often inaccurately perceive students with CA as less competent and less intelligent than their peers who have less difficulty communicating’ (p. 65). These negative assumptions associated with CA students lend themselves to a self- fulfilling prophecy, resulting in a higher level of difficulty in the learning process.
There are also adverse behavioral and cognitive effects Of CA Boorish, Allen, & Banyan, 2006). Behaviorally, CA results in a desire to avoid communication entirely or to reduce the duration of communication situations. Cognitively, Boorish and Allen (1992) noted an overall correlation between CA and academic performance, which demonstrates a significant negative association between overall level of CA and cognitive performance. Negative correlations were also noted between CA and GAP Therefore, as CA rises, GAP has been shown to decrease, and the opposite is true as well.
However, the classroom is not the only place that these negative results are felt. As cited by Schroeder (2002), “a variety of skills taught in the basic speech course are essential for entry level jobs, yet alumni report that formal presentation posed one of the most difficult situations in the work force” (p. 381-382). Therefore, it can be concluded that there is great value in studying ways to reduce CA for both academic and professional reasons. Public speaking anxiety is a subcategory of communication apprehension, which was first looked at in Cleverness’s 1 959 study of stage fright.
Since then, most of the public speaking anxiety research has focused on the physiological ND psychological manifestations of public speaking anxiety. These manifestations can be seen by a wide variety of reactions, including increased blood pressure, heart rate, numbness, and shortness Of breath, associated with discomfort and stress, heart palpitations, sweating, stomach distress, and nausea (Bennie & Beauty, 1981; Bennie & Carlisle, 1971; Clark, 1968; Clement & Turnip, 1996; McCullough, Russell, Bennie, Sawyer, & Witt, 2006; Norton, Norton, Sounds, Thompson, & Larsen, 1999).
Research has also examined the possible reasons for these reactions. As cited by Winters, Harvard, Moss, Warehouse, Sawyer, and Benzene’s (2007), fear of negative evaluation and sensitivity to punishment are both widely accepted reasons for these anxious reactions to public speaking. Boorish, Allen, and Banyan (2006) also suggest that the stress of protecting one’s grade and trying to not appear to the teacher or other students as ‘stupid’ would lead to these reactions.
These anxious thoughts reflect a fear Of the possibility of failure or negative labeling that may result from a mediocre performance when in a public speaking situation. Researchers agree that communication anxiety is a category of immunization that warrants further research. Boorish, Allen, and Banyan (2006) conclude that “given the significant and demonstrable impact of this issue across the curriculum, culture, and over the course of a life span, CA represents one of the few communication issues that the discipline can and should take responsibility for in terms of research and application” (p. 24). However, very little, if any, research has been done in terms of outside influences on CA and public speaking anxiety. Therefore, this study intends to start a new avenue of public speaking anxiety research focused on the environment, starting with classroom community and instructor nonverbal immediacy. Classroom Community Classroom community, although a relatively new focus of instructional communication, has proved an interesting aspect of the overall instructional experience.
Defined by Rival (2002), classroom community is “feelings of connectedness among community members and commonality of learning expectations and goals” (p. 322). More succinctly, this can be described as how close students feel to one another and how comfortable they are around each other. This sense of community has already been proven to contribute to various effects on the overall classroom experience of the students. These effects include increased commitment to group goals, cooperation among members, satisfaction with group efforts, and motivation to learn (Buffer, 1993; Deed, 1996; Rival, 2002).
A sense of community has also been related to increased engagement in school activities, decreased likelihood of reporting thoughts of dropping out of school, increased likelihood of reporting feeling bad when arriving to class unprepared, and decreased reports of feeling “burned out’ at school (Royal & Rossi, 1996). Whereas many of these claims are linked to distraction with the learning process, Rival (2002) found a significant positive relationship between an overall sense of community and cognitive learning.
With overall satisfaction and cognitive learning both significantly correlated with sense of community, it is possible that it would significantly affect other aspects of the learning environment. Therefore, this study seeks to understand the affect of classroom community on other aspects of the instructional process, such as public speaking anxiety. 3 CAW-L Journal of Undergraduate Research XIV (2011) Instructor Factors Within the scope of instructional communication, instructor communication factors have emerged as a strong focus within the field.
This focal point focuses on instructor communication behaviors, including the following: “use of power strategies, use of affinity-seeking strategies, use of nonverbal immediacy cues, use of assertiveness cues, use of responsiveness cues, use of humor, use of verbal aggression, communicating clearly, use of argument or encouraging disagreement, use of self-disclosures, and engaging in teacher misbehaver” (Microscope, Richmond, Microscope, 2006, p. 22). For the repose of this study, nonverbal immediacy cues will be focused on in terms of their connection with both classroom community and public speaking anxiety.
These nonverbal cues include use of gestures, tough, voice inflection, eye contact, body position, facial expression, and distance during their interactions both in the classroom and one on one (Richmond, Microscope, & Johnson, 2003). The research done on immediacy was born from efforts Of students and faculty at West Virginia university who were attempting to intertwine research from the fields of communication and education which as “specifically directed toward identifying teacher behaviors associated with effective classroom instruction” (Microscope & Richmond, 1 992, p. 03). While researching nonverbal communication and digging into educational literature, Janis F. Andersen proposed the idea of “nonverbal immediacy’ as an outgrowth of interpersonal work by Meridian (1 971 ) to explain the common thread she noticed among literature. Andersen defined immediacy as behaviors that enhance closeness to another (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2006). The results from Andersen’s (1979) studies clearly purported her hypotheses that immediacy was a highly influential factor in educational settings.
In fact, the studies revealed that “approximately 20% of the variance in student affect toward the subject matter and 46% of the variance in affect toward the teacher were predictable from teachers’ scores on immediacy’ (Microscope & Richmond, 1 992, p. 104). While there has been difficulty in quantitatively studying the correlation between immediacy and cognitive learning, overall effective teachers have been found to be nonverbally immediate (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2006).
Moreover, in terms Of nonverbal immediacy, more immediacy is almost always better when it does not cross the line into inappropriate intimate behavior, which is one step further than immediacy (Microscope, Richmond, & Microscope, 2006). Therefore, this study will look at levels of nonverbal immediacy in relation to classroom community and public speaking anxiety. HYPOTHESES/RESEARCH QUESTIONS Education is an important part of our society and therefore it is important that communication research continues to focus on instructional communication and ways to enhance the learning process.
Public speaking is skill that is taught in virtually all colleges and universities, yet alumni report that formal presentation poses one of the most difficult situations in the work force (Hanna, 1978). Therefore, it is important to look at how outside influences can affect this anxiety. In response to Edwards and Walker’s (2007) study which concluded that: Students are more comfortable speaking in a class, such as public speaking, when they are in constant contact with their peers and instructors.
This report highlights the need for further research and practice in creating learning communities and learning community type environments in the public speaking course. (p. 68) this study seeks to further the research in learning communities (or classroom community) by comparing it with variables, such as public speaking anxiety. Therefore, the following hypothesis is posed: HI : Classroom community will be negatively correlated with public speaking anxiety. Instructor nonverbal immediacy is also seen as an influencing factor in the classroom.
According to Microscope & Richmond (1 991 increased instructor immediacy results in increased student affect for the teacher, increased affect for the subject, increased cognitive earning, increased student motivation, and reduced student resistance to teachers’ influence attempts. Knowing the is, the following hypotheses are drawn: H2O: Instructor nonverbal immediacy will be negatively correlated with public speaking anxiety. HA: Instructor nonverbal immediacy will be positively correlated with perceived classroom community.
Drawing from the demographic questions, the following research questions are also posed to gain a better overall understanding of instructor nonverbal immediacy, classroom community, and public speaking anxiety. RSI : Is there a atheistically significant correlation between time of CAST 110 course and perceived instructor nonverbal immediacy, perceived classroom community, and public speaking anxiety? ARQ: Is there a statistically significant correlation between version of I. JAW-L CAST 1 10 course taken and perceived instructor nonverbal immediacy, perceived classroom community, and public speaking anxiety?
ARQ: Is there a statistically significant correlation between class standing at the time of enrollment in CAST 1 10 and perceived instructor anxiety? 4 ARQ: Is there a statistically significant correlation between sex of CAST 1 10 instructor and perceived instructor nonverbal immediacy, perceived classroom community, and public speaking anxiety? ARQ: Is there a statistically significant correlation between approximate age of CAST 1 10 classroom community, and public speaking anxiety?
ARQ: Is there a statistically significant correlation between CAST 1 1 0 class size and perceived instructor nonverbal immediacy, perceived classroom community, and public speaking anxiety? ARQ: Is there a statistically significant correlation between typical attire of CAST 1 1 0 instructor and perceived instructor nonverbal immediacy, perceived classroom community, and public speaking anxiety? METHOD The present study was conducted using the social scientific paradigm of communication research, which focuses mainly on the effects of variables on a specific outcome.
The present study looks at the effects classroom community, instructor nonverbal immediacy, and public speaking anxiety have on one another. Various demographic information was also compared to each Of these to determine of they had a significant impact on the outcome. The current study is seeking to explain the levels of classroom immunity, instructor nonverbal immediacy, and public speaking anxiety. When using this method, surveying is often used in order to allow the researcher to remain objective and to observe a situation without influencing the situation.
According to Crewel (2003), “a survey design provides a quantitative or numeric description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population” (p. 153). Using these quantitative descriptions, the researcher was able to determine if correlations and trends existed between different variables and then interpret and define these findings. Surveys allowed the researcher to obtain an accurate report on the feelings of a large sample of participants.
While taking surveys, participants often become more willing to share personal information than any other method, therefore reliability is increased (Watt & Van den Berg 1995). Participants One hundred ninety one current students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosses took the survey. All of the participants were required to have completed CAST 1 1 0 prior to taking the survey and have completed the course at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosses. Of the participants, approximately 4% identified as female, while 56% identified as male. Participants answered questions regarding their personal experiences with the course of CAST 1 10. 6% of students had taken CAST 110 during their freshman year, 10% during their sophomore year, 4% during their junior year, and none of the participants had taken the course during their senior year. The majority, or 52%, of the participants had taken the course during the morning which was either self-determined or any class start time prior to noon. The participants perceived having an average of 24 students in their class. The University slightly altered the curriculum of the course as well as the course name starting fall semester 2009 from Public Oral Communication to Communicating Effectively.
Exactly half of the participants had taken each course. The participant nuts also answered questions about their former CAST 1 10 instructor. Approximately 50% of the instructors were male and 50% female and participants estimated their mean age to be 48 years, with a minimum age of 28 years and a maximum age of 75 years. 30% of the participants viewed their instructor as typically dressing ‘casual’, while 49% identified their instructor’s typical attire as ‘business casual’ and 21 % defined their instructor’s attire as ‘professional’. Measurement Participants completed a survey that consisted of four main sections.
The first section consisted of the demographic information. The second section was Microscopes (1970) Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety (PROPS), which is the most reliable measure for public speaking anxiety. This was followed by Rover’s (2002) Classroom Community Scale (CSS), which measures students’ sense of classroom community. The final section was the Nonverbal Immediacy Scale – Observer Report (INS-O), which is the most up-to-date assure of nonverbal immediacy as an other-or observer- report (Richmond, Microscope, & Johnson, 2003). Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety.