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Faculty Mentor

Karla Hunter, Joshua Westwick

Abstract

This exploratory focus group analysis examines the ways in which students of a Capstone Communication Studies course (N = 15) perceive factors, such as their communication studies education, biological sex, and gender roles, that have impacted their experiences with Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA) and Self-Perceived Communication Competence (SPCC), as well as the effectiveness of various treatment methods for the reduction of PSA. Three independent student focus groups were conducted – one comprised of biological females (n = 5), one of males (n = 3), and one containing subjects of both biological sexes (n = 7). Herein participants discussed their personal experiences with PSA, and whether/ how their education within the communications major aided them in overcoming it. Results were analyzed using thematic analysis to draw implications for the enhancement of instructional PSA mitigation methodologies and to determine whether different PSA treatments are more effective for one biological sex or the other, or based upon identified gender roles.

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