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Faculty Mentor

Karla Hunter

Abstract

Thirty to forty percent of Americans suffer from Communication Apprehension (CA) to a degree that impairs their ability and willingness to speak publicly (McCroskey, 1984). McCroskey (1984) defines CA as “an individual’s level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person(s)” (p.13). There are many forms of CA, but “the most common [form] is Public Speaking Anxiety” (McCourt, 2007, p.6), which can be defined as the fear of speaking in front of a group of people. Because research has shown that such fears may hinder career aspirations, personal relationships and self-image, scholarly examination of means to reduce CA are merited. Therefore, overcoming CA is a fundamental goal of introductory speech classes. To test the impact of a basic-level speech course on students’ CA, 324 students at a large, Midwestern university took McCroskey’s Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety (PRPSA) questionnaire via Questionpro as a pre- and post-test during the first two weeks, and again during the last two weeks of the course, which served as the treatment. Results show a significant decrease in CA after completion of the speech course.

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