Anxiety and Communication Competence in the Honors Basic Public Speaking Course: An Intervention and Formative Assessment

Document Type


Publication Date



This case study examines the effectiveness of a formative assessment intervention in an honors section of a basic public speaking course. Previous research has found significantly higher levels of public speaking anxiety among honors students than among non-honors students and has therefore identified these students as a population at risk for high public speaking anxiety (PSA). As a result, this analysis tested a one-hour tutoring session designed not only to aid students in maximizing learning outcomes for the first speech of the course, but, subsequently, to enhance markers of student development through reduced PSA and increased self-perceived communication competence (SPCC). Results indicated significant and sustained reductions in honors students’ PSA directly after the intervention and significant increases in these students’ SPCC later, after the classroom delivery of the first speech. Therefore, the tutoring intervention directly decreased students’ PSA and may have indirectly increased students’ SPCC. We posit that students may have benefited from a sleeper effect due to the intervention, needing the catalytic event of the speaking experience to activate their enhanced feelings of competence. Implications include the potential to harness the effectiveness of such tutoring sessions to assist at-risk students.

Publication Title

Basic Communication Course Annual



First Page


Last Page


DOI of Published Version