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Title: Reducing public speaking anxiety in undergraduates : a case study of an intervention with accountancy students
Author: Ireland, Christopher J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 497X
Awarding Body: University of Huddersfield
Current Institution: University of Huddersfield
Date of Award: 2018
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Oral communication apprehension,particularly its subset public speaking anxiety,has been widely reported as a problem for Accountancy students and a concern for employers who often find graduates underprepared for roles that no longer fit the stereotype of the reticent accountant. This thesis provides a case study of an intervention in which year one accountancy undergraduates deliver three group presentations which aim to develop presentation skills and ease the anxiety felt by many towards presenting. The intervention is part of a core module which aims to help students develop a range of skills relevant to study and employability. The main aim of the study is to develop a theoretical framework for the intervention underpinned by Illeris's (2009) three dimensional conception of learning. The study also aims to map the changes in public speaking anxiety exhibited by the students, identifies factors which influence student apprehension towards public speaking on entering university and assesses, with a particular focus on self-efficacy, what features of the intervention the most apprehensive students believe help ease apprehension towards presentations. The study is a critical realist investigation, drawing on evidence from McCroskey's (1970) widely used PRCA-24 questionnaire as well as reflections and research conversations provided by the most apprehensive presenters. Consistent with most previous studies, public speaking anxiety was found to be the mode of oral communication that created the greatest apprehension amongst students. The study also found that average apprehension for public speaking fell across all cohorts as well as for the highly apprehensive students. The research revealed previous experiences of presenting to be a key factor in helping those who claimed that they had overcome apprehension towards presenting. Those indicating high apprehension were often most concerned about aspects of the audience, while confident students most frequently cited knowledge of the topic being presented and adequate preparation as the reasons for their assuredness. During the intervention, highly apprehensive students revealed a variety of factors as contributing to reduced apprehension, many of which were sources of self-efficacy. The study demonstrates that Illeris's three dimensional model of learning should include self-efficacy as an element of the incentive dimension of learning. The study has a number of implications for future research and practice, including the need for further studies into interventions which have a similar purpose,in order to gain a broader view of what can work in helping apprehensive students develop skills and confidence as presenters. For practitioners, the study supports the use of a multifaceted intervention as well as the implementation of a progression from simple low stakes to more complex high stakes presentations.
Supervisor: Avis, James Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L Education (General)