To read this content please select one of the options below:

Addressing the problem of speech anxiety among students

Philip Kwaku Kankam (Department of Library and Information Studies, African University College of Communications, Accra, Ghana)
Samuel Osarfo Boateng (School of Communications, African University College of Communications, Accra, Ghana)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 13 February 2017

1802

Abstract

Purpose

The anxiety that usually comes with a speaking performance is said to be both personal and situational. Researchers have over the years sought to understand how the combined effects of personal traits of an individual and situational conditions such as the nature of the speaking environment, the size of the audience and negative perception over the outcome of a speech, affects a person’s ability to effectively communicate. While studies on speech-related anxiety in the academic environment is not new (Basic, 2011; Behnke et al., 2006), the attention of many of these studies has focused on students rather than lectures/instructors. While this study is not the first to focus on the role of lecturers in reducing the incidence of speech anxiety, the purpose of this paper is to stress the role of lecturers in reducing speech-related anxieties and its attendant effects on the academic and professional performances of students. It was found out that most speech-related anxiety is largely situational, rather than personal. The study found that out of fear of being negatively evaluated, students became highly apprehensive when asked to perform a speech-related task in the classroom. This, the study found, can potentially have adverse effects on the academic and professional performance of students. Most importantly, the study established the significant role of lecturers in managing a friendly and pleasant environment that facilitate speaking and positive learning outcomes. As Varron (2011) asserts: “the teacher is the one that facilitates the whole process of leaning and create favorable environment, where there is a smooth flow of communication.”

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 40 respondents from the School of Communications of the African University College of Communications were sampled for the study. The selection of only communication students was premised on the study’s quest to unravel the irony inherent in the fact that those communication students that are by their training required to be voluble, tend to be apprehensive, especially under the classroom situation. Doing this was to inevitably help to find out whether or not there is a relationship between an individual’s career choice and the behavioral tendencies such a person is likely to exhibit. Again, the fact that communication students are more competent to speak on issues regarding any subject on communication makes them an ideal choice for this study. A stratified probability sampling method was used to group the sample into various layers (levels). The study using stratified sampling grouped the various respondents into their various levels (strata) and sampled ten respondents from each level. This was to help the study ascertain whether or not any relationship existed between a student’s level and the level of their speaking apprehension. A questionnaire, close and open ended, was employed as the study’s principal instrument for data. Each respondent was given a questionnaire each to respond to. A “descriptive statistical measure was used to describe the characteristics of the sample, whereupon conclusions were generalized for the entire study population.” In addition, graphs, charts, and frequency tabulation made from the coded data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, after which the corresponding interpretation was assigned. To ensure accuracy, data were coded, entered, and cleaned. Tables and figures from the SPSS helped in making the results of the study easier to interpret and understandable.

Findings

The outcome of the administered questionnaire indicated that negative evaluation was caused by lack of adequate preparation, inferiority complex, fear of derision and needless comparisons among students. In respect of how fear of derision causes anxiety, it was found that fear of derision stifles students’ desire to be heard, makes students timid and prevents class participation. On the issue of why some student were deficient in the use of English language, it was found that poor reading habits, overuse of vernacular, obsession with the use of pidgin and apprehension following from the fear of making mistakes were the major causes.

Originality/value

The authors consider the proposed study original both in conceptualisation and design. The main question being interrogated stems from identified gaps in the literature and the study intends to fill these knowledge gaps. The study’s originality stems from the fact that there is paucity of information on the subject of study in the context of Ghana.

Keywords

Citation

Kankam, P.K. and Boateng, S.O. (2017), "Addressing the problem of speech anxiety among students", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 26-39. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPL-07-2016-0029

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles