Reducing high levels of communication apprehension among primary school students

Carter, Margaret A., (1998) Reducing high levels of communication apprehension among primary school students. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study focused on a group of primary school teachers as they implemented a variety of intervention actions within their class programs aimed towards supporting the reduction of high levels of communication apprehension (CA) among students.Six teachers and nine students, located across three primary schools, four year levels,and six classes, participated in this study. For reasons of confidentiality the schools,principals, parents, teachers, teacher assistants, and students who were involved in this study were given fictitious names. The following research question was explored in this study: What intervention actions can primary school teachers implement within their class programs that support the reduction of high CA levels among students? Throughout this study the term CA referred to "an individual's level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated (oral) communication with another person or persons" (McCroskey, 1984, p. 13). The sources of CA were explained with reference to McCroskey's state-trait continuum. The distinctions between high and appropriate levels of CA were determined conceptually and empirically. The education system within which this study was conducted promoted the philosophy of inclusion and the practices of inclusive schooling. Teachers employed in this system were encouraged to create class programs inclusive of and successful for all students. Consequently the conceptual framework within which this study was conducted was based around the notion of inclusion. Action research and case study research were the methodologies used in the study. Case studies described teachers' action research as they responded to the challenge of executing intervention actions within their class programs directed towards supporting the reduction of high CA levels among students. Consequently the teachers and not the researcher were the central characters in each of the case studies. Three principal data collection instruments were used in this study: Personal Report of Communication Fear (PRCF) scale, semistructured interviews, and dialogue journals. The PRCF scale was the screening tool used to identify a pool of students eligible for the study. Data relevant to the students involved in the study were gathered during semistructured interviews and throughout the dialogue journaling process. Dialogue journaling provided the opportunity for regular contact between teachers and the researcher, a sequence to teacher and student intervention behaviours, and a permanent record of teacher and student growth and development. The majority of teachers involved in this study endeavoured to develop class programs inclusive of all students.These teachers acknowledged the importance of modifying aspects of their class programs in response to the diverse and often multiple needs of individual students with high levels of CA. Numerous conclusions were drawn regarding practical ways that the teachers in this study supported the reduction of high CA levels among students. What this study has shown is that teachers can incorporate intervention actions within their class programs aimed towards supporting students lower their high levels of CA. Whilst no teacher developed an identical approach to intervention, similarities and differences were evident among teachers regarding their selection, interpretation, and implementation of intervention actions. Actions that teachers enacted within their class programs emerged from numerous fields of research including CA, inclusion, social skills, behaviour teaching, co-operative learning, and quality schools. Each teacher's knowledge of and familiarity with these research fields influenced their preference for and commitment to particular intervention actions. Additional factors including each teacher's paradigm of inclusion and exclusion contributed towards their choice of intervention actions. Possible implications of these conclusions were noted with reference to teachers,school administrators, support personnel, system personnel, teacher educators, parents, and researchers.

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ID Code: 36550
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hansford, Brian C.
Additional Information: Presented to the School of Professional Studies, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: Speech anxiety, Communication in education, Communication Study and teaching (Primary), thesis, doctoral
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Margaret A., Carter
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:05
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 03:16

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