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Dr Julie Anderson University of Bristol julie. [email protected] ac. uk ESCalate - GSo. E 35 Berkeley Square – Bristol - BS 8 1 JA
Presentation An account of research into the anxiety pupils and students may experience when answering questions and presenting in whole class contexts, with a focus on the coping strategies the learners may employ.
Whole group questions l l l What has been your experience of the conference this morning so far? Why are you attending this conference/ symposium today? Can you name one resource/ outcome you hope to take away from this event?
Responses to questions l l l How did you feel: a) being asked the questions? b) watching others being asked questions? ( surprised, fine, shocked, taken aback, nervous, unsettled, amused, reflective…)
Anxiety in the literature Social anxiety is common (Furmark, 2002) l Linked to poor attainment in school (Stein et al, 1999) l Affects memory and concentration adversely (Wells and Matthews, 1994) l
AKA l l Audience anxiety Presentation anxiety Communication apprehension Social phobia and social anxiety disorder (Russell, 2006)
What is it? A H Buss – theory of audience anxiety Includes and relates to: l Feelings of self – consciousness in the speaker, l How the speaker perceives audience reception, l An important factor may also be how familiar the context is.
Communication apprehension (CA) Defined as an: “individual level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons” (Mc. Croskey, 1977)
Holbrook, H. T. (1987) l l l CA described as a “significant problem” at the equivalent of our UK KS 2/3 school level eleven per cent of pupils experience severe CA twenty per cent experience enough anxiety to warrant some form of intervention
Longitudinal - mainly Year 4 study (8/9 yr olds) - 32 pupils ( visited between yrs 3 -6) l l Every child questioned admitted to experiencing some sense of being ill at ease during times of whole class teacher questioning “a primary determinant of one’s status is the ability to perform”… (and) children as young as five “ …can already identify the brightest and dullest among their peers” (Covington and Beery, 1976)
Research relevance All too often, research tries to find out if people are 'anxious', then studies relationships between the trait and other traits or performances; but as educators we should be more concerned as to what people do when feeling anxious. (Sutherland, 1983)
Conclusions Teacher questioning of pupils in front of their peers leads to an emotional response that may include anxiety, worry and fear and associated negative feelings, including embarrassment and shame. Leads to pupils employing coping strategies during times of whole class teacher questioning that could adversely affecting their learning.
Study with MEd students ( summer 2006) l l A seminar group of thirteen full time Ten to fifteen minute project presentations Non assessed presentations Encouraged to present as groups
The 13 students l l l Aged from early twenties to late forties Most UK based – England, Wales and NI Two international Majority had been state school educated Most had supportive family circumstances Eight had some education background in teaching: the five others were from NHS, business and sales backgrounds
Qualitative study methodology l l l Participation observation Interviews – just one key question 20 – 45 mins Transcription verification offered Data analysis of common themes
Outcomes Feelings included: l Being frightened, nervousness, worry, concern over subject content, feeling silly, lacking knowledge in Q&A time Re: Lecturer – 2 had concerns Re: Peers – relationships all important
Coping strategies: in order of being referred to most often l Six said that using Power. Point gave structure • l l distracted the audience from selves Five said that practice was important Four - not looking at audience important Three - appearing calm mattered Two talked about preparation time vital ( NB - some mentioned several or all of the above)
Additional points included: l l l l Have a plant in audience to encourage Use humour to get audience onside Rephrasing questions to help answers in Q&A If don’t know, to be honest Water on stand by ( to drink!) Get it over with (try to go first) Provide notes / be interactive with audience
Which students feel what? Apparently vivacious, lively Home student - sick with nerves - opted out ( only one to do so) v Quiet, apparently reticent student – presentation confident ( very experienced through living and working in Greece)
Russell – ESCalate supported quantitative study l l Students across disciplines 80% aged up to thirty – younger than my group Social anxiety-screening tool to identify students with social anxiety –invited to take part in larger quantitative survey Presentations was activity that scored highest 83% stated frequently caused anxiety
Feelings/reactions in Russell study Shy, nervous, embarrassed, stuttering, speaking quickly, worry over response from tutor, feeling physically sick, problems remembering materials and self consciousness (Russell and Shaw, 2006) l
Coping strategies for presentations l l Avoidance (pretending to be sick, missing class swapping modules to avoid presentation work) Preparation Also key was friends and family support - 70% Personal tutors next with 18%
How can institutions help? l l l Recognition of the condition/ issue Choice to participate or not More training and development programmes to increase confidence in public speaking Presentation skills workshops Opportunity to practise specific presentations
Final conclusions l l Use presentations with caution Sophisticated avoidance strategies in use at all ages Effective group work may help build confidence Relationships all important – peers as well as with lecturers/ tutors
Acknowledgements With special thanks to: l Jane Tuffill for her work on creating the initial data sets from the student interviews l Graham Russell for permission to draw on his findings from his 2006 ESCalate project.
ESCalate – the Subject Centre for Education www. escalate. ac. uk For the paper with references please go to the ESCalate website above and search on “Anderson” Thank you.