Assessment of Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA) Among Sri Lankan Law Undergraduates
Posted: 22 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 21, 2021
Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA) is stated as the fear of giving a speech in public with the expectation of being negatively evaluated by others, which is a common issue that many law undergraduates struggle with. Eliminating the apprehension of public speaking is vital for law undergraduates since it might threaten the students' confidence in their future as attorneys and other legal professionals. This descriptive cross-sectional study was aimed at assessing the PSA among all(n=140) second-year Law undergraduates who followed compulsory Public Speaking Module in Kotelawala Defence University (KDU), Sri-Lanka. A self-administered questionnaire consisted of an assessment of socio-demographic data followed by the Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety (PRPSA) by McCroskey was used for data collection after obtaining the informed consent from the participants. The questionnaire was pre-tested with a pilot study among ten third-year law undergraduates before administration. Data was analysed using SPSS 23.0, including the descriptive statistics followed by independent sample t-test, Turkey Post hoc test on a one-way ANOVA. The response rate of the participants was 78.57%, and the majority of them were females (59.1 %: n=65). All the participants had a 'low' level of PSA, and the mean score was 40.35(±19.09). The majority (90.9%: n=100) of the participants had previous experience of presenting in front of an audience, and 60%(n=66) have involved in extra-curricular activities related to public speaking such as Toastmasters (30%: n=330), debating (28.2%: n=31) and Model United Nations (MUN) (1.8%: n=02). However, most of the participants (75.5%: n=83) had not followed any courses related to public speaking. The mean of the PRPSA score was significantly different between the students who had participated in extra-curricular activities related to public speaking and the ones who had not (P=0.030). Further, there was no significant mean difference in PRPSA score between the two genders(P=0.058). Tukey post hoc test on a one-way ANOVA revealed that the students who had participated in debating had a significant mean difference in PRPSA score with the students who had taken part in Toastmaster (P=0.000) and with those who had not participated in any activities related to public speaking (P=0.000). Previous exposure to extra-curricular activities related to public speaking and having a compulsory course module on public speaking are key elements in reducing the PSA among the law undergraduates. It would lead to the transformation of self-confidence and ultimately, a positive change in their professionalism and personality.
Keywords: Public speaking anxiety, Law undergraduates, Communication skills, University education
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