Teacher Leadership Skills: An Analysis of Communication Apprehension

Article excerpt

Becoming aware of leadership skill strengths and weaknesses is crucial for growing as teachers, and for leading coworkers to higher levels of contribution at the workplace. As part of the requirements for a graduate class in leadership behavior, students completed the Personal Record of Communication Apprehension, commonly referred to as the PRCA-24 (McCroskey, 1985). This survey was used to measure communication apprehension of the teachers in the course, which is defined as "an individual's level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communi cation with another person or persons." (McCroskey, 1978). Beatty (1988) defined this fear as" anticipatory audience anxiety", the anxiety experienced by a speaker before an oral presentation.

Review of Literature

Witt and Behnke (2006) investigated anticipatory public speaking anxiety to the nature of speech assignments in communication courses. The studies were based on uncertainty reduction theory, which focuses on communicators' level of comfort speaking in unfamiliar or unpredictable contexts. Anticipatory speech anxiety was detected during informative speeches that were impromptu, extemporaneous, and completed by reading a manuscript. In a study conducted by Limon and La France (2005), communication traits of team members in workplaces were examined. Those emerging as leaders were associated with argumentativeness and communication apprehension, and combined were better predictors of leadership than either communication trait individually.

There is research citing the relationship of listening style preferences and verbal aggressiveness (Worthington, 2005). In this empirical study, specific focus was on the relationship between a person's tendency to engage in verbal aggressiveness and listening style preferences. Results of the study indicate there is an inverse relationship between verbal aggressiveness and content listening. Berger (2004) noted in his study of speechlessness that emotions experienced before and after the event, along with the social consequences and lack of knowledge affected levels of communication apprehension.

In a research study by Heningsen and Heningsen (2004) it was discovered that group decision-making was more successful when they considered group members' cognition, social desirability, and apprehensiveness to communicate. Sharing information in group discussions led to more openness for all members to share, thus reducing communication apprehension and increasing the frequency of communicating. Bartoo and Sias (2004) identified a positive relationship between supervisor communication apprehension and the information load reported by employees. As the information load from supervisors increased, apprehensiveness to communicate increased. Too much information tended to lower the chances of verbal communication between employees and supervisors.

There is research indicating visualization has been affective in reducing communication apprehension (Ayers & Ayers, 2003; Ayers, 1996). Using a combination of words and images, it was noted that this became the most effective way to help coworkers reduce public speaking apprehension (defined as very large group speaking; McCroskey, 1982). Those in the study exposed to text accompanied by visual drawings reported lower public speaking apprehension and envisioned themselves as public speakers who were positive, vivid, and in control. McCroskey et al (2002) note in their article that the study of instructional communication, pedagogy, and subject matter are of equal importance in preparing effective educators, thus reducing communication apprehension.

Kelly and Keaten (2000), Beatty, McCroskey and Heise (1998), and Beatty and Valencic (2000) investigated the relationship between heredity and communication anxiety. Personality factors were reviewed for potential speech apprehensiveness, especially public speaking. These research studies found novel stimuli and the threat of punishment to be key factors triggering communication apprehension. …