Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Geoff Leatham

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed changes in workplace and classroom communication, forcing immediate adaption to online video-conferencing with limited preparation. Through a multi-step survey, this study investigates student perceptions of their preparedness for presenting online speeches and the gaps in their competencies; uses best practices from the public sector to create a targeted speaking center intervention with the goal of aiding students in effective online communication; and collects data about high communication apprehensives (CAs) and high computer-mediated communication apprehensives (CMCAs) and their interaction with video-conferencing platforms.

This study hypothesizes that if computer-mediated communication skills (CMC skills) share a negative relationship with communication apprehension in online environments (CMCA), then high CAs and CMCAs, when provided with a targeted intervention to increase their CMC skills, will experience a significant increase in preparedness for online public speaking following the intervention. The results of the surveys revealed that CAs and CMCAs were significantly correlated groups who identified higher levels of need in support for their online presentations before the intervention and reported a greater positive change in their preparedness as a result of the intervention. The significant increase in overall preparedness for online public speaking across the sample ultimately suggests the intervention’s effectiveness and promise as a model for future speaking center workshops.

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