The effect of receiver apprehension and source apprehension on listening comprehension

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The effect of receiver apprehension and source apprehension on listening comprehension
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Paschall, Katie Ann, 1954-
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1984.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 80-87).
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by Katie Ann Paschall.
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Vita.

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THE EFFECT OF RECEIVER APPREHENSION AND SOURCE APPREHENSION
ON LISTENING COMPREHENSION





By

KATIE ANN PASCHALL


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1984











ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


Many individuals contributed to the research recorded

in this volume. First and foremost, recognition should be

accorded to my parents, Winfred and Doris Paschall. For

almost 30 years they have encouraged me, believed in me,and

supported me in more ways than they know. Their faith in

me inspired my commitment to the completion of this volume.

Dr. Anthony J. Clark, as chairman of my supervisory

committee, spent countless hours reading, editing,and advis-

ing me in the development of this research. As a friend,

Dr. Clark encouraged me and believed in me. I am grateful

to him.

I extend my gratitude to each member of the supervisory

committee: Dr. Thomas B. Abbott, Dr. Donald E. Williams,

Dr. Albert Smith, and Dr. Arthur Sandeen. Their advice, time,

and support are greatly appreciated.

Dr. Sandra Ketrow, supervisor of the basic speech course

at the University of Florida, granted me a place in the class

schedule so that I might complete the experimental phase of

the research. Devorah Lieberman, Sonia Zamanou, Mittie

Nimmocks, Laurie Wieman, John Connell and Anita Raghaven,

the individual speech instructors, collected information and

allowed precious class time for my research. I thank them

all.







For the special friends who encouraged me, cheered me

and loved me, I am especially grateful. To Russell Budd and

Devorah Lieberman, I offer my thanks and my love.

I dedicate this volume to two special teachers, my aunt

Edna Earl Wilson and my friend Ruby Krider, who showed me

the special joy that learning and sharing knowledge can

bring. They inspired and taught me to work hard and to love

and trust God.


iii











TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . .

LIST OF TABLES . .

ABSTRACT . .


Chapter

I. INTRODUCTION. . .

Review of Relevant Literature.
Listening . .
Communication Apprehension.
Source Apprehension .
Receiver Apprehension .
Rationale and Hypotheses .
Definitions .
Research Hypotheses .
Problem Statement .

II. METHODOLOGY . .

Research Design. .
Subjects Used in This Study. .
Materials. . .


Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (PRCA) .
Receiver Apprehension Test (RAT).
Profile of Mood States (POMS) .
Sequential Test of Educational
Progress--Listening (STEP). .
STEP Audio Tape . .
Post-Experimental Questionnaire .
Procedure. . .
Analysis of Results. .

III. RESULTS . .

Self-Report Findings .
Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (PRCA) .
Receiver Apprehension Test (RAT).
Profile of Mood States (POMS) .
Post-Experimental Questionnaire .


. ii

. vi


vii


. 35


35
. 37
37

. 38
38
39

40
41
. 41
. 42
. 46


. 47

. 47
. 48
. 48
. 50






Chapter

III. RESULTS (Continued)

STEP Listening Test. .
Hypotheses Test Results. .
Summary. . .

IV. DISCUSSION. . .

Conclusions. . .
Limitations of the Study .
Implications for Future Research


REFERENCES . . .

APPENDICES . . .

A. PERSONAL REPORT OF COMMUNICATION
APPREHENSION (PRCA) . .

B. RECEIVER APPREHENSION TEST (RAT). ..

C. PROFILE OF MOOD STATES (POMS) .

D. SEQUENTIAL TEST OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS--
LISTENING TEST (STEP) . .

E. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF INFORMED CONSENT .

F. POST-EXPERIMENTAL QUESTIONNAIRE .

G. STEP LISTENING TEST INSTRUCTIONS FOR
TEST CONDITIONS . .

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . .


. 80

. 88



. 90

. 93

. 96



. 98

. 100

. 103



. 105

. 107


Page


. 50
. 55
. 65

. 67

. 67
. 75
. 77











LIST OF TABLES


1. Group Means of Communication Apprehension
Variables. . .

2. Mean Scores for Mood State Factors .

3. Test Condition Mean Scores for STEP
Listening Test . .

4. STEP Means for Test Condition Order. .

5. Correlation of Individual Mood Factors
and Total Mood with Listening
Comprehension. . .

6. Analysis of Variance of Listening Compre-
sension Scores with a Covariate of Receiver
Apprehension or Source Apprehension. .

7. Analysis of Variance of the Effect of Speech
Training on Listening Controlling for
Total Mood Score . .

8. The Effect of RA, SA, Speech Training, and
Test Condition on Listening Comprehension
Controlling for Total Mood Score .

9. Mean Scores for Speech Trained and Non-
Trained Subjects After Transformation. .


Table


Page


. 49

. 51


. 53

. 54



. 58



. 59



. 61



. 63


. 64











Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


THE EFFECT OF RECEIVER APPREHENSION AND SOURCE APPREHENSION
ON LISTENING COMPREHENSION

By

Katie Ann Paschall

April, 1984

Chairman: Anthony J. Clark, Ph.D.
Major Department: Speech

This study investigated the possible effect of receiver

apprehension and source apprehension on an individual's lis-

tening comprehension in an educational environment under

threat or anxiety-producing conditions. Mood state was also

examined as a possible intervening variable in listening

performance.

Levels of receiver apprehension and source apprehension

were obtained for 167 students in eight intact public speak-

ing classes at the University of Florida. The STEP Listening

Test was later administered to the eight classes. The test

was given in two parts in one of eight experimental permuta-

tions. The conditions of the test concerned threat of oral

performance after listening to instructional material and a

non-threat condition which called for only listening perform-

ance. The Profile of Mood States was administered to deter-

mine mood state at the time of testing.

vii







A procedure correlation revealed no significant rela-

tionship between receiver and source apprehension. Neither

receiver apprehension, source apprehension nor mood state

were found to be correlated with listening comprehension.

Using the independent variables of receiver apprehension,

source apprehension and threat condition with mood state as

a covariate, an analysis of variance revealed no difference

on listening comprehension scores for subjects under threat

and non-threat conditions regardless of level of apprehen-

sion.

A post-experimental questionnaire indicated that 47 sub-

jects had prior speech training. In a five factor analysis

of variance with a covariate of mood state, only speech

training proved to be a significant main effect. However,

due to uneven groups, this finding cannot be interpreted as

highly significant.

This research and analysis led to the following conclu-

sions:

1. Receiver apprehension and source apprehension are
separate and distinct dimensions of communication
apprehension.

2. There is no relationship between listening compre-
hension and receiver apprehension or source appre-
hension in an educational environment. Further,
an anxiety-producing condition does not signifi-
cantly affect listening comprehension regardless
of the level of communication apprehension.

3. An individual's speech training may be a signifi-
cant factor in listening comprehension and should
be further investigated.


viii











CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION


Mankind's first system of education was oral and, of

necessity, continued to be so until the invention of the

printing press. It was not until the latter part of the 19th

century that print overtook the oral medium as the primary

mode of communication in formal education. Since that time

the emphasis of the eye over the ear has resulted in genera-

tions who find it difficult to assimilate knowledge aurally

(Anderson, 1966, p. 204). However, the advent of an increas-

ingly technological age has again produced changes in the

learning environment which take students beyond the confines

of the print medium. The influence of the mass media, both

in and out of the classroom, requires new learning skills

for students (Anderson, 1966; Nichols & Stevens, 1957).

Advances in science and computer technology produce burgeon-

ing quantities of information which shift the emphasis on

skills from passive information storage to active information

seeking and processing. Further, as social structures become

more complex, individuals will become more dependent on our

abilities to process information in a variety of ways includ-

ing the aural as well as the written media (Work, 1978).

While often neglected in traditional educational systems,

listening is an important part of a person's ability to process






information. Nowhere is one's capacity to hear and compre-

hend more critical than in the realm of formal education.

Unfortunately, educators have appeared to assume that listen-

ing ability was an offshoot of other language skills and

little or no effort has been invested to study it as a trait

which is unique as a communication skill. Correspondingly,

there has not been a widespread effort to teach listening as

an important skill in the processing of information. Recent

emphasis on communication competency, however, has sparked a

new interest in the development of listening skills. Commu-

nication competency focuses on the concept of the individual's

ability to manage symbols in all their modes and contexts and,

therefore, includes skill in speaking and listening as well

as in reading and writing (Work, 1978).

Psychologists and educational theorists agree that lis-

tening and learning are significantly related. Listening is

the first skill to be developed and the one used most often.

Infants develop listening behavior from birth; these behav-

iors are observable at 3 to 9 months, while speaking skills

are not observable until 18 to 20 months. Reading skills are

not observable until 4 to 6 years of age (Steil, Barker, &

Watson, 1983).

Listening has been determined to be an important variable

in the acquisition and processing of information vital to the

educational and social development of the person. According

to Barbara (1971), "man's very existence depends upon his

ability to exchange information and to remain in communication




3

with his fellow man. Listening which does not further these

aims can only be disturbing" (p. 38). Research has firmly

established that anything that impairs listening impairs the

individual's ability to function in society (Banville, 1978;

Work, 1978).

However, there are numerous factors which might influence

the development of listening ability. The scope of the study

reported here has been limited to the specific aspect of lis-

tening comprehension, particularly in a classroom environment.

This area of research was chosen primarily because of the

relative lack of information concerning listening in relation

to its acknowledged importance to the educational process.

Even given these specific limitations, however, the number of

variables which might influence listening could comprise a

long list. A survey of listening research pointed to a pos-

sible link between listening performance and the phenomenon

known as communication apprehension. As a result, the factor

of communication apprehension received attention as a central

variable in this study of listening.

Communication apprehension has previously been linked

to academic achievement in courses employing different

instructional strategies (McCroskey & Anderson, 1976), and

to problems affecting student learning (Hurt, Preiss, &

Davis, 1976). Some attention has been paid by communication

scholars to the idea that an individual's fear of communi-

cating may somehow be related with his/her capacity to pro-

cess (encode) information. More recently, research has been




4

focused on the fear of communicating as it relates to the

individual's ability to decode information, a trait tradi-

tionally known as listening (Wheeless, 1975).

Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to

examine the theoretical and empirical relationships between

communication apprehension and listening comprehension. The

dimensions of source apprehension and receiver apprehension

were examined to determine the relationship between them as

well as their effects on listening comprehension. Because

this inquiry was limited to an educational environment, the

research was conducted in a regular classroom under condi-

tions designed to approximate normal communication anxiety

producing conditions: the anticipation of an oral perform-

ance following a period of listening to instructional

material.


Review of Relevant Literature

In order to understand the varied aspects of this study,

research data in the area of listening as well as empirical

findings in apprehension as they relate to both the "source"

and the "receiver" of messages will be reviewed. These areas

will be examined in view of their relationship to information

receiving and processing and resultant communication behavior.

Research relating listening and apprehension to the educa-

tional process will receive particular attention.


Listening

A survey of some of the findings which researchers have

contributed during the past several decades provides a





5

comprehensive view of the area of listening. Research on

listening goes back well over 50 years. Rankin's (1928)

University of Michigan doctoral thesis "The Measurement of

the Ability to Understand Spoken Language" was the first

major treatment of the subject of listening. Further research

remained sporadic and inconclusive until the 1950's and 1960's.

During this period scholars produced the major portion of

extant listening research. The most significant contribution

of the period is the identification of listening as a trait

separate from other verbal abilities (Biggs, 1956; Spearritt,

1962). The 1970's saw little activity in this area and the

1980's concentration has been on the measurement of listening

skills as a part of communication competency (Pearson &

Fielding, 1982).

For many years literacy was defined as one's ability to

read and write. Recently, however, phrases such as "language

literacy" or "communication competency" have been embraced

by educators, and they include the communication competencies

of speaking and listening as well as reading and writing.

Numerous pedagogs and educators have come to recognize the

inherent interdependence of the so-called "language arts" and

the oral/aural communication skills (Rubin, 1982; Work, 1978).

The United States Office of Education added speaking and lis-

tening to the list of basic skills under their Title II pro-

gram (Dickson & Patterson, 1981). The Educational Policy

Board of the Speech Communication Association recommended in

1977 adding minimal speaking and listening competencies for




6

high school graduates (Bassett, Whittington, & Staton-Spicer,

1978). The State of Florida has mandated an assessment and

testing program for use at the end of the sophomore year in

college which will judge if students have acquired basic

speaking and listening skills. While there is difficulty in

developing methods to mass test these skills, all state sup-

ported institutions of higher education in Florida are under

a legal mandate to do so no later than 1985.

Despite the recognition given to speaking and listening

as information processing skills, research indicates that

school systems at all levels emphasize reading and writing

to the detriment of oral and aural processes (Nichols, 1961;

Lundsteen, 1979). Further, speech communication classes, now

widely recommended by educators in all academic areas, cur-

rently concentrate primarily on oral (speaking) skills and

give scant attention to listening (Nichols, 1961; Dixon,

1964; Drake, 1951; Steil, Barker, & Watson, 1983). This is

disconcerting when one learns that listening consumes sig-

nificantly more time than does speaking, reading or writing

in a student's academic life (Disibio, 1982). McCormick

(1981), for example, reported that 57% of class time in

elementary school, 53% in high school and 70% of college

class time was consumed by listening (p. 37).

There is, nonetheless, little disagreement among

teachers and psychologists about the importance of listening

in human communication and learning. Lundsteen (1979)

reported that listening is the first language skill to appear




7

and that "listening is considered the first step in unlocking

progress in any other area related to language--which would

include science, math, history, the whole of education"

(p. xii). Lundsteen (1979) further stated that a "natural

progression of instruction would be to teach thinking skills

in an oral context before expecting thinking skills to serve

children to their best advantage in reading and writing"

(p. 61). Crowell and Hu-Pei Au (1981) supported this view

by asserting that "children should develop a strategy for

organizing and thinking about storing information received

through auditory channels" (p. 131). Therefore, listening is

acknowledged as a skill vital to the total learning process.

Definition of listening. Basic to this discussion is

a definition of listening; however, no simple or generally

accepted definition has emerged from the various research

studies (Devine, 1968, p. 297). The difficulty in defining

listening may lie in the lack of understanding the process

itself (Bakan, 1966), or in the lack of knowledge about the

components of the process (Petrie, 1976). A number of defi-

nitions have been offered; each, however, contains elements

of others or is an extension of previous definitions.

Lundsteen (1979), taking into account the ambiguity of

the term listening, defined it as "the process by which

spoken language is converted to meaning in the mind" (p. 1).

Buttery (1980) also defined listening as the recognition and

interpretation of auditory stimuli and indicated that lis-

tening was an "active, cognitive process which requires




8

conscious attention to sounds in order to gain significant

meaning from them" (p. 181). Hollingsworth (1974) described

listening as an active and alert process requiring the lis-

tener to decode many different meanings from syntactical

arrangement of words, intonations and inflections in the

speaker's voice and included the listener's experience with

words as an important element in the process (p. 1156).

Other definitions, though not disagreeing with the con-

cept of listening as an active and cognitive process, have

focused on the distinction between hearing and listening

(Clevenger & Matthews, 1971; Harwood, 1966). Barbara (1971),

for example, stated that listening involved a "definite and

usually voluntary effort to comprehend acoustically" (p. 160);

hearing on the other hand, involved "mere reception of stimuli

over auditory pathways" (p. 160). Nichols and Lewis (1954)

offered a definition of listening as a total process called

aural assimilation. Hearing, the first phase of the process,

is the perception of sound by the ear only. Listening, the

second phase, is the attachment of meaning to aural symbols

perceived (p. 1).

A number of researchers developed models of listening

which extended the two phases of hearing and listening to

include a third phase called "auding" (Disibio, 1982).

Stammer (1977) described hearing as a non-attentive behavior

and listening as attentive behavior concentrated on process-

ing sounds. Auding was then defined as the "center" of the

process whereby sounds are processed for meaning (pp. 661-663).




9

Berger and Werdmann (1978) defined the phase of auding as

the process of "listening to, recognizing and interpreting

spoken symbols" (p. 37). Buttery (1980) also referred to

auding as the process of organizing and analyzing what was

heard (p. 183). The term auding, however, has not gained

wide acceptance or use and the activities or processes

referred to by auding scholars are usually attributed to

the listening phase (Lundsteen, 1979).

Though most often referred to as a process concerning

aural stimuli, some scholars have posited that a visual fac-

tor may also be a component of listening. Brown (1949)

defined listening as the "aural assimilation of spoken sym-

bols in a face-to-face speaker audience situation" (p. 139).

Henning (1977) also reported the existence of a relationship

between the speaker's body motions and the listener's under-

standing of the message (p. 186). Petrie (1966), however,

argued that visual behavior was a factor when the speaker

was present, but that listening may go on in the absence of

the physical presence of the speaker. Further, Weaver and

Rutherford (1974) reported the development of listening

skills in sighted and visually handicapped people progressed

at the same rate indicating that visual factors had no direct

impact on the development of listening ability. Consequently,

including a visual factor as a "necessary component of lis-

tening seems to unduly restrict the meaning of the term"

(Petrie, 1966, p. 327).




10

Lundsteen (1971) summarized the status of a clear-cut

definition of listening by stating that listening was too

complex an activity to be adequately defined in a sentence

or a paragraph. Consistent with this view, some researchers

have sought a more complete definition by separating the pro-

cess into parts (Brown, 1949; Rankin, 1966). Pearson and

Fielding (1982), for example, asserted that the process could

best be described in terms of a phonological level at which

a listener must be able to distinguish the sound patterns or

phonemes of the language; a syntactical level at which the

listener can recognize paraphrases, ambiguities and inter-

pretations of the words; a semantic level at which the lis-

tener recognizes meanings of the words; and a text structure

level at which the listener organizes messages as they

relate to his/her culture or context. All four levels must

be combined to achieve a satisfactory definition of listening

(pp. 618-619). Tutolo (1977) also stated that the best defi-

nition of listening could be achieved by separating listening

into three parts. The first, acuity, involves the process

of sound waves passing through the ear to the brain. The

second, discrimination, involves the ear and brain determin-

ing differences in the sounds. Comprehension, the third

part, is accomplished when the listener recalls facts and

ideas, determines the relationship that exists between them,

and finally, evaluates what was heard (p. 263).

Listening scholars have also focused on the components

of effective listening. Fessenden (1955) reported seven




11

levels of effective listening which ranged from isolating

sounds and ideas involving no evaluation or analysis to the

level of introspection requiring an analysis of the effect

that having heard has on the individual. Strickland (1966)

listed eight levels of listening developing from the first

level of little conscious listening to a level of true

"meeting of the minds" (pp. 42-43). Nichols and Lewis (1954)

described ten components ranging from previous experience

with material to the reconciliation of thought-speed and

speech-speed (pp. 11-25). Buttery (1980) also reported four

components of attending behavior, hearing acuity, auditory

discrimination, and comprehension or auding, all of which

were considered necessary to the understanding of the listen-

ing process.

A major factor in the definition of listening is the

identification of the different types of listening. Nichols

and Lewis (1954), for example, focused on three types of

listening each of which served a different end. Appreciative

listening was described as the reception of any kind of stim-

uli gratifying to the senses. Critical listening concerned

the reception of persuasive speech for the purpose of evalu-

ating arguments and evidence. Discriminative listening or

comprehension dealt with the reception of informative speech

usually in an instructive situation. This type of listening

was considered to be basic to the other types (pp. 1-2).

Buttery (1980) also listed four types of listening.

Literal recognition or recall focused on recognition or




12

recall of details and main ideas. Inferential or interpre-

tive comprehension concerned what was meant by the speaker

and required extrapolation beyond given information. Criti-

cal or evaluative listening subsumed the other types and

required making reasoned judgements about what was heard.

Appreciative or aesthetic comprehension involved an awareness

of various techniques, forms and styles used by musicians and

orators to stimulate an emotional response in the listener

(p. 186).

Disibio (1982) listed four types of listening similar

to those described by other scholars. Attentive listening

focused on one person or aspect of communication. Apprecia-

tive listening concerned the reception of messages for enjoy-

ment. Analytical listening dealt with listening for the

purpose of responding. Marginal listening centered on the

reception of messages when two or more distractions were

present (p. 218).

McCaleb (1981) similarly described three types of lis-

tening as informative, critical and interpersonal. Informa-

tive listening concerned the clarity of the message to the

receiver and dealt with understanding of main ideas and

retention of information. Critical listening concerned the

reception of persuasive messages and the listener's ability

to make inferences, determine motives and assess evidence and

reasoning. Interpersonal listening dealt with the ability to

interact with others in a manner which clarified and elicited

expressions and provided effective support (p. 162).




13

Tutolo (1977) also reported three cognitive levels or

types of listening. Literal comprehension centered on the

factual recall of what the speaker said. Interpretive compre-

hension involved determining the relationship that exists among

facts or ideas. Critical listening subsumed the other types

and necessitated an evaluation of what was heard (p. 263).

In much the same manner, Lundsteen (1979) described two types

of listening. General listening involved retention of infor-

mation and paraphrasing of a message. Critical listening

involved the evaluation of a message, judging and detecting

bias (pp. 59-61).

As the preceding review indicates, various definitions

of listening contain many of the same elements. Listening may

be defined, therefore, in terms of the commonalities found in

the major definitions. In this study, listening is an active

cognitive process of receiving, analyzing and attaching mean-

ing to aural stimuli. The process includes a physical hearing

stage and may take place in or out of the presence of the

speaker. A number of common levels, components and types of

listening may be identified and measured, all of which are

necessary to the development of a comprehensive definition

of listening.

The purpose of the research to be conducted and the

type of listening test used will indicate the level of type

of listening to be assessed. In most instances, the term

comprehension is applied to the primary area of interest in

listening research.




14

The design and purpose of the study reported here con-

cerned listening comprehension. Nichols and Lewis (1954)

stated that comprehension of instructive speech "is so basic

that it is actually a controlling factor in both of the other

kinds of performance" (pp. 1-2). Barbara (1971) also asserted

that the "most essential factor contributing to the effective-

ness of listening is comprehension, the understanding and

grasp of the idea or meaning of what is heard" (p. 168).

Lundsteen (1979) posited that it was necessary to dis-

tinguish between comprehension and other types of listening

in a testing situation as only knowledge obtained as a result

of listening to an oral test passage actually represents lis-

tening comprehension (p. 4). Assessment of other types such

as critical or appreciative listening, though necessary and

important components in a total listening definition, may be

difficult to assess in a classroom situation. Further, in

the confines of a particular study, inclusion of more than

the comprehension level may be unnecessary and misleading.

Other types of listening may call for integration of previous

personal knowledge and require extrapolation beyond the given

information (Buttery, 1980).

Listening tests. Valid and accurate measurement of

listening is difficult at best. Early listening tests were

developed before clear theoretical or statistical evidence

indicated the specific skills involved in listening; tests

often lacked agreement on what trait or dimension of listen-

ing was being measured (Lundsteen, 1979). Kelly (1965, 1967)




15

contended that listening tests actually measured some other

factors more reliably assessed by established tests not

involving listening. In particular, the tests were criti-

cized for measuring mental ability and reading skill rather

than listening.

The difficulty in developing adequate and practical

measures of listening may rest with the lack of a generally

accepted definition and the need for information concerning

the components of the process unique to listening. Lundsteen

(1979), reporting on the state of the art of listening evalu-

ation, found that assessment measures were relatively scarce,

reasonably reliable but often confused and lacking in imagi-

nation (p. 101). Despite the controversy over the form and

content of assessment, scholars have agreed that listening

can be measured (Backlund, Brown, Gurry, & Jandt, 1982).

Because of the current emphasis on communication compe-

tency and the need for assessment by state agencies and edu-

cational institutions, Backlund et al. (1980) reviewed 71

existing listening instruments. They could not, however,

recommend any single specific instrument for use as a general

assessment measure. A similar review process was undertaken

by the State of Florida State Task Force on College Level

Assessment Skills Program. Of approximately 50 instruments

reviewed, this task force has not recommended to date one

instrument which meets its assessment criteria.

As a result of the review process, Backlund et al. (1982)

recommended certain criteria for listening assessment




16

instruments. First, stimulus material and test questions

should be electronically recorded to control for consistency

of presentation style. Messages should be given in a

"natural" speaking style, not read. Second, the stimulus

material should call for a single, minimal response with

specific questions being the best; test items should be read

to students to minimize mediation by reading ability. Third,

the stimulus materials, both messages and test items should

be short in order to reduce influence of long-term auditory

memory; the authors suggested a range from 30 seconds to

3 minutes. Fourth, it was recommended that the stimulus

material be interesting; and finally, that the vocabulary

be controlled to minimize testing of verbal ability as sepa-

rate from listening comprehension.

Researchers should be aware, however, that no single

instrument currently exists that will give definite certifi-

cation of the level of comprehensive listening ability. The

difficulties in assessing listening are related to disagree-

ment over what dimension of listening is being tested and to

the practicality of wide-scale measurement (Backlund et al.,

1980).

The Communication Competency Assessment Instrument

(CCAI) developed by Rubin (1982), for example, was approved

by the Speech Communication Association after much review and

deliberation. This test, though, is a comprehensive measure

of speaking and listening, and requires a period of 30 minutes

per student in a one-to-one testing situation. The CCAI also




17

deals with levels of listening other than comprehension. For

most research purposes, the test is not practical.

The Brown-Carlsen Listening Test is a widely used

instrument and involves a number of different types of lis-

tening. The test has been criticized for possible dependence

on memory and general mental ability rather than listening

skill.

The STEP Listening Test, developed by the Educational

Testing Service, is also a widely implemented measure. This

test, however, is concerned only with the very basic level

of listening comprehension and is considered by some

researchers to be too limited in its measurement of listen-

ing (Bostrom & Bryant, 1980).

Correlates to listening. The ambiguity of the definition

of listening and the lack of adequate assessment instruments

have, in part, resulted in a number of misunderstandings con-

cerning variables correlated to listening. Nichols and Lewis

(1954) reported that listening ability as a matter of intel-

ligence was a false assumption (p. 18). Devine (1978),

Brown (1949), and Wright (1971) also found no correlation

between listening and intelligence beyond variance accounted

for by inconsistent testing procedures. Differences between

hearing acuity and listening were also substantially con-

firmed by research (Harwood, 1966). Nichols and Stevens

(1957), along with Landry (1961), and Rossiter (1970),

reported that neither practice, maturation nor education

level resulted in improved listening skills.




18

The relation between listening and reading has been

extensively researched. Though early studies purported a

relationship between the two processes (Brown, 1965; Nichols,

1948), that research has been questioned because the listen-

ing test involved may have been based on measures concerned

with factors other than listening skills (Brown, 1966;

Devine, 1978).

Researchers have acknowledged similarities between read-

ing and listening. These similarities stem from a body of

theory that has emphasized the two as receptive communication

processes based on a common language and conceptualizing

functions (Tuman, 1980; Walker, 1977). At the same time,

scholars have consistently indicated differences between

reading and listening. Major differences are attributed to

situational and time contexts (Backlund et al., 1980; Devine,

1978), and to different neurological processes affecting the

manner and rate at which messages are received and processed

(Nichols & Lewis, 1954).

There has also been some discussion of the role of

memory in the listening process. Though both long- and

short-term memory seem to be related to listening, Bostrom

and Bryant (1980) argued for the existence of a distinct

process which operates differently from memory. Researchers

have indicated a difference in the way an individual responds

to repetition of messages, masking, amounts of information

produced, and the time lapse between listening and recall

situations, which distinguishes listening from memory




19

(Backlund et al., 1982; Bostrum & Bryant, 1980; Nichols &

Lewis, 1954).

In summary, listening has been found to be a separate

and distinct communication skill. The variables of intelli-

gence, maturation, hearing acuity, reading ability and

memory do not seem to significantly affect the ability of

an individual to listen efficiently under normal circum-

stances. It is known, however, that individuals do tend to

score differently on measures of listening comprehension.

It is necessary, therefore, to determine what factors might

enhance or hinder listening ability. Communication scholars

have long acknowledged the impact of communication apprehen-

sion on oral communication situations. This variable may

also prove to be a factor in the aural context of communica-

tion and deserves thorough examination.


Communication Apprehension

For over four decades scholars have focused attention

on a person's fear or anxiety about communication and the

impact of the fear on communication behavior (Lomas, 1934;

McCroskey, 1970; Phillips, 1965). Research concerned with

fear and anxiety about oral communication has been conducted

under a number of labels including stage fright (Clevenger,

1959), reticence (Phillips, 1968), shyness (Zimbardo, 1977),

unwillingness to communicate (Burgoon, 1976), and communica-

tion apprehension (McCroskey, 1970). The term communication

apprehension, according to McCroskey (1977), "more broadly

represents the total of the fears and anxieties studied




20

previously" (p. 78) and the theory of communication appre-

hension (CA) integrates research conducted under other

labels (p. 8).

State versus trait. McCroskey (1982), in a reconceptu-

alization of communication apprehension, was concerned with

the distinction between state and trait apprehension. CA

had been considered a trait rather than a state apprehension.

Trait apprehension is characterized by a fear or anxiety with

respect to many different types of oral communication from

single encounters to speaking before a large group, whereas

state apprehension is a fear specific to a given audience

situation. State anxiety is considered a normal response to

a threatening situation and is experienced by most people

at some time. Trait apprehension is not normal, however, for

well-adjusted individuals. Those individuals who report high

levels of CA are believed to be apprehensive about all commu-

nication situations, both threatening (anxiety-producing) and

non-threatening.

McCroskey (1982) posited that the dichotomy of state

versus trait ignores the interaction of the personality

orientation of the individual and the constraints of the

situation. He has now called for a rejection of the state/

trait dichotomy and proposed a view of CA as a continuum

ranging from extreme trait apprehension to extreme state

apprehension. As every individual experiences CA to some

degree in both categories, it is unlikely that pure trait or

state extremes would exist (pp. 146-151).




21

Causes of CA. The causes of CA are not clearly known.

However, early researchers suggested that CA may be developed

during early childhood; many children enter kindergarten with

high levels of CA (Phillips & Butt, 1966; Wheeless, 1971).

Scholars generally believe that CA is learned, conditioned

through reinforcement of a child's communication behaviors.

A child reinforced for being silent or given negative rein-

forcement for attempting to communicate by teachers and par-

ents would be more likely to develop this trait (McCroskey,

1977).

McCroskey (1982) asserted that a fuller understanding

of the causes of CA might be found in the area of expectancy

learning or "learned helplessness." People are believed to

develop expectations with regard to other people, situations

and probable outcomes of specific behaviors such as talking.

If some communication behaviors result in punishment or lack

of reward, individuals reduce these behaviors or avoid those

situations calling for those behaviors (p. 159).

McCroskey (1982) explained that when individuals con-

front situations with no regular expectation of either posi-

tive or negative reinforcement, helplessness occurs. Such a

response may be produced by inconsistency in the environment

or may be produced by the inability of the individual to dis-

cern situational differences which produce differences in

behaviors. For example, a child rewarded for speaking out

in a classroom discussion and punished for talking to another

child in the same classroom may be unable to discriminate




22

between the situations. When helplessness is learned, strong

anxiety feelings will be experienced (p. 159).

Measurement. An important consideration in research of

any dimension of CA is that of measurement. Three main cate-

gories of assessment have been employed: observer rating

scales, devices for measuring physiological change and self-

report techniques. McCroskey (1970) posited that observer

rating scales should be excluded in the measurement of CA

because of the difficulty of obtaining reliable ratings as

these measures are based on observable behaviors and behav-

iors associated with CA are often difficult to detect (p. 270).

McCroskey (1970) also excluded the use of physiological

indices as such measures tend to be expensive and not always

available to the researcher. Such measures are not capable

of measuring the actual withdrawal response of the apprehen-

sive (p. 270).

The self-report or introspective technique has been the

most prevalent measure of CA and is recommended by McCroskey

(1970) for several reasons. A self-report instrument is

inexpensive and easy to administer to a large number of

individuals. It is capable of tapping anxiety across a

variety of communication contexts at one time (p. 270). The

main advantage of the self-report technique, however, lies

in the concept of CA as a fear. According to Wheeless

(1975),

if a person understands that he is appre-
hensive and why he is apprehensive, this his own
report of his fear ought to be the most valid.
To the extent that a person knows why he is




23

apprehensive, his self-report may well be an
index of how he has cognitively integrated his
past physiological and physical behavior under
conditions of fear arousing stimuli. (p. 262)

Therefore, self-report scales have traditionally been the

most frequently employed measure of communication apprehen-

sion.

Dimensions of CA. Initial research in CA focused exclu-

sively on oral or source apprehension, probably as a result

of the emphasis on speaking as a major communication skill

(Wheeless, 1975). Over the past decade, however, the con-

struct of CA has been broadened to encompass other modes of

communication (McCroskey, 1982). As a multidimensional con-

struct, CA varies with the functional role, either source or

receiver, in which an individual's communication behavior

occurs (Wheeless, 1975). In order to better understand the

aspects of the present study it is necessary to survey the

literature concerned specifically with source apprehension

(SA) and receiver apprehension (RA).


Source Apprehension

The majority of apprehension literature is based on the

study of source apprehension (SA). The construct is defined

by McCroskey (1977) as "an individual's level of fear or

anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communi-

cation with another person or persons" (p. 78). Though not

specifically stated in the definition, this conceptualization

of SA is based on anxiety concerning oral communication

(McCroskey, 1982, p. 137).




24

McCroskey (1977) stated that source apprehension was

one of the most pervasive communication problems in the

United States. Unacceptably high levels of SA were found

to exist among student populations. Approximately 20% of

students in major universities may be described as high

level apprehensives (McCroskey, 1970). Similar numbers of

SA have been observed in public schools at all levels, and

among adult populations as well (McCroskey, 1977).

Effects of SA. The effects of SA are firmly established

by research. Those who experience high levels of apprehen-

sion withdraw from and seek to avoid communication whenever

possible (McCroskey, 1977; McCroskey & Leppard, 1975). As a

result of this withdrawal and avoidance, highly source appre-

hensive individuals will be perceived less positively by

others than will those who experience low levels of SA

(McCroskey & Richmond, 1976; McCroskey, Richmond, Daly, &

Cox, 1975).

As a further result of communication avoidance, those

with high level SA will experience less positive achievement

in terms of their economic and social lives (Freimuth, 1976).

In relation to the academic environment, the negative impact

is clearly shown. Students with high SA have been found to

have lower overall college grade point averages (McCroskey &

Anderson, 1976), score lower on achievement on standardized

tests (Bashore, 1971), receiver lower grades in small classes

in junior high (Hurt, Preiss & Davis, 1976) and college

(Scott & Wheeless, 1976). These findings are heightened by





25

the fact that no meaningful relationship between SA and

intelligence has been found (Davis, 1977).


Receiver Apprehension

Wheeless (1975), concerned with the multidimensionality

of CA, stated that

although communication scholars have verbal-
ized concern for receiving and processing informa-
tion (we spend more of our time as receivers than
sources), little concern has been evidenced for
receiver apprehension, which would most directly
affect decoding and response tendencies. (p. 261)

Recognizing the importance of the receiver to communication

encounters and working under the general construct of CA,

Wheeless (1975) developed the theory of receiver apprehen-

sion (RA). RA is conceptualized as the "fear of misinter-

preting, inadequately processing, and/or not being able to

adjust psychologically to messages sent by others" (p. 263).

Subsequent research by Beatty, Behnke and Henderson (1980)

and Wheeless and Scott (1977) demonstrated RA and SA to be

orthogonally distinct constructs.

Based on Wheeless' (1975) assertion that RA deals in

some measure with information processing, researchers have

focused attention on this area of the construct. Beatty

(1981) found that difficulty in information processing pro-

duced a cognitive backlog resulting in anxiety which, in

turn, resulted in avoidance of receiving new messages. As

an extension of this research, Beatty and Payne (1981)

explored the relationship between RA and cognitive complexity

and found them to be significantly positively correlated.




26

The fear of inadequately processing information was confirmed

as a dimension of RA.

Effects of RA. The majority of RA literature is based

on research testing the impact of RA on learning. Wheeless

and Scott (1977) found high level receiver apprehensives

achieved lower academic progress across a number of criterion

referenced indices. Later research on learning in a specific

course revealed similar effects (Scott & Wheeless, 1977).

Scott and Wheeless (1977), in an investigation of student

attitudes and levels of satisfaction with different instruc-

tional strategies discovered that high level receiver appre-

hensives displayed less favorable attitudes toward lecture

courses, oral assignments and in-class discussion.

Listening and RA. Listening research, though not pre-

viously concerned specifically with RA, has focused on ele-

ments of listening behavior which may be related to this

construct. Barbara (1971) reported that listeners are often

bombarded by more messages than can be effectively heard and,

therefore, have difficulty comprehending them. The result

is a faulty or disorganized communication system (p. 27).

An overloading or jamming of the system may result in listen-

ing behavior designed to escape from the input overload

(Taylor, 1964).

Research also indicated that listeners under continual

pressure to digest incoming messages are often tense and ill

at ease (Barbara, 1971, p. 39). Nichols and Stevens (1957)

reported that difficult listening created tension and,




27

therefore, listeners tended to avoid difficult listening

situations (pp. 107-108).

Anxiety or fear stemming from the listening situation

may, in turn, result in inefficient listening. Johnson

(1966) found that poor listeners had to be taught first to

relax before good listening skills could be taught (p. 36).

Barbara (1971) also reported anxiety or fear to impact nega-

tively on efficient listening (p. 91). As individuals with

high levels of RA are characteristically anxious about

receiving messages, RA and effective listening comprehension

would seem to be negatively correlated.

Because of the importance of listening as a unique and

vital communication skill, it is necessary to expand our

knowledge of the process and the factors which may affect

the development. Communication apprehension, specifically

the dimensions of receiver apprehension and source apprehen-

sion, as indicated by the preceding review of literature,

may be related to the individual's listening performance,

particularly in an educational environment.


Rationale and Hypotheses

Listening is considered to be an important variable in

the individual's ability to acquire and process information

and is important, therefore, to the individual's ability to

function in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex

society (Lundsteen, 1979; Work, 1978). Though traditionally

neglected in educational systems and often mistakenly assumed

to be an offshoot of other language arts skills, research has





28

identified listening as a trait separate from other verbal

abilities (Biggs, 1956). Listening is also considered to be

an important variable influencing the way an individual

learns to think or process information (Lundsteen, 1979).

However, research in listening as a communication competency

has been relatively sparse, confined for the most part to

attempts to develop feasible and reliable measures of the

skill (Backlund et al., 1980).

Bakan (1966) suggested that there was not enough known

about the listening process because of the complexity of

inter-relational factors involved in the communication event.

He stated that research in listening should take into account

differences among people due to a variety of variables (p. 458).

Harwood (1966) supported this viewpoint and indicated that

degrees of listenability of a message, long a concern of com-

munication scholars, could only be assigned in terms of a

specific group or person receiving the message (p. 24).

Therefore, those educators and agencies responsible for

assessing the communication competency of individuals,

including their listening ability, must also be sensitive

to individual variables which might affect the processing

of information, and make provisions for exceptional popula-

tions (Rubin et al., 1982).

As noted, one variable already shown to affect one's

ability to learn and process information is that of communi-

cation apprehension (CA). The construct of receiver appre-

hension (RA), in particular, relates to the decoder or





29

listener function of communication. However, no study of

the relationship between RA and listening has been published

to date though both involve information reception and infor-

mation processing as determined by both apprehension and

listening scholars. Research by Beatty (1981) suggested

that RA was a function of unassimilated information due to

processing difficulties. This finding was consistent with

Wheeless' (1975) assertion that RA did deal with the fear of

processing information and adjusting to messages sent by

others (p. 266). Further, Beatty and Payne (1981) asserted

that the information processing ability of an individual as

shown by a cognitive complexity measure was related to the

construct of RA.

Listening scholars have also pointed to an overload or

jamming of the communication system due to the number and

intensity of incoming stimuli which resulted in poor listen-

ing behavior (Fessenden, 1955; Taylor, 1964). The anxiety

or tension concerning communication and the withdrawal from

or avoidance of communication situations characteristic of

apprehensives have also been reported in listening literature

(Nichols & Lewis, 1954; Tutolo, 1977). Barbara (1971), in

particular, discussed the effect of anxiety about receiving

messages on listening behavior and reported a curtailing of

"social contact" (communication encounters) with others to

avoid listening situations (p. 129).

The effect of source apprehension (SA) on listening

behavior has also been ignored by communication scholars.





30

Research has shown the effect of SA on the oral or source

function of communication, and SA has been linked to a number

of achievement measures and possible causes for its relative

importance to learning have been examined (McCroskey, 1977)

but the impact of SA on listening behavior has not been con-

sidered.

Though not as obviously related to the receiver function

of communication, a link between SA and listening behavior

has been reported. Beatty, Behnke and McCallum (1978) found

that subjects anticipating hearing a lecture reported lower

levels of SA than did those anticipating a speech perform-

ance. Johnson (1966) reported that tense or anxious individ-

uals did not listen as well as those who were calm and relaxed.

Any measure which might stimulate anxiety or fear, then, would

appear to impact on listening behavior. Barbara (1971), for

example, in subjective observations indicated that those lis-

teners forced to respond orally rather than be allowed to

receive messages passively became anxious and restless and

exhibited poor listening behavior (pp. 64-65).

Based on extant apprehension literature, researchers

concerned with the effects of apprehension on educational

achievement would report less satisfaction and lower achieve-

ment in lecture type listening environments than in small

group or discussion situations with the inverse true for

source apprehensives (Wheeless, 1975; Daly, 1978b). However,

Scott and Wheeless (1977) indicated that such was not the

case. Rather, they found that attitudes and satisfaction for




31

oral assignments and discussion were low for both oral and

receiver apprehensives. Receiver apprehensives may find it

just as difficult to perform as source apprehensives because

needed information was not adequately received or processed.

(This does not preclude the individual from being both

source and receiver apprehensive.)

Though RA has been shown to be a separate and distinct

trait (Beatty, Behnke & Henderson, 1980), some researchers do

report a relationship between RA and SA in educational

environments. McDowell and McDowell (1978) found highly

significant correlations between RA and SA scores at all

educational levels. Scott and Wheeless (1977) noted a rela-

tionship between achievement measures for the two apprehen-

sive constructs. Individuals highly apprehensive in either

the source or receiver dimension, then, may also report high

apprehension in the other dimension. The interaction of the

two dimensions of apprehension might impact significantly on

learning or achievement.

There would appear to be a potential relationship

between the oral and aural processes of information process-

ing in educational situations considered potentially anxiety-

producing to both receiver and source apprehensives. In

particular, anticipation of oral performance as might be

experienced in most small group or discussion section class-

rooms could be a significant variable in the listening

behavior of both source and receiver apprehensives.

The study reported here was designed to examine the

theoretical and empirical relationship between communication




32

apprehension and listening comprehension. Additionally, the

possible correlation of receiver apprehension and source

apprehension was examined, as well as the interaction of

these two constructs on measures of listening comprehension.

Because of the importance of listening to the education

situation and the reported impact of RA and SA on educational

achievement and satisfaction, the investigation was conducted

in a "normal" classroom environment. Threat and non-threat

conditions in the classroom were controlled by manipulating

the anticipation of oral performance and will be discussed

in the next section.

Literature in the areas of apprehension and listening

indicated that the variables of sex, age, intelligence and

education level have little or no impact on measures of RA,

SA or listening comprehension. Therefore, these factors were

not controlled for in the design of the present study.

The variable of mood state, however, may affect scores

on a listening test. Nichols and Lewis (1954) reported that

an individual's mental set will override other factors in

determining listening behavior. Other scholars have focused

on the difficulty of maintaining attention and concentration

in a listening situation. The difficulty may lie in part

with the mood or emotional state of the individual at a par-

ticular time (Kelly, 1965; Lundsteen, 1979). The mood of

the individual may then be an intervening variable in the

measure of listening ability and was included in the measure-

ment phase of this research study.






Definitions

The following definitions were developed after a review

of literature and a consideration of the design and objec-

tives of the present study.

1. Source Apprehension is operationally defined as an

individual's score on the Personal Report of Communication

Apprehension (PRCA) (see Appendix A).

2. Receiver Apprehension is operationally defined as

an individual's score on the Receiver Apprehension Test (RAT)

(see Appendix B).

3. Mood State is operationally defined as an individ-

ual's score on the Profile of Mood States (POMS) (see

Appendix C).

4. Listening is operationally defined as the individ-

ual's score on the Sequential Test of Educational Progress

(STEP) Listening Test which deals specifically with the com-

prehension level of listening (see Appendix D).

5. Threat is defined as the condition under which an

individual anticipates an oral performance at the completion

of a listening test.

6. Non-threat is defined as the condition under which

an individual has no anticipation of an oral performance at

the completion of a listening test.

7. Message is defined as test passages from the

Sequential Test of Educational Progress recorded on audio

tape.






Research Hypotheses

Based on the review of related literature and the need

indicated for research on communication variables which may

affect listening, the following research hypotheses were set

forth:


Hypothesis 1:



Hypothesis 2:


Hypothesis


Hypothesis 4:



Hypothesis 5:





Hypothesis 6:


Subjects' scores on receiver apprehension
and source apprehension tests will be
positively related.

Subjects' listening comprehension scores
will be negatively related with receiver
apprehension scores.

Subjects' listening comprehension scores
will be negatively related to source
apprehension scores.

Subjects' listening comprehension scores
will be negatively related with mood
scores.

Subjects who have higher degrees of
receiver apprehension will have lower
listening comprehension scores than sub-
jects who have lower degrees of receiver
apprehension in a threat condition.

Subjects who have higher degrees of
source apprehension will have lower
listening comprehension scores than
subjects who have lower degrees of
source apprehension in a threat condi-
tion.


Problem Statement

These hypotheses seek to assess the relationship between

communication apprehension and listening comprehension in an

educational environment taking into account the threat of

anxiety-producing conditions and the mood state of the lis-

tener. The following chapter will discuss the process of

analysis used to test each hypothesis.











CHAPTER II
METHODOLOGY


Research Design

This study was conducted to explore the effects of RA

and SA on listening comprehension in a classroom environment.

In order to balance the need for maximum realism in research

with the need for optimal experimenter control (Miller &

Fontes, 1974), the research was carried out as part of regular

classroom instructional procedures in intact college classes.

Students in eight public speaking classes, at the University

of Florida in September 1983, were chosen to participate in

the study. Administration of pretest communication apprehen-

sion report forms was incorporated into a unit dealing with

communication anxiety. Administration of a listening test

was included as a part of the unit concerning listening

behavior.

It was hoped that the use of intact groups would allow

more naturalistic results in an educational setting as well

as yield a better sample of degrees of apprehension. Because

individuals with high levels of CA characteristically tend to

avoid any situation involving communication, an experimental

situation which depended upon voluntary participation of

individual subjects would probably be avoided by high level




36

apprehensives, even if they were promised a reward for their

participation.

A two-part listening test was administered to students

in one of eight experimental permutations. Two sets of tape

recorded messages (A and B), each made up of three discrete

passages, were used as stimuli for the test. Message order

(A/B) and test condition (threat/non-threat) were systemati-

cally varied as follows:


Condition 1:


Condition 2:


Condition 3:


Condition 4:


Condition 5:


Condition 6:


Condition 7:


Condition 8:


Threat Part I
Message A

Threat Part I
Message B

Non-threat Part I
Message A

Non-threat Part I
Message B

Threat Part I
Message A

Threat Part I
Message B

Non-threat -Part I
Message A

Non-threat- Part I
Message B


then Non-threat Part
Message B

then Non-threat Part
Message A

then Threat Part II
Message B

then Threat Part II
Message A

then Threat Part II
Message B

then Threat Part II
Message A

then Non-threat Part
Message B

then Non-threat Part
Message A


This experimental design controls for order effect of


test condition.


Additionally, though messages in the listen-


ing test have been found to be equivalent in its development

by the Educational Testing Service, the design adjusts for

possible variation in consistency or difficulty of messages.

It also allows each subject to serve as his/her own control.




37

Subjects Used in This Study

This study used a pool of 215 college student volunteers

who were enrolled in the public speaking course (SPC 3601) at

the University of Florida during the Fall Semester of 1983.

Subjects received neither monetary reward nor bonus class

credit for their participation. They were, however, encour-

aged by their instructors to take part in the experiment.

Subjects were informed of their right to decline participa-

tion and were allowed to leave at any point during the exper-

iment (see Appendix E).

Twelve subjects were not adequately identified on all

test forms and had to be dropped from the study. Six subjects

considered English to be their second language and were also

removed from the pool. The largest subject loss, however,

was due to the time span between the administration of CA

report forms and the listening experiment. Thirty subjects

failed to complete both the communication apprehension and

the listening portions of the experiment. A total N of 167

was achieved with an average of 21 students in each of the

eight classes.


Materials

Communication apprehension has traditionally been meas-

ured by use of self-report instruments because they are con-

sidered to be the most valid (Wheeless, 1975) and the most

practical (McCroskey, 1970) measures available. For the

purposes of this study two highly regarded self-report meas-

ures of CA were employed.




38

Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (PRCA)

The PRCA is a Likert-type self-report instrument first

developed by McCroskey in 1970. The test consists of 20

statements designed to measure source apprehension across a

variety of communication contexts (see Appendix A).

The PRCA is widely accepted as a valid and reliable

measure of SA: internal reliability estimates have ranged

from .92 to .96 while reliability judged through the test-

retest method was .82 (McCroskey, 1978, p. 201). The

validity of the PRCA has been established through compar-

isons to other CA measuring instruments. Daly (1978a) com-

pared eight scales used to measure anxiety and found the

PRCA to be one of the three most reliable instruments among

the eight measures (p. 216). He also found the PRCA to be

the most "encompassing instrument" of the group (p. 216).


Receiver Apprehension Test (RAT)

The RAT is the only prominent self-report measure of

receiver bound anxiety published to date and has been the

assessment instrument used in all RA studies conducted.

Wheeless (1975) developed the RAT as a Likert-type scale

consisting of 20 items which require the individual to

reflect upon how he/she feels when listening. The instrument

relies heavily on the PRCA for content of its items and there-

fore, measures apprehension related to communication (p. 264)

(see Appendix B).

Research by Beatty et al. (1980) documented the relia-

bility and validity of the RAT as a measure of listening




39

anxiety. They reported that the RAT correlated with an

alternative measure of listening anxiety, predicted specific

anxiety responses to listening tasks, and was stable over

time (p. 35). The RAT has also functioned in a manner con-

sistent with theoretical expectations concerning RA (Beatty,

1981; Scott & Wheeless, 1977). Reliability estimates for the

RAT have ranged from .80 to .86 (Beatty & Payne, 1981).


Profile of Mood States (POMS)

The POMS is a rapid, economical method of assessing an

individual's mood state (see Appendix C). The POMS consists

of 65 five-point adjective rating scales which measure six

identifiable moods or affective states: tension-anxiety;

depression-dejection; anger-hostility; vigor-activity;

fatigue-inertia; and confusion-bewilderment. A total mood

score is obtained by summing the scores across all six fac-

tors (weighting vigor negatively). A total mood score

yields a single global estimate of affective state (McNair,

Lorr & Droppleman, 1981).

Internal consistency of the POMS factors were reported

by McNair and Lorr (1964) to be near .90 or above. Test-

retest reliability for the six factors ranged from .61 to .69

(McNair & Lorr, 1964). The six factor analytic replication

in the development of the POMS may be taken as evidence of

factorial validity (McNair et al., 1981). Lorr, Daston and

Smith (1967) also identified eight mood factors, five of

which confirmed POMS factors.






Sequential Test of Educational
Progress--Listening (STEP)

The difficulty in assessing listening comprehension has

been pointed out in the preceding review of related litera-

ture. In order to obtain the best possible measure of listen-

ing comprehension for the purposes of this study, the

researcher examined all the listening assessment material

collected by the Florida State Task Force on College Level

Assessment Skills Program, in Tallahassee on May 18, 1983.

Task Force personnel recommended consideration of the 1957

edition of the STEP Listening Test. A thorough examination

of this instrument, however, indicated that it was not prac-

tical for the allowed time and that the test passages did not

adequately meet the criteria set forth by Backlund et al.

(1982). More important, the 1957 edition dealt with levels

of listening other than comprehension.

A subsequent discussion with the Educational Testing

Service personnel resulted in an examination of the 1979

edition of the STEP Listening Test (see Appendix D). This

test proved to be the instrument most feasible and available

for use in a study of RA and SA in an educational situation.

The 1979 STEP, prepared by the Educational Testing Service

and published by McGraw-Hill, is widely accepted as a reliable

measuring instrument of listening comprehension and has been

used in a number of listening studies (McCaleb, 1981).

In addition, the STEP best met the criteria for listen-

ing assessments proposed by Backlund et al. (1982). The

stimulus material and test questions were recorded in a




41

natural speaking style. The test called for a single minimal

response to a specific question, and all stimulus material

and test items were read to the subjects in order to minimize

the mediation of reading ability. Test passage length aver-

aged 90 seconds, and a wide variety of instruction interests

were covered in the material.


STEP Audio Tape

In keeping with the recommendations of Backlund et al.

(1982), the stimulus material and test items of the STEP were

recorded on audio tape. A trained female speaker delivered

all instructions, stimulus passages, and test items. The

eight forms of the test were recorded on separate tapes.

The tapes were reviewed by three professionals, all

speech instructors with advanced degrees in communication.

They evaluated the tapes for quality and consistency of pre-

sentation. The audio quality of the tapes was judged to be

below professional standards by the reviewers. However, the

tapes were considered to be consistently audible and of ade-

quate quality for use in the experiment. The quality of the

speaker's presentation was determined to be excellent, con-

sistent in both rate and variety for all messages.


Post-Experimental Questionnaire

A brief questionnaire compiled by the researcher sought

to assess the subjects' prior training in speech and communi-

cation apprehension. A section of the questionnaire was

designed to determine if the subjects had any hearing loss




42

or disability. The subjects were also asked to indicate if

English was their first language (see Appendix E).


Procedure

During the first week of 1983 Fall Semester, the director

of the basic speech course randomly chose 8 public speaking

classes from a total of 11 for participation in the study.

All instructors were graduate students in communication

studies at the University of Florida, and were informed of

the purposes and procedures of the experiment during an

instructional session.

In the second week of the 1983 Fall Semester, instructors

distributed the RAT and the PRCA. Students were told they

were being asked to complete a survey designed to discover how

people perceived their personal communication. They were

informed that scores would be kept confidential and would have

no bearing on their grades. They were asked to use their

social security numbers as identification of both measures.

The experimental phase of the study was conducted on two

consecutive days, August 30 and 31 of 1983. The experiment

was carried out during the regular meeting times of each

class. Five different class period times were used, the

first beginning at 8:00 A.M. and the fifth beginning at 12:20

P.M. The experiment was conducted in the regular classrooms

of the eight groups. Of the two buildings and three differ-

ent rooms, none was significantly more comfortable or unique.

Weather conditions remained stable for the two days and no

unusual happening occurred to influence the procedures or to

prejudice the results of the listening assessment.




43

On the date of the experiment, instructors informed the

subjects that in keeping with the importance of listening to

communication, an assessment of listening comprehension would

be done during that class period. Students were again

informed that their scores would be kept confidential and

would have no bearing on class grade. The instructor then

introduced the researcher as a "specialist in listening

assessment" who conducted the assessment from that point.

The researcher first explained the purpose of the experi-

ment to each class. In order to enhance uniformity among

individual groups, the researcher conducted all eight tests.

Each group was given the same information in the same time

frame and presentation style.

Subjects were told that the researcher was collecting

data on listening comprehension. They were informed that

they were under no obligation to participate and could leave

at any time. Students wishing to participate were asked to

read and sign an "informed consent" statement indicating they

understood the purpose of the experiment (see Appendix F).

The only element of the study the students were not initially

informed of concerned the experimental condition of threat or

non-threat as a factor in the research.

Subjects were then given the POMS to complete and asked

to use only a social security number as identification. The

POMS took no more than 10 minutes to complete. The researcher

collected this instrument and the informed consent statements.

The answer booklets for the first part of the STEP Listening




44

Test was distributed. Social security numbers were again

used for identification. A sample form of the test was

passed out and instruction on the proper way to complete the

form was given. Students all had prior practice in standard-

ized test taking and no difficulty understanding the forth-

coming directions.

The researcher then turned on the tape recorder, and a

sample passage was played. The recorder was turned off and

the researcher asked if everyone could hear. No particular

difficulties were indicated by the students beyond raising

the volume of the tape. Students were also given an oppor-

tunity to ask questions at this point. The researcher then

informed the subjects that all information would come from

the tape only and no communication with the researcher was

allowed, barring unforeseen circumstances. The tape was

played through Part One.

Subjects under the Non-threat/Threat condition heard

directions for written responses to test passages only in

Part One of the test. Instructions for Part Two informed

the subjects that, following the written test, some individ-

uals would be called upon to orally answer questions and/or

summarize test passage material in an impromptu speech (see

Appendix G). Test passages and questions were then read.

The researcher turned off the tape and collected answer

sheets. A series of questions were asked of randomly chosen

students. One student was also chosen at random to deliver

the impromptu speech. The oral response session took no more

than 5 minutes.




45

Students in the Threat/Non-threat condition heard

directions for Part One which called for oral responses to

questions and/or a summary of test passages in an impromptu

speech after the completion of the test questions. At the

completion of Part One, the researcher stopped the tape and

collected the answer sheets. Randomly chosen students

answered a series of questions and one was asked to summarize

a test passage in an impromptu speech. The tape was then

turned on and Part Two answer sheets distributed. Directions

informed students that only a written response was required

to test passages. After completion of the test, the tape was

stopped and answer forms collected.

Students in the Threat/Threat condition were informed

that oral responses were required after Part One. After com-

pletion of Part One, the researcher collected answer forms

and administered the series of questions and assigned a sum-

mary speech to a subject. The same procedure was followed

for Part Two.

Students in the Non-threat/Non-threat condition were

only informed of general directions for written responses for

Part One. No mention of an oral response was made. At the

completion of Part One, answer forms were collected and Part

Two began. The same procedures were followed for Part Two.

Immediately following the completion of Part Two for all

eight classes, the subjects were asked to complete the post-

experimental questionnaire. Subjects were then debriefed.

They were again assured that their scores would be kept




46

confidential. They were also told that results of the test

and the research could be obtained by contacting the

researcher at the completion of the study.


Analysis of Results

The research hypotheses were tested by using a number

of procedures from the Statistical Analysis System (SAS,

1982). Independent variables were levels of RA, levels of

SA and test condition; listening comprehension score served

as the dependent variable; mood score was considered as a

covariate. All probability levels were set at .05.

The level of receiver apprehension and/or source appre-

hension may or may not have a significant effect on an indi-

vidual's performance on a listening test. The process of

analysis presented in this chapter was designed to assess the

possible effects of communication apprehension on listening

comprehension while considering and controlling for a threat

or anxiety-producing situation and the subject's mood state

at the time of listening performance. The results of this

analysis are discussed in the following chapter.











CHAPTER III
RESULTS


This chapter presents tabulated results of the PRCA,

the RAT, the POMS, the Post-Experimental Questionnaire and

the STEP Listening Test. Statistical findings in response

to the study's six hypotheses are also discussed.


Self-Report Findings

The PRCA and the RAT were scored by the experimenter

and checked for accuracy. The levels of RA and SA for indi-

vidual subjects were noted. Both RA and SA scores were

divided into the levels of high, medium and low once the

mean and standard deviation for each measure were calculated

(McCroskey, 1983).


Personal Report of Communication
Apprehension (PRCA)

Each subject completed the PRCA approximately one week

before participating in the experimental phase of the study.

The highest PRCA score obtained from the 167 subjects was 96

(high apprehension) while the lowest score was 27 (low appre-

hension). The mean score for subjects in this study was 54.2,

with 77 subjects scoring above the mean and 90 scoring at or

below the mean with a standard deviation of 15.2. The mean

PRCA score obtained in this study served as the dividing point

between high, medium and low subjects. Twenty-seven subjects

47




48

scoring one standard deviation below the mean were grouped as

low apprehensives. Those 28 subjects scoring one standard

deviation above the mean were grouped as high apprehensives,

and the remaining 112 subjects were classified as medium

apprehensives (see Table 1).


Receiver Apprehension Test (RAT)

Each subject also completed the RAT approximately one

week before participating in the experimental phase of this

study. The highest RAT score obtained from the 167 subjects

was 85 (high apprehensive) with the lowest score being 21

(low apprehensive). The mean score for all subjects was 40.1

with a standard deviation of 12.8. Sixty-two subjects scored

above the mean and 105 scored at or below the mean. Twenty-

seven subjects scoring one standard deviation below the mean

were rated as low apprehensive and those 25 subjects scoring

one standard deviation above the mean were rated as high

apprehensives, while the 115 remaining subjects were rated

as medium apprehensives (see Table 1).


Profile of Mood States (POMS)

The POMS was scored by using hand overlays and instruc-

tions provided by the POMS Manual (McNair et al., 1981).

Individual scores on each of the six factors were calculated

for each subject. The total mood score for each individual

was obtained by adding the six factors (weighting "vigor"

negatively). The total mood score is assumed to be important

in obtaining a single estimate of each individual's affective
















Table 1

Group Means of Communication Apprehension Variables



Test CA Level CA Score n


High 96 28
69

PRCA Medium 68 112
40

Low 39 27
27



High 85 25
53

RAT Medium 52 115
29

Low 28 27
21




50

state. The total score was considered the most important fac-

tor as an individual's mood may impact on his/her listening

comprehension. Mean scores for each factor were also calcu-

lated (see Table 2).


Post-Experimental Questionnaire

The post-experimental questionnaire was administered

immediately following the experiment. Forty-seven subjects

reported prior speech training. Approximately one half of

the subjects with speech training described their prior

instruction to be in an introductory speech course at the

University of Florida, while other subjects indicated

instruction in high school or community college public

speaking courses. No subjects reported previous training

in communication anxiety reduction. Six subjects reported

that English was their second language and consequently were

removed from the research. Two subjects indicated high deci-

bel hearing losses; these subjects failed to complete all

phases of the experiment and were removed from the study

prior to learning of their hearing loss.


STEP Listening Test

The dependent measure examined in this study was the

score on the STEP Listening Test. The scores for Part One

and Part Two of the STEP Listening Test were calculated

separately, and were then combined to create a total listen-

ing comprehension score. Scores for the two parts of the

test were recorded separately with an indication of the test
















Table 2

Mean Scores for Mood State Factors


Mood Factor M SD


Tension 11.796 6.524

Depression 8.989 8.561

Anxiety 8.790 8.391

Vigor 18.359 5.750
(weighted negatively)

Fatigue 10.167 5.862

Confusion 8.101 4.797

Total Mood 29.149 30.328




52

condition and message order for each so that it would be pos-

sible to assess the possible effect that each might have on

the results.

The highest possible total score on the STEP was 20

points, each part of the test being worth 10 points. The over-

all mean score for subjects was 17.9 across all conditions.

The mean score for subjects under the threat condition was

7.99 with the highest possible score being 10 points. The mean

score for subjects under the non-threat condition was 7.826

with the highest possible score being 10 points (see Table 3).

The mean score for subjects under threat as the first

condition was 9.33 compared to a mean score of 8.85 for sub-

jects under non-threat as the first condition. The average

in the control group for threat was 8.55 compared to the

average in the non-threat group of 9 (see Table 4).

The STEP Listening Test was broken into two parts for

this study. Though the test was designed to be given as one

unit, the internal validity of the test was not compromised

by this division (Bailey, 1982). Each of the stimulus pas-

sages and test items were determined to be equivalent and

therefore, order of presentation did not alter the results,

in any way. As expected, the effect of the messages on sub-

jects' mean scores did not vary significantly. The mean

score for Message A was 8.90 while the mean score for Message

B was 8.99.

By examining the mean scores, little difference was

observed among subjects as grouped either according to test

condition or message choice. However, statistical analysis

















Table 3

Test Condition Mean Scores for STEP Listening Test



Condition M N


Across
Condition 17.900 167

Threat 7.799 142

Non-threat 7.826 144

















Table 4

STEP Means for Test Condition Order


Condition Order M N


Threat 1st 9.33 40
2nd 9.17


Non-threat 1st 8.85 40
2nd 9.67


Threat- 1st
Threat 2nd


Non-threat- 1st
Non-threat 2nd




55

of the hypotheses also assessed possible effects and inter-

action of the independent variables of RA, SA, and test con-

dition on the listening comprehension scores while considering

the possible effect of mood. These analyses and interpreta-

tions allowed for an indepth and comprehensive understanding

of the relationship between communication apprehension and

listening comprehension.

Hypotheses Test Results

This study assessed the effects of RA and SA on the lis-

tening comprehension of subjects in a communication anxiety

producing condition in the classroom. The procedures were

designed to explore the possible impact of individual mood

scores on their listening comprehension scores. Six statis-

tical null hypotheses were examined, with the probability

levels set at .05 on each.

The initial hypothesis tested concerned the relationship

between RA and SA:

HI: Subjects'scores on receiver apprehension and source
apprehension tests will not be significantly posi-
tively correlated.

By using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) procedure

correlation (SAS, 1982, p. 503), RA and SA were found not to

be significantly related at the .05 level (p< .6730). RA and

SA seem to be separate and distinct elements; the presence or

absence of one does not affect levels of the other.

The second hypothesis focused on the effect of RA on

listening comprehension scores:

H2: Subjects'listening comprehension scores will not be
significantly negatively correlated with receiver
apprehension scores.




56

A partial correlation using SPSS Language inside SAS (1982)

was used to test the second hypothesis. With the use of the

partial correlation, a covariate of total mood score could

be introduced. The use of the covariate allows adjustment for

group differences and provides a more powerful (sensitive)

statistical analysis than would the analysis of listening

scores without the covariate data (Huck, Cormier, & Bounds,

1974, p. 135).

When using partial correlation procedure with the total

mood score as the covariate, levels of RA were not signifi-

cantly correlated with levels of listening comprehension

(p < .491); therefore, this hypothesis cannot be rejected at

the .05 level.

The third hypothesis tested was concerned with the effect

of SA on listening comprehension scores:

H3: Subjects' listening comprehension scores will not
be significantly negatively correlated to source
apprehension scores.

Following the same procedure as used in Hypothesis Two, a

partial correlation with total mood score as a covariate

(SAS, 1982) was used to test this hypothesis. Levels of SA

were also not significantly correlated with levels of listen-

ing comprehension (p < .170); and consequently, this hypothesis

cannot be rejected at the .05 level.

The fourth hypothesis tested dealt with the effect of

mood score on subjects' listening comprehension scores:

H4: Subjects' listening comprehension scores will not
be significantly negatively correlated with mood
scores.




57

An overall procedure correlation (SAS, 1982) indicated that

neither total mood score nor individual mood scores were sig-

nificantly correlated with listening comprehension scores.

This hypothesis cannot be rejected at the .05 level (see

Table 5).

The fifth hypothesis tested the effect of RA on listen-

ing comprehension in a threat condition:

H5: Listening comprehension scores for subjects who have
higher degrees of receiver apprehension will not be
significantly lower than listening comprehension
scores for subjects who have lower degrees of appre-
hension in a threat condition.

A two-factor analysis of variance with repeated measures with

RA as the covariate (SAS, 1982) was used to test this hypoth-

esis. The analysis of variance with repeated measures was

the more appropriate analysis for this study as the same sub-

jects were measured at different levels of the dependent

variable. The simple analysis of variance would not indicate

the repeated measures (Huck et al., 1974, pp. 102-104). By

using the procedure, the level of RA accounts for a statis-

tically insignificant amount of variance in the dependent

variable of listening comprehension scores (p < .6550).

Therefore, this hypothesis cannot be rejected at the .05

level (see Table 6).

Similarly, the sixth hypothesis tested concerned the

effect of SA on listening comprehension scores:

H6: Listening comprehension scores for subjects who
have higher degrees of source apprehension will
not be significantly lower than listening compre-
hension scores for subjects who have lower degrees
of source apprehension in a threat condition.














Table 5

Correlation of Individual Mood Factors and Total Mood
with Listening Comprehension



Mood Factor Listening Comprehension p value


Tension -0.80790 .2993

Depression 0.08508 .2743

Anxiety -0.05477 .4820

Vigor -0.07658 .3253

Fatigue 0.27400 .7252

Confusion -0.11786 .1293

Total Mood -0.04139 .5953















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60

As in the fifth hypothesis, an analysis of variance with

repeated measures and a covariate of SA (SAS, 1982) was used

to test this hypothesis. The level of SA did not account for

a statistically significant amount of variance on the depend-

ent variable of listening comprehension (p < .8335), and this

hypothesis could not be rejected at the .05 level (see Table 6).

The relatively high number of subjects reporting speech

training on the post-experimental questionnaire was considered

unusual enough to warrant further investigation. In order to

determine whether the speech training had any effect on lis-

tening comprehension scores, a two factor analysis of variance

with repeated measures with total mood score as a covariate

was tested. This analysis indicated that there was a differ-

ence between the scores of speech and non-speech trained sub-

jects when the probability level was set at .05 (p > .0252)

(see Table 7).

The factor of speech training appeared to be significant

initially. Therefore, in order to consider the effect of

speech training on listening comprehension scores, as well

as the interaction with SA and RA under test conditions, a

four factor analysis of variance with total mood score as

the covariate was conducted (SAS, 1982). This analysis indi-

cates the overall difference among the levels of each factor

and additionally indicates the impact of the interaction of

the factors on the dependent variable. The use of the

covariate of total mood score controls for any differences

between the groups.














Table 7

Analysis of Variance of the Effect of Speech Training
on Listening Controlling for Total Mood Score



Source DF MD F P


Speech Training
(A) 1 0.36118 5.10 .0252*

Cov. Mood 1 0.03179 0.45 .5037

Error 164 0.07079

Message (B) 1 0.22452 6.95 .0092*

A.B 1 0.02821 0.87 .3514

Error 165 0.03230


*significant at the .05 level




62

Using this analysis, subjects scoring one standard devi-

ation above the mean on RA and SA measures were classified

as high apprehensive. Those scoring one standard deviation

below the mean were classified as low apprehensive, while the

remaining subjects were considered as medium apprehensive

(McCroskey, 1983). With the probability level of .05, again

neither the level of RA, SA or test condition accounted for

a statistically significant amount of variance on the depend-

ent variable of listening comprehension when adjusting for

the effect of mood score. This analysis further confirmed

that the fifth and sixth hypotheses cannot be rejected at the

.05 level. The subjects' speech training, however, did seem

to affect listening scores (p > .0098) (see Table 8).

For a more thorough analysis of the effect of speech

training on listening scores, a Proc Means procedure was

conducted (SAS, 1982). Because of the uneven numbers of sub-

jects in each group, a transformation on the numbers was

necessary in order to complete the analysis. The final

adjusted mean scores indicated a difference between the two

means with the mean for non-speech training being somewhat

higher. However, because of the nature of the data and uneven

subject numbers, the two means cannot be said to be signifi-

cantly different. Therefore, the subjects with no speech

training cannot be said to be better listeners, nor speech-

trained subjects poor ones (see Table 9). Though prior speech

training initially appeared to be an important factor on lis-

tening comprehension, the statistical analyses of this study

cannot support such a conclusion.









Table 8

The Effect of RA, SA, Speech Training, and Test Condition
on Listening Comprehension Controlling for
Total Mood Score



Group DF F PR>F


MTOT 1 0.77 0.3820

RA 2 1.29 0.2763

SA 2 0.06 0.9409

TR 1 6.76 0.0098*

Group 1 0.55 0.4583

RA-SA 4 0.26 0.9059

RA-TR 2 0.23 0.7913

Group-RA 2 0.19 0.8260

SA.TR 2 2.18 0.1152

Group.SA 2 0.68 0.5070

Group.TR 1 0.28 0.5986

RA.SA.TR 3 0.43 0.7322

Group.RA.SA 3 1.43 0.2323

Group-SA-TR 2 0.68 0.5099

Group.RA.TR 2 0.42 0.6566

Group.RA.SA.TR 2 0.79 0.4553


*significant at the


.05 level

















Table 9

Mean Scores for Speech Trained and Non-Trained
Subjects After Transformation


Group M N


Non-Speech 1.35 240


Speech 1.27 94




65

Summary

A wide range of SA and RA scores were obtained in this

study, indicating a wide sample of levels of apprehension.

Subjects reported lower apprehension as receivers (x= 40.1)

than as sources (x= 54.2). This result is not surprising as

persons may be expected to be less apprehensive concerning

receiving information than about serving as communication

sources (Wheeless, 1975). The POMS also yielded a wide range

of scores on each of the six individual mood factors as well

as total mood scores.

The post-experimental questionnaire revealed that none

of the subjects had any training in communication anxiety

reduction. The few subjects for whom English was a second

language or who experienced a hearing loss were removed from

the study. A number of subjects, however, reported prior

speech training. Initially, the factor of prior speech train-

ing was seen to have some possible negative relationship with

listening scores with non-speech trained subjects scoring

higher on listening tests. However, further analysis on the

means of the two groups merely indicated a slight difference

in the scores and cannot be interpreted as a significant fac-

tor in determining listening scores.

In this experimental situation, RA and SA were shown to

be unrelated to each other and to be separate elements in

communication apprehension. Neither RA or SA were shown to

have any effect on listening comprehension; nor were the

treatment conditions of threat and non-threat significant




66

influences on subjects' listening scores. A follow-up com-

parison dividing RA and SA into high, medium and low levels

did not alter results in any fashion. Neither individual

factor scores nor the total mood score was related to listen-

ing scores and did not significantly account for any differ-

ences in scores in any analysis. Thus, the findings of this

study indicate that the dimensions of RA and SA do not

influence listening comprehension in an educational environ-

ment.










CHAPTER IV
DISCUSSION


Conclusions

Communication and educator scholars have long acknowl-

edged that listening is a communication skill vital to the

social and educational development of the individual. For

over 50 years, research has sought to assess various factors

which might enhance or hinder listening ability. In this

study an effort was made to determine if the variable of com-

munication apprehension, particularly the dimensions of

receiver apprehension and source apprehension, would have

any effect on the listening comprehension of subjects in an

education environment under both normal and communication

anxiety provoking situations.

The first conclusion that can be drawn is that the

dimensions of receiver apprehension and source apprehension

are not related. Though McDowell and McDowell (1978)

reported a relationship between the two when assessing the

effect of each on academic progress, this study disclosed

no such relationship. RA and SA are found to be separate

and distinct dimensions of CA; it appears that individuals

may experience high levels of one type of apprehension with-

out experiencing corresponding levels in the other. This

finding does support the conclusions drawn by Wheeless (1975)




68

and McCroskey (1983) that communication apprehension is a

multi-dimensional construct and that it varies with the indi-

vidual communication function performed.

As SA and RA have both been shown to have adverse effects

on the academic progress and satisfaction of students, educa-

tors should be made aware of the importance of the two dimen-

sions. Methods of dealing with SA and RA, however, should

take into account the uni-dimensionality of each. Treatment

for anxiety reduction in one category probably will not

result in anxiety reduction in the other. Likewise, instruc-

tional strategies designed to aid the source apprehensive

individual, such as emphasis on lecture rather than discus-

sion, cannot necessarily be expected to aid the receiver

apprehensive individual. RA and SA are separate and distinct

dimensions of CA and should be assessed and treated as such.

A second research hypothesis in this study was concerned

with the relationship between RA and listening comprehension.

A partial correlation indicated that the two were not related

(p < .491). No other literature published to this date, how-

ever, has assessed the relationship of RA and listening, but

theoretical implications and empirical findings in other

areas strongly suggested such a correlation. Similarly, a

third hypothesis concerned the relationship between SA and

listening comprehension. Following the same procedure, no

correlation between SA and listening was found (p< .170).

This finding confirmed that of Miller and Yerby (1983) who

also found no relationship between the two. They suggested,




69

however, that further studies be conducted because of the

strong implications of a relationship found in communication

research literature.

It is possible that the failure to find significant cor-

relations may be an error in research methodology and/or

instrument reliability and validity. Certainly, currently

available measures of listening skills are imperfect at best.

It is much more likely, however, considering the rigidly con-

trolled design and procedures of the study, that in a normal

classroom environment, neither RA nor SA is related to listen-

ing comprehension. The failure to find correlations may

simply mean that the relationship does not exist in this

particular context.

It should be noted, though, that McCroskey (1983) dis-

cussed the difficulty of assigning corresponding behaviors

to levels of CA. He, in fact, strongly recommended that cau-

tion be exercised when attaching any communication behavior

to a measure of CA. Previous research and conclusions

reached concerning behavior manifested by apprehensives has

been based on aggregate data and has been subject to over-

interpretation. These interpretations do not take into

account the high potential for an individual to deviate from

the norm and to choose from a variety of behaviors designed

to deal with the level of apprehension (p. 15). It cannot be

assumed, therefore, that a highly apprehensive individual

will necessarily exhibit poor listening behavior or score

poorly on a measure of listening comprehension.




70

Further, though research indicates that the majority of

apprehensive individuals tend to avoid or withdraw from com-

munication, some do exhibit an uncommon communication pattern.

These individuals try to overcompensate for their apprehension

and attempt to succeed despite the anxiety (McCroskey, 1983,

p. 17). Some subjects in the present study may have been

motivated to "listen better" precisely because of the discom-

fort experienced in the communication situation. In the

debriefing following the experiment, several subjects did

report a heightening of attention so as to score well on the

listening test. Others indicated increased attention to test

material to avoid any embarrassment should they be called

upon to answer questions orally. In any case, there is no

behavior that is predicted to be a universal product of vary-

ing levels of CA (McCroskey, 1983, p. 16).

The fourth hypothesis dealt with the relationship between

listening comprehension and mood state. A procedure correla-

tion indicated no relationship between six individual mood

factors comprising one's total mood state. Though subjects

reported a wide range of mood scores and total mood affective

states on the POMS, mood did not significantly hinder or aid

in performance on the STEP Listening Test. Though early

literature suggested the importance of mood or mind set on

the individual's predisposition to listen (Brown, 1959;

Nichols & Lewis, 1954), this study did not support those

conclusions.

A thorough examination of the results of a correlation

between mood score and listening comprehension for this




71

particular study (see Table 5, p. 58) reveals that only the

mood factor of "confusion" even began to approach signifi-

cance (p < .1293). If listening is viewed as a form of infor-

mation processing, then confusion could hinder organization

and analysis of aural stimuli. It is possible that the

unexpected experimental situation itself produced the con-

fusion. The subjects, uncertain of what was to occur during

the research, allowed the state to impact on their listening

behavior. The fact the other mood factors did not approach

significance may be a function of the subjects' student

status. In a testing situation, students with years of prac-

tice at test taking may be adept at putting disruptive emo-

tions aside. Whatever the case, mood was in no way a

significant influence on listening comprehension scores in

this study.

The fifth and sixth hypotheses concerned the effect of

levels of RA and SA on measures of listening comprehension

in threatening or communication anxiety producing situations.

A number of statistical procedures, including an analysis of

variance with repeated measures with a covariate, as well as

a four factor analysis of variance with a covariate, indi-

cated that neither level of RA or SA nor the threat condition

significantly influenced measures of listening comprehension.

Though theoretical literature and empirical research

findings suggested otherwise, this study found that listening

comprehension is not affected by either RA or SA regardless

of test condition. Again, a consideration of the behavioral




72

manifestations of CA (McCroskey, 1983) may be helpful. It

is more likely, however, that the situational context of the

experiment may have more meaning for interpretation of the

findings. McCroskey (1983) pointed out that in keeping with

the state properties of RA and SA, students may experience

CA in a certain context at one time and not at others. For

example, subjects may experience high levels of apprehension

when listening to instructional material or answering ques-

tions when they know that an academic grade may depend upon

their response. The same subjects, however, may experience

little or no apprehension about the same situation when no

grade is dependent upon the outcome of the situation.

Subjects in the study discussed here were repeatedly

advised about their right to withdraw from the experiment

and assured that their test results would in no way influence

their course grades. Those few who did withdraw, did so

before the experimental situation began and had no way of

knowing what communication behaviors would be required of

them. Other subjects, even those reporting high levels of

CA, chose to complete all phases of the experiment. Thus,

knowing that test scores would be kept confidential and that

no academic reward or punishment would result from their

participation, subjects' level of apprehension may have been

alleviated to some extent.

In addition, though the time lapse between administra-

tion of the CA self-report forms and the experimental situa-

tion was less than five days, the subjects' levels of




73

apprehension may have been altered by the changing situation.

Methods to overcome the ethical and experimental constraints

upon this type of research have yet to be devised, but may be

necessary in order to more nearly approximately normal situa-

tional levels of CA.

A broader view of the situational aspect of the study

may also shed some light on the findings of the other hypothe-

ses. Brown (1959) stated that the "anticipatory set" of the

listener could directly influence listening ability. Subjects

in this study were college students enrolled in a speech

course. They were told specifically that their listening

comprehension was to be assessed. These subjects then were

prepared or "set" to listen. Scores on the STEP could be a

result of the subjects' preparedness to listen.

As an extension of the preparation or set to listen or

perform on a listening test, a number of scholars have

reported the widespread use of standardized tests in all

levels of education (Anderson, 1981; Marcus, 1981). As sub-

jects in this study were college students, they probably had

years of practice in test taking. Engen, lam and Prediger

(1982), reporting the results of a survey of nation-wide test

usage, stated that nearly all students in grades 7 through 12

took some type of standardized test in every grade (p. 288).

It is possible that years in the educational system had con-

ditioned subjects to overcome mood or anxiety when a testing

situation demanded concentration. The STEP Listening Test,

then, would not be a major cause for anxiety.




74

The phenomenon of "test-wiseness" may also account for

the lack of influence of CA on listening comprehension.

Millman, Bishop and Ebel (1965) defined test wiseness as

the "capacity to utilize the characteristics and formats

of the test and/or test taking situation to receive a high

score" (p. 707). Students may become proficient at test

taking techniques through training and practice independent

of content or context (Callenback, 1973). Thus, CA in a

listening test situation would not necessarily produce any

lessening of performance on the STEP because test-wise sub-

jects would have no difficulty in responding to the situation.

The post-experimental questionnaire yielded another pos-

sible variable in the development of listening ability. Prior

speech training was reported by 47 of the subjects. An analy-

sis of variance with repeated measures and a covariate indi-

cated there was some difference in the listening comprehension

scores of trained versus non-trained subjects. The variable

of speech training was added to the four factor analysis of

variance with a covariate. In this instance, only speech

training affected listening scores (p > .0098). However, a

Proc Means procedure indicated that while speech-trained

subjects scored somewhat lower than did non-trained subjects

there was no significant difference in the means. Neverthe-

less, even a limited finding such as this may be disturbing

if the value of speech training is to be accepted. Yet,

speech education literature explicitly states that listening

is not a regular part of speech instruction (Steil, Barker &




75

Watson, 1983) so subjects should not be expected to exhibit

superior listening skills. Furthermore, subjects were not

asked how they fared in the reported speech courses. Even

if speech training could be expected to better listening

skills, for this particular study, there is no way of knowing

how much a student actually learned in the particular course

mentioned. Thus, the finding in this study can in no way be

interpreted as support either for or against speech training

in the development of listening comprehension skills.


Limitations of the Study

Though the major variables in this study were controlled

as much as possible, there are factors which limit the gen-

eralizability of the results. The first limitation may be in

the subject population itself. Though the study was specifi-

cally conducted in "normal" college classrooms to obtain more

naturalistic setting, only speech courses were actually used.

Speech communication courses at the University of Florida are

required by a number of major fields and usually include a

wide variety of academic areas of study. Because of the

required nature of the course even many individuals who

experience high levels of CA must complete the course before

meeting graduation requirements. Because the subjects were

enrolled in a speech class, however, they had some expectation

of the communication behaviors expected of them. Apprehensive

individuals would also be aware of course obligations and

develop some means of dealing with the anxiety (McCroskey,




76

1983). The oral performance phase of the experiment could

even be seen as a minor speaking assignment.

Further, though no instruction in listening had been

specifically given before the experiment, introductory lec-

tures on the nature of the communication process had been

delivered. The interdependence of speaking and listening

would have been mentioned in the lectures as well as in

beginning text material. A syllabus of the course given to

all students also contained notice of a unit on listening.

Subjects could well have been prepared to make the most of a

listening assessment situation.

Subjects were also informed that the experiment directly

involved an assessment of their listening ability. This

direct instruction may have induced a predisposition to

listen. Receiver apprehensive subjects may have been moti-

vated to concentrate carefully because of the test situation.

In a regular classroom environment it is doubtful that stu-

dents exhibit such close attention to a speaker or lecture

material. The difficulty in assessing listening involves

this trade-off between a controlled, reliable, valid measure

of listening and abnormal listening behavior on the part of

the subjects.

Another limitation of the research may concern the audio

tape of the STEP. Tapes were, of course, preferable to indi-

vidual reading for each test and allowed for a controlled

testing situation. Instructions concerning the threat or

non-threat situation were also recorded. However, the




77

"threat" may have been more effective if it came from a "live"

person such as instructor or test administrator rather than

from a disembodied voice on a tape.

Instructions for delivery of all test material were fol-

lowed faithfully. The STEP Manual called for 30 seconds

between each test answer to allow students time to reflect

on choices. In this instance, however, the time lag may have

been too long. The researcher observed that some subjects

appeared bored and impatient with the rate at which test pas-

sages were read. They were particularly impatient with the

length of time between answer choices. For future research

with college students, the rate of presentation should be

quickened. As an added result, test time could be shortened

considerably.


Implications for Future Research

Areas for future research in listening and communication

are wide and varied. Four specific suggestions for research

will be discussed here. First, research must be done on the

nature of the listening process itself before adequate measures

of assessment can be developed or a thorough consideration of

variables influencing the individual's ability to listen can

be conducted. The lack of current knowledge based on recent

research often leads to reiteration of information which may

or may not be valid in today's changing social and educational

contexts.

Second, the area of RA must also be researched in greater

depth. The few existing studies have dealt primarily with the




78

identification of the trait and the development of adequate

measurement, both necessary and important to the building of

knowledge. Now, however, more research on the effects of RA

on the educational and social development of the individual

is needed. The cause of RA and the variables affecting its

development and impact on the individual must be assessed

before a comprehensive understanding of its relationship to

listening can be achieved.

Third, research should again be aimed at discovering the

influence of RA and SA on listening comprehension. The find-

ings in this study should be viewed as only preliminary

research. Experiments involving larger subject populations

and different testing situations should be considered. Cer-

tainly, groups other than speech classes should be tested and

a number of other listening assessment measures implemented.

Another important area for future research would be the

consideration of levels of listening other than comprehension.

Though comprehension is basic to the other levels and the

easiest to measure at the present time, individuals are not

called upon to listen at this level exclusively. In an edu-

cational system, critical or evaluative listening is often

necessary. Certainly, in interpersonal contexts, evaluative

as well as appreciative listening is appropriate. It may be

that RA and SA affect the varying levels of listening differ-

ently and methods of assessing their effect must be developed.

The complexity of the communication process involves a

countless number of variables as does the typical classroom




79

situation, all of which need to be considered for a thorough

understanding of listening in an educational environment. It

is impossible and impractical to isolate or control for all

such variables. Based on conclusions gleaned from a thorough

review of literature, this experiment tested the effect of

the independent variables of level of RA, level of SA and

test condition on the dependent measure of listening compre-

hension.

The findings of this study show that RA and SA are

separate and distinct dimensions of CA and should be con-

sidered independently when assessing their effect upon com-

munication. However, neither RA nor SA appeared to have any

effect upon an individual's listening comprehension in an

educational environment. Nor does threat condition or mood

state significantly influence performance on a measure of

listening comprehension. An additional variable of speech

training, though initially considered important, was also

determined to be insignificant in this study. These findings

suggest that variables not accounted for in the present study

may have a measurable impact on student listening comprehen-

sion and indicate a need for further research into the broad

and, at present, inconclusive area of communication labeled

listening.











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APPENDICES





























APPENDIX A


PERSONAL REPORT OF COMMUNICATION APPREHENSION (PRCA)
1970







APPENDIX A


PERSONAL REPORT OF COMMUNICATION APPREHENSION (PRCA)


This instrument is composed of 20 statements concerning
feelings about communicating with other people. Indicate
the degree to which the statements apply to you by marking
whether you (5) strongly agree, (4) agree, (3) are undecided,
(2) disagree, or (1) strongly disagree with each statement.
Work quickly; just record your first impression.

SD D U A SA


1. While participating in a conversation
with a new acquaintance I feel very
nervous.

2. I have no fear of facing an audience.

3. I look forward to an opportunity to
speak in meetings.

4. I look forward to an opportunity to
speak in public.

5. I find the prospect of speaking mildly
pleasant.

6. When communicating, my posture feels
strained and unnatural.

7. I am tense and nervous while partici-
pating in group discussions.

8. Although I talk fluently with friends
I am at a loss for words on the
platform.

9. My hands tremble when I try to handle
objects on the platform.

10. I always avoid speaking in public if
possible.

11. I feel that I am more fluent when
talking to people than most other
people are.

12. I am fearful and tense all the while
I am speaking before a group of people.


1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5



1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5



1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5






SD D U A SA


13. My thoughts become confused and
jumbled when I speak before an
audience.

14. Although I am nervous just before
getting up, I soon forget my fears
and enjoy the experience.

15. Conversing with people who hold
positions of authority causes me to
be fearful and tense.

16. I dislike to use my body and voice
expressively.

17. I feel relaxed and comfortable
while speaking.

18. I feel self-conscious when I am
called upon to answer a question or
give an opinion in class.

19. I face the prospect of making a
speech with complete confidence.

20. I would enjoy presenting a speech
on a local television show.


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APPENDIX B


RECEIVER APPREHENSION TEST (RAT)
1975