How does speaking confidence effect students ability to participate in higher education, employment, and civic life, with reference to working class

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sociology & Social Policy


Across the United Kingdom there is a clear divide between those who have the ability to speak confidently and those who do not. Research indicates that students with a greater speaking confidence are much more likely to succeed in academia, and thus advance further in employment (Druckman and Bjork, 1994). In the current education climate it is seen that students are educated in a way that focuses predominately on exam success. Pioneering work in the 1970s by Wilkinson introduced the notion of oracy, which framed the significance of speaking and listening in education. However, today the notion of oracy across education appears at a standstill. A fundamental purpose of my proposed research will be to understand how talk is approached in higher education. To date, there is a shortage or research surrounding the importance of oracy in higher education. Therefore it is the purpose of my proposed research to take seriously the role of speaking confidence in higher education; to explore the divide between students who have had the opportunity to develop essential communication skills and those who have not; and, most importantly, to devise new methods and principles for incorporating communication confidence within the higher education curriculum. Literature review
"Oracy" in Higher Education Davies et al., (2017,p. 968) have explained, over the "past decade, there has been an increase in research on the value of classroom talk... however to date, most of this research has been in elementary/primary schools". Along with the lack of research supporting the need for oracy to be taken into account in higher education, it is the traditional teaching culture associated with universities that limits the scope for dialogical teaching. Despite the "recent shift of instructional paradigm from valuing and encouraging students to be silent" the tradition of the dictated lecture is difficult to change (Remedios et al., 2008, p.201). As it is often assumed the teacher knows best, and in consequence there is no perceived need for students to provide their views" (Davies et al., 2017, p.971). Yet it is essential that students are not just passive listeners, but act as sources of information, as there is evidence that students benefit greatly from dialogical talk (Remedios., et al, 2008). Despite evidence in the literature that discourse is key in the learning environment, there is also strong evidence which underlines the difficulty of creating valuable discourse in the classroom, as many students do not have the confidence nor the skill set to fully participate in dialogic discussion. The lack of oral skills' teaching in higher education may be a cause of anxiety associated with oral assessments and oral practical's. Speaking Anxiety There are many different forms of speaking anxiety, ranging from Communication Apprehension, which "refers to an individual's level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication" (Shi et al., 2015, p.125), to Public Speaking anxiety, which is a "social anxiety that arises from the real or anticipated enactment of an oral presentation" (Shi et al.,2015, p.125). Effectively, it appears that feeling anxious about presenting or talking in public "is a common experience" (Shi, et al. 2015, p.125). Overall, there are a range of sociocultural factors which contribute to PSA: "confidence in language, confidence in knowledge, previous educational experiences, and expectations of roles influenced the learners' willingness to con- tribute to the academic talk" (Engin, 2017, p. 78). Yet a common factor appears to relate to confidence - specifically is the lack of confidence that arises from the absence of oral practice. The most tangible solution is to teach students the skills they require and with which they will become more confident in public speaking.situations.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000746/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2113170 Studentship ES/P000746/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Bethany Grace Hillian