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Relationship Between Public Speaking Fears and GPA

Executive Summary

In the contemporary world, the ability to be expressive amongst large audiences has become just more than a plus point; it has become a highlighting factor. However, social phobia is prevalent amongst masses and is primarily categorized by short term memory loss, trembling, and embarrassment when addressing a public. The research aims to explore the relationship between public speaking fears and grade point average (GPA). The study was conducted with students and faculty members at a reputed business school. Students were administered a combination of open and closed-ended questions and conclusions drawn from the outcome. Faculty members were interviewed with open-ended questions targeted towards relevant dependent variables associated with public speaking. The results indicated a significant relationship between available speaking skills and students’ grades. It was further recommended that communication courses should be integrated into the curriculum of high school and bachelor’s level of education.

Keywords: Public Speaking Skills, GPA, Grades.

1. Introduction​​ 

1.1 Background​​ 

​​ A study on public speaking fears in a community sample (Stein & Walker, 1996) studied the relationship between public speaking fear and social phobia. One-third of the model reclaimed that they​​ experienced immoderate anxiety when they spoke to a broader audience, and the fear was most prevalent (90%) for the age bracket of 18-20 years. The search further elaborated on the types of fears associated with public speaking, including short-term memory​​ loss, embarrassment, trembling, and saying things otherwise not meant to be said.

The research was commissioned by Arch Gen Psychiatry and was published online in February 1996.

1.2 Objective of the Study:​​ 

The purpose of this report is to study the influence of public speaking on a student's GPA. This report also recommends ways to promote the culture of learning available speaking skills.

1.3 Statement of Problem:

​​ For many years people have debated whether student performance in terms of grades and grade point average has influenced the capabilities of​​ public speaking of an individual. While many people have agreed that there have been disagreements to the stance by those who believe that available speaking capabilities are irrespective of students' performance academically.

​​ 1.4 Method of Investigation

​​ Questionnaires were issued to 60 students and 15 faculty members at the Institute of Business Management. Those students who had the skills of public speaking were interviewed along with the communication​​ department's faculty. The students who were facing many difficulties due to the lack of available speaking skills were also interviewed. References were also made to books, blogs, newspaper articles, and literature reviews.

1.5 Limitations

​​ The research limitations include the longitudinal effect, the measure of change, and stability was influenced by the short duration in which the study was carried out. Fluency of language was also considered as a limitation. Another factor was the sample size; the research was carried out on a sample of the total population. The results were generalized and transferred. Fourthly, since the questionnaire designed provided useful​​ information about the influences of grades on public speaking skills, it doesn't have enough evidence to determine the actual behavior.

1.6 Ethical Considerations

​​ As part of considering research ethics, the organization's name where the questionnaire was administered wasn't disclosed. Also, the questionnaire didn't include questions that were​​ deemed to be personal or offensive. It was ensured that informed consent was taken before the research was conducted, and the confidentiality of research respondents was respected at all times. It was also confirmed that individuals who participate in the​​ study voluntarily avoid harm to participants.




1.7 Delimitations​​ 

​​ Delimitations include convenient sampling; the questionnaires were administered to students enrolled in a particular communication course and delimited the research to faculty members in​​ a specific organization.

​​ 1.8 Scope:

 ​​​​ To study the influence of Public Speaking on students, a thorough consideration needs to be made on various aspects other than improving their speaking ability. This report looks into a wide range of areas where public speaking plays a significant role, and this includes developing leadership skills, persuading, expand networking; establishing trust, create publicity, societal influence, overcoming fear, influencing the world, tuning non-verbal skills, establishing new​​ professional and social contacts, critical thinking, ​​ personal development and creating inspiration.

2. Literature Review:

​​ Dwyer (1998) concluded that individuals high on communication apprehension in public speaking were associated with sensing personality type while individuals low on CA on public speaking were of intuitive personality. Undergraduate students of fundamental public speaking course at Midwestern University were given questionnaires during regular class timings and the data collected showed that individuals having a fear of communication and participation have a high score in intuitive and cognitive ability tests were as students having high CA were open to sensing and observation-based activities (p.436).

Stankov,​​ Lazar, Lee, and Jihyun (2008) found that confidence is closely related to cognitive performance, as personality and social beliefs are part of nature. The study also concluded that males display higher confidence as compared to females (p. 121).

Research by Ihmeideh, Al-Omari, and​​ Al-Dababneh (2010) indicated that students with a grade point average (GPA) 2 and above showed a favorable attitude towards communication skills compared to students with GPA below 2. The research also concluded senior students have practical communication skills as compared to sophomore and junior year students. The study sample was extracted from the educational science college and Queen Rania Childhood College and was tested using a communication skill attitude scale (CSAS) (p.8).

Kovalik (2011)​​ authored a study on the impact of multilingualism on grade point average amongst college undergraduates. ​​ The study was conducted in the educational sociology course during the fall 2011 term with a questionnaire of 118 questions administered to 353 students. The research concluded an insignificant relationship between multilingualism skills and GPA. The majority of students who spoke more than one language reported having a similar GPA to those with expertise in one​​ language. It was noted that students who​​ said more than one language had a slightly lower GPA showing a somewhat negative relation.

Research by Bovee (2010) stated that you are set to tell people what you are thinking when speaking. To support our ideas, we try to give evidence that is acceptable and convincing to those who have had this experience. The words we speak or the ideas we present cater to support our opinions or proof, but they also tend to shape our thoughts. To think critically, it is necessary to make it a practice to question your​​ belief by expressing them aloud. Saying out loud can help you make decisions and help you shape better conclusions. Even if you are driving or walking, give a loud speech to yourself and justify your decision with an address. Critical thought is created and expressed in a precise language and a good idea.​​ 

Research by Ibrahim and Yusoff (2012) stated IT and communication skills root up new opportunities for learning and teaching. In today's era, education is not restricted to books; it has expanded from interactions to social media. The paper study results from a review of data obtained from students at a university in Malaysia. Forty students taking a Public Speaking course completed an end-of-semester survey. The survey was conducted to consider the reactions of students in a mixed learning environment to the use of wikis. Informing decisions on the course delivery​​ framework and incorporating new digital learning and teaching technologies to use the survey results. The study's results suggest that the students found that the use of the wiki, especially in obtaining input and enhancing speech delivery, facilitated their speech preparation process. Although some had reservations about publishing their speeches publicly on a wiki, they understood that it was to their benefit. Therefore using the wiki in a blended learning environment was advantageous to the Public Speaking course.

Research by Grewe and Seurer (2010) supports the effects of Public Speaking on a student's performance. Public Speaking, as much as​​ helping students, also caters negatively to a student's account. The Public Speaking anxiety distinguished as fear of speaking in front of others can bring about adverse physiological and psychological effects within the students. Within the classroom's specific context, public speaking anxiety negatively affects a student's academic coursework performance.

A study by Shanahan (n.d.) on "Oral Communication Apprehension: an Exploration in Addressing Fear of Public Speaking." Many researchers have identified​​ that oral communication skill is the most desired quality among many managers by their employer. However, not every individual indeed acquire this skill. This research was an attempt at measuring the​​ level of apprehension, i.e., fear of communication. ​​ The​​ sample consisted of 291 students. A questionnaire was distributed, which consisted of 24 statements and ranged from 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree.' The results showed that 22% of the sample scored a higher OCA. ​​ 2 students were interviewed, and they reported that the more they try to communicate, the worse it gets. This study recommended the school system to give each student an OCA questionnaire, and if the results are negative, then training should be given to the students. ​​ Counselors could also be appointed for such students.

Research by Feldman, Cohen, Hamrick, and Lepore (2004) supports some impressive findings in a public speaking challenge focused on a study of psychological stress, evaluation, emotion, and cardiovascular response. This research was carried out on 43 undergraduates (30 males and 13 females) and called for a speech or reading task to be completed. I was preparing to write, which contributed to a more generous hazard, negative emotions, and cardiovascular response assessment than preparing to read aloud. The CV reaction above planning was not increased by the delivery of a voice. This evidence supports the hypothesis that in these studies, CV response is partly accounted for by psychological processes and indicates​​ that these processes should be better observed before or after public speaking during stressor anticipation.

Ayres and Hopf's (1985) research supports the claim that 14 percent of students enrolled in an introductory public speaking course encountered the same degree​​ of stage anxiety recorded by respondents from Richmond and McCroskey. Richmond and McCroskey (1985) estimated that 20 percent of the 30,000 people surveyed suffer from extreme contact apprehension (anxiety linked to some actual or planned contact), as Ayers discovered. Students participating in several portions of a public speaking introductory class acted as participants. 80 of the 120 students eligible to participate in this study participated. The 40 students who didn't participate incorrectly filled out​​ the pre-test forms, and some were absent during the research. The participants aged from 18 to 26. Of those respondents, thirty-three were men, and 47 were women. This study predicted that fearful individuals exposed to public speaking are exposed to Virtual Reality Therapy lower levels of trait and state will self-report Comprehensive Assessment, self-report being more willing to communicate, and indicate more self-perceived communication competence a Visualization treatment and a control group. ​​ 

Scott (1988) study found the following "A learning strategy is a method of study a student employs to handle an academic task. Using the same strategy, not all academic tasks can be completed every time, but students are likely to favor one particular strategy to​​ handle many different academic tasks. Thus, students' grades on a given task may be due to differences in students' preferences for the task's strategies, such as public speaking. The respondents consisted of 215 undergraduate students from Texas Tech University, and the study was conducted on them. The sample consisted of 117 males and 98 females."

Research by Lampkin, Collins, and Lewis​​ (2015)​​ on Active Learning Through A Debate Series In First Year Pharmacy Self-Care Course(2015) indicated that active participation is necessary for students; most students expressed taking part in the dynamic learning level headed discussion arrangement was in any event somewhat compelling in enhancing confidence level, critical-thinking, communication, public speaking, research methods, and teamwork. Once the debate series was implemented, it was easily maintained. Thus, the debate series was useful as an active-learning classroom tool to use in conjunction with effective learning to improve overall education.​​ 

Furthermore, a study was conducted by​​ Glenda (n.d.) investigate the transition of undergraduates from their colleges to universities in terms of their oral communication skills.​​ The study used a qualitative means of research. A survey was carried out in 24​​ reputed business companies, 16 of which were large employing up to 500 employees. A 5 point linker scale was used based on how often oral communication was used at the workplace ranging from sometimes to continuously.​​ The findings showed that verbal communication most often occurs with colleagues and superiors​​ at the workplace.​​ Undergraduates’ business curriculum should have a communication course made compulsory. This effort will produce many advantages for the students. According to​​ Peel (1999a), this will prevent significant demoralization and loss of hope from the student's perspective about themselves and their skills, leading to higher university attendance. This skill is valued during university life by building social and informal academic networks​​ and immensely helping a person enter the workplace. In conclusion, one effective way to incorporate proficient English speaking skills in undergraduates is to bring changes in their first-year curricula and provide group-based projects where interpersonal​​ communication is encouraged.

The middle school years are highly formative and provide the building blocks for essential skills that will allow students to succeed in high school , college, and later in life, according to research by Bauschard and Rao (2005). Students engaged in such exercises showed the ability to consider divergent viewpoints, objectively engage opposing views, and think about how to weigh and resolve opposing positions. The CCE (2005 ) contends that the behaviours of middle school students can have meaning outside the classroom. Speech and debate engagement is certainly an occurrence that has that meaning. Students chat and address topics important to their local and national cultures, strive to convince judges and other students to address their point of view, and frequently confront topics of their own identities when race and gender issues are brought into the debates.

Hasina Habil, Ph.D., carried out another study; Noor Abidah Mohammed Omar, Ph.D.; Yusuf Boon, Ph.D. and SM Zafar Iqbal (September 2012) titled, “The Picture of Modern Environment and Oral Communication Skills of Engineering Students of Pakistan.”. This study investigates the impact of oral communication skills on engineering students from various reputable universities in Pakistan. Employers seek candidates equipped with not only technical skills but also non-technical​​ skills during recruitment and hiring. According to Sutton (2002), an engineering candidate with a stronghold over the English language and presentation skills​​ prove beneficial for the workplace and its business. The methodology used in this research was of the purposive sampling method (Singleton & Straits, 2005). Data was gathered using questionnaire surveys and semi-structured interviews conducted with 30 working engineers and seven engineering students from different Pakistan universities. The questionnaires were based on a 5 point linker scale ranging from 15. Quantitatively the data were analyzed using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) and qualitatively through three techniques: data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification. The interviews' findings show that engineering students' main barriers were lack of experience and confidence while giving oral presentations at the workplace due to their language or communication teachers' failure to provide sufficient practice to their students in the classroom. In conclusion, more communication courses must be added to the Curricula of Pakistan's engineering universities to enhance the nontechnical skills, enable them to contribute to this country's human capital, and decrease the severe unemployment issue of engineering graduates both nationally and internationally.

Research published by Alim (2002) on informative speech in a university public address using the extemporaneous speech method showed that the study conducted by the researchers in three days meeting resulted in a positive change among students; it helped them in improving their public speaking skills, the impromptu speech method proved to be very helpful. Students showed massive improvement in conveying their ideas and presenting the outline. The lecturer succeeded in implementing the extemporaneous speech method in teaching public speaking in a university classroom and the students. It could be judged by the student’s performance while giving speeches and presentations. The students learned and applied the extemporaneous speech methods in their lessons well.
 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ A research carried out by Stefanou and Glennon (n.d.) on developing motivation and cognitive learning strategies through an undergraduate learning community results of the study showed that both motivation and learning strategies for students were changed significantly as a result of participation in the public speaking sessions, all the motivation factors that were measured in this research were affected as well, intrinsic motivation, feelings of self-efficacy and test anxiety were tested. This study's aftereffects were empowering because they recommend that speaking sessions influence students' inspiration and utilization of subjective learning​​ procedures. A group of students, which joins different public speaking sessions, underscores dynamic and shared learning and coordinates data innovation and library​​ assets to learn. It can serve as a successful classroom setting for growing first-year students' inspiration subjective public speaking procedures.​​ 

4. Research Methodology

4.1 Primary Research Question​​ 

 ​​​​ Does Public Speaking Skills have a​​ significant role in determining students grading as presentations and class participation influence the teacher’s impression of the student?

4.2 Introduction

To investigate the correlation between public speaking skills and grade point average (GPA), it was imperative to survey students' and teachers' perceptions. Following are the research objectives of the study:

  • To find the frequency of students who score high academically and have efficient communication and public speaking skills.

  • To find out the frequency who score high but don’t have well developed public speaking skills.

  • To find out the characteristics of individuals possess public speaking skills.

  • To assess the importance of public speaking skills in professional careers.

  • To decide the steps that can be taken to improve public speaking skills amongst students.

4.3 Research Method​​ 

To use a quantitative and qualitative approach was to investigate the correlation between public speaking skills and GPA. A questionnaire with close-ended and open-ended questions was administered to students, and conclusions were drawn from the responses.

Hand-held devices were used to interview faculty members who had to respond to open-ended questions based on students' performance in class and generalize their viewpoints. The interview consisted of 4 open-ended questions designed to target relevant dependant variables of public speaking, such as confidences, fluency of language, body language, and​​ clarity of essential idea delivery. The questions were directed towards students who have stable academic performance and have groomed public speaking skills.

4.4 Participants​​ 

To collect the questionnaire, an open-ended questionnaire was used to questionnaires of 60 students enrolled in Business Communication courses in a reputed business school in Pakistan. The sample roughly contained an equal number of male and female students to improve the results' validity.

10 Faculty members from varied departments at different levels of the hierarchy were also interviewed regarding students' performance in class and general context.

Illustration 2) Summary of Participants




Teachers (10)

Students​​ (60)

4.5 Ethical Considerations​​ 

The participants' privacy was ensured, and that it was made sure that​​ question questions relating to the participants' personal lives were excluded. Also, as a part of privacy, the institution's name where the questionnaires were administered was not revealed.

5. Finding and Discussion

The Study targets the influence of Public Speaking on student's grades. To collect the questionnaire, an open-ended questionnaire was used to data and information from students and faculty members of a renowned Business School in Karachi. Both qualitative and quantitative data findings have been explained in this section.

Illustration 1) Summary of Primary Research


It was figured out that most of the students in the sample agreed that GPA does get affected by one's public speaking skills. 50 out of the 60 students had answered this question and yes, which makes 83.3% out of the total percentage. It was found that students have a strong belief that public speaking greatly influences their grades. Some students responded as "Of course! "Very much," "Yes! It has a major influence on our grades",​​ "Enormously," "Obviously," and one of the respondents answered as "Definitely does! Public speaking highly influences your presentation and class participation, which directly affects our GPA". These results showed students perceive public speaking as a significant factor in determining their final results and grades. ​​ 

However, the ten students who had responded differently gave some explanation in our questionnaire. Since university courses are a mixture of mathematical, communications, language, and accounting subjects, some people answered our question 1 as "to some extent." Since public speaking does not significantly affect courses such as Mathematics, Statistics, and Accounting, some respondents answered as "to some extent" and "depends on the course." However, seven respondents had replied as "No," and one of​​ them said, "Certainly not, there is no other influence other than motivation."​​ 

This question differed from student to student, and different answered were shared by most of the respondents. However, after compilation, it was deducted that 57 out of the 100 students responded as "Yes," saying that they have had teachers who valued public speaking and credited them in their final grades. One of the respondents said, " Yes, many teachers from the communication department," and two other students respondent with names of their teachers who they thought valued public speaking and who granted grades based on evaluation of their available speaking skills.

The rest of the 43 students believed that they had not met any teacher who valued public speaking skills. Most of the answered were found as "No," and one of them mentioned, "No, students are credited based on their term presentation only," and 6 of them replied as "to some extent."

It was found that​​ students with good public speaking abilities were advantageous because the answers to this question showed public speaking had played a significant role in improving one's grade and that many students had benefited through their speaking skills. 88 out of​​ the 100​​ students have answered this question as "Yes" One of them answered as "Yes, the confidence you gain in public speaking can enhance your skills in answering and understanding questions in the exam." Whereas the rest 12 questionnaires gave us various​​ answers, some of these were recorded as "Maybe," "To some extent," "In some courses only," and "No."​​ 

"Among the sample, this question was found to be very common, where 92 out of 100 students replied" Yes, "some of them said," Obviously. "One of them said," there are is already a society of public speaking that everyone must join to enhance confidence" The other one said, "Yes, because it would refrain people from being bookish." Only eight students answered as "No," and of them said, "Maybe."

The response provided by the students was found to be quite interesting. It was found most of the students said they feel stressed, nervous, and panicked. Some of the answers included "Good Feeling," "I feel pretty confident," "Can't wait to get done with it," ' I feel okay," "Normal," "Relaxed," and one of them mentioned they feel " Lazy" before their presentation.

90 out of the 100 respondents answered as "Yes." The rest of the ten respondents said “No," and one of them mentioned, "It depends on the topic," whereas​​ another respondent replied as "Maybe."

Most of the students found that public speaking has helped them in their academics. Since 90 answered that they possess good available speaking skills, most of them responded to this question. One of them mentioned, "Yes helps me in term projects," another one said, "It helps seeking teacher's attention leading to biases in grading even if hourly are not done well" and another one says "Good presentations means good grade" and "Teachers usually like those students who​​ have good public speaking skills."

Since only 10 of the students had responded no o the previous question, the answers were found to be " For GPA, we need to study, so speaking skills don't always work." One of them said, " Perhaps for someone with a low GPA, Public speaking might help" Some of the people refused to answer this question.

93 out of the 100 students gave a positive reply to this question, saying that they believe their teachers consider public speaking skills in their minds while​​ determining the final grade. Answers such as "I think​​ class participation has a lot to do with public speaking; thus yes I believe it is considered when final grades are made," "Yes, I think everything should be kept in mind to determine the final grade,"​​ "Yes a lot of teachers consider this," "Yes most of them I must say" refer that most students think their teachers do consider their presentation skills when calculating the final grade. However, some of the students responded as "Sometimes," "Rarely," and​​ "No." Overall, the response showed that students have come across many teachers who believed that their presentation skills should significantly impact their final grading.

6. Conclusion

Evidence repeatedly showed the significance of public speaking skills in student's grades and CGPA. When asked about the influence of speaking on qualities, one of the students said, "Enormously!" that showed students believed it is essential in determining their grades. Answers to this question indicated that public speaking had been given a lot of significance in the educational sector. Universities and colleges have now focused only on academic examinations to students' presentations and oral communication skills. Many Institutes and Universities give more weightage to students' confidence and speaking ability in class; in fact, some institutes have​​ started allocating a significant percentage of marks only towards class presentation and public speaking skills. When the research was done on this institutes' final grade rubrics, it was found that in most courses taught here, approximately 40% of the total grade depends on the oral presentations and class participation, which ensures that final qualities do depend on one's presentation skills. ​​ 

However, when asked about teachers who prefer grading according to students' speaking ability, only 57% said they had had teachers who chose grading o the basis of presentations. In contrast, most of the students said it depends on the course they are taught. In institutes, a mixture of techniques is introduced that included Statistics, Mathematics, Accounting, and other subjective and objective methods. It was found that majorly in emotional courses such as management, marketing, communications, and social sciences, public speaking greatly influenced the final grade. However, in other objective methods, more weightage was given to examination marks and quiz results than speaking skills. ​​ 

Students usually felt nervous and worrisome before presenting in front of a broad audience. When asked about their self-assessment of their presentation skills, 90% believed they possessed good presentation skills and thought they delivered a confident speech when asked to present.​​ Although many students are nervous before their presentation, they provide a proficient indication in front of their audiences once they start showing. Since this is very important in the making up for students' final grading, few of the students mentioned they are working on polishing their speaking abilities to score more in​​ their finals. Thus, it can be argued that this has become the fact that public speaking plays a significant role in deciding a student's final grade. Students look up to making a good presentation in class to obtain higher scores in their final phase.

7.​​ Recommendations:​​ 

Public speaking has become a key feature or element of any outstanding student, and that ability to speak gives students an edge in the competitive world that surrounds us today. Following are the recommendations based on the study:

  • Universities who strive to produce the best possible graduates might add courses concentrated on Public Speaking skills to help students overcome their weaknesses and enlighten them with the technical knowledge of Public Speaking.

  • Universities should strive to​​ promote fluency of language through making communication courses compulsory at Bachelors and Masters Level of education.

  • Applicants with preference should be given to those who have a strong command over their oral communication skills to motivate students​​ at universities and colleges to improve their speaking skills.

  • Universities might invite corporate leaders, public speaking coaches, and trainers to visit students from time to time to develop the skill.

  • ​​ More debate and public speaking competitions should take place within and among universities to encourage more students.

  • A student body should be appointed to help their fellows to overcome their weaknesses.

  • Teachers may stimulate more discussions in classrooms to help students to learn how to present their idea.


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