The effect of a targeted speech communication course on the public speaking self-efficacy of engineering undergraduates

Mieke Schuurman, Michael Alley, Melissa Marshall, Christopher Johnstone

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper reports on how tailoring a speech communication course at The Pennsylvania State University specifically for engineering undergraduates affected the public speaking self-efficacy of those students - a project partially funded by the Engineering Information Foundation. This paper focuses on the following research question: Did engineering students who completed an engineering section feel more confident in their ability to communicate effectively than engineering students who completed a regular section? Overall, students in the engineering sections increased their public speaking self-efficacy slightly more than students in the regular sections; this difference approached statistical significance (p = .06). One reason the differences in the increases were not statistically significant might have been because of the relatively small sample sizes: 52 reporting in the engineering sections, but only 23 engineering students reporting from the regular sections. One statistically significant increase did occur for the issue of visual aids (.02), which is not surprising since the engineering sections taught the assertion-evidence slide design, which has a stronger theoretical basis than the commonly followed topic-subtopic design propagated by PowerPoint's defaults. Approaching statistical significance was the issue of delivery, which follows because the engineering sections promoted the engineering style of thinking through the content and maintaining eye contact while speaking, as opposed to continually looking down at note cards. Because of these increases in the scores and the enthusiasm shown by the participating students for the engineering sections, the College of Engineering desires to increase the number of engineering sections to meet the anticipated demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Event2008 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Pittsburg, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2008Jun 24 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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