Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

First Advisor

Dawn Besinger


Universities use public speaking courses to reduce the communication apprehension among the student population of the institution. Previous research connects lower communication apprehension to higher university retention rate and higher student success rates. However, a gap in current research does not explain if communication apprehension reduction is as significant when a student enrolls in a public speaking course taught online as opposed to a public speaking course taught in a traditional face-to-face manner. The purpose of this study was to explore the efficacy of systematic desensitization as it is used in public speaking courses online. This study set-out to answer two research questions:

1. Does the technique of systematic desensitization significantly lower communication apprehension for students taking a public speaking course online compared to traditionally taught face-to-face courses? 2. Do students who choose online public speaking courses have a higher level of communication apprehension than those who choose the traditionally taught public speaking courses?

This study found that there were no significant differences in lowering communication apprehension when comparing effects of systematic desensitization methods from the public speaking courses taught online and those taught traditionally. The study also found that there was no significant difference in levels of communication apprehension for student populations which chose to enroll in the online public speakingcourse when compared to the traditionally taught course. The benefits of offering public speaking to lower communication apprehension for students in a higher education setting are seen similarly in the online offerings as they are seen in the traditional courses.