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Virtual Reality for Reducing Public Speaking Anxiety in University Students
Students, as well as the population as a whole, often suffer from debilitating levels of presentation anxiety. Public speaking phobia can have a negative impact on students’ ability to function in the classroom, as well as their ability to effectively acquire a second language. This talk will discuss an ongoing investigation into the best methods for reducing this anxiety in students, including virtual-reality and imagination-based home practice, as well as course work and exposure to in-person speech acts. This program used a combination of exposure training, mindfulness training, and interventions based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to target presentation anxiety in the Japanese university student population. Preliminary results show significant levels of anxiety reduction within the participants, consistent with earlier findings within this ongoing program. How this experiment shifted to an online format in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will also be discussed, as will differences between participants who used more technological methods (VR) versus those who used more traditional methods for presentation practice. Participants’ comments from program interviews and surveys will also be presented to explore the nature of presentation anxiety and to help find best practices for classroom presentation activities and assessments by instructors.
Josh Brunotte is an associate professor at Aichi Prefectural University in central Japan. He primarily studies the intersection of technology and psychology, including the use of virtual reality for anxiety reduction purposes. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Nagoya University researching best intervention methods for reducing public speaking anxiety.