PROPERTIES OF A SHORT MEASURE FOR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION APPREHENSION IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
The importance of communication skills for graduates, regardless the field of work, has been clearly stated in relevant statements on employability, and is supported by the results of research. Therefore candidates with low levels of communications skills have lower possibilities of being selected in recruiting process or being promoted.
As a consequence, many degrees are including the development of such skills as an educational objective. However, communication apprehension (CA) appears as a main constraint for the success of such efforts.
In a first instance, high levels of CA have negative effects on how an individual learns to communicate, on attitude towards communication and on developing the skills to communicate effectively (McCroskey, 1997). Secondly, they are perceived as being
less competent and successful on the job, to require more training and to have more difficulty establishing good relationships with colleagues (Richmond, 1997).
The potential impact of CA on pedagogical efforts is indicative of its relevance. Therefore, the existence of a valid, reliable and short instrument (in order to be administered with other instruments, avoiding attrition and fatigue) it is of interest for the academic community.
The main objective of this paper is to develop and present a short but reliable measure for written communication apprehension, based on the Writing Apprehension Test (WAT) (Daly and Miller, 1975).
Two studies were conducted with undergraduate students enrolled in the Sheffield Hallam University (n: 404, n:228).
The results suggest that the short WAT, consisting of 6 items, presents adequate psychometric properties. The reliability is acceptable (alpha: .835) there are evidences of convergent validity (similar patterns of correlation with oral CA measures than the full WAT) and confirmatory factor analyses indicate an adequate fit of the model.
As main conclusion, the WAT-6 is a valid measure for written CA in pedagogical when a reduced instrument is needed to be distributed along with other questionnaires.