RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN COMMUNICATION APPREHENSION, AMBIGUITY TOLERANCE AND LEARNING STYLES IN ACCOUNTING STUDENTS
From the Bedford report (AAA, 1986) to the most recent education standards of the IFAC there is a consensus on the idea that the skills profiles of existing accountants will need to change in order to meet the challenges posed by the new environment. In order to meet these new challenges there is substantial evidence that the development of communication skills will be vital.
However, there is also strong evidence that accountants (and accounting students!) present not only lower levels of the desired communication skills but also present higher levels on certain characteristics that could act as constraints for an effective development of these skills, such as communication apprehension (CA).
As Dwyer (1998) states, educators have long been concerned with helping students who experience high CA to avoid negative academic consequences. A key question that should be addressed is to which extent CA is associated with other relevant characteristics of students, such as learning styles or ambiguity tolerance. Dwyer (1998) describes the learning style needs of high CA students, which appear to be different from low CA’s. Opt & Loffredo (2000) reported differences in Myers-Briggs personality type preferences, based on Jungian theory due to CA.
In this line, the main objective of this study is to examine potential relationships between CA levels, ambiguity tolerance (AT) and learning styles.
Measures for oral and written CA were obtained. Learning styles were measured by using the Grasha - Reichmann learning styles scale (GRLSS) and AT by using McLain’s MSTAT II.
The sample is composed of 300 undergraduate students enrolled at Sheffield Hallam University.
Our results indicate that high CA students present different learning styles that low CA students. High CA students tend to be less independent, more avoidant, less collaborative and less participant. All of them are characteristics that are associated with success in the EHEA context. AT appears to be correlated with CA and negatively associated with dependent style.