Student social anxiety; an exploratory study

Grant type: Development (2000-08)
Round: October 2005
Amount awarded £1,000.00
Completed: January 2008
Leader(s): Graham Russell
Organisation: University of Plymouth
Contact Email:
Contact phone: 01752 233170
Address: University of Plymouth, Room 517, Portland Square Building, Plymouth, PL4 8AA
The project involves inter-faculty collaboration, involving the School of Applied Psycho-social Studies, Education Development and Learning Technologies and Advisory Services.
However, the project team will be looking for opportunities to collaborate with other higher education institutions during the third phase of the project.
Start Date: 30 January 2006
End Date: 31 January 2008
Interim report received: 28 August 2008
Final report received: 27 March 2008
Student Social Anxiety: An Exploratory Web-Survey

This study explored the impact of social anxiety on a sample of 485 University of Plymouth and Partnership College students. Using the student intranet, the survey found that students experienced marked anticipatory anxiety and acute self-consciousness when having to speak out during seminars and lectures. Furthermore over 80% of students reported frequent embarrassment and anxiety during presentations. Students also reported avoiding seminars and lectures where the instructor was known to ask questions. Presentations were viewed as particularly stressful. In some cases, students swapped modules on realising there was an assignment involving public speaking. The students also reported problems with depression, stress, panic and relationships issues, including loneliness, feeling inhibited and discomfort in social settings.

Students were asked what improvements the university could make and they suggested that lecturers and personal tutors needed to know more about social anxiety. They also said that student support services were good, but needed to be more visible and accessible.

The report’s author can be contacted by email at: