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College hats or lecture trousers? Stage fright and performance anxiety in university lecturers

By Susie Scott

Abstract

This article examines the experience of 'stage fright' in teachers in higher education, drawing on the dramaturgical perspective from sociology. Interviews were conducted with 10 'novice' and 'expert' lecturers, alongside focus groups with undergraduate students, to compare their perceptions and expectations. The students defined a good lecturer as one who communicated well and was friendly and approachable; this was not related to nervousness. The two groups of lecturers reported different strategies for coping with stage fright, which can be broadly categorised in Goffman's terms as 'cynical' (written scripts, backstage rehearsals, and dressing up) or 'sincere' (acknowledging nervousness, viewing students as team-mates, and reneging perfectionism). There was a general shift from cynical to sincere performances as teachers gained experience, suggesting that while feelings of stage fright may attenuate over time, we can also devise more effective ways of managing them

Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:sro.sussex.ac.uk:31325
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