Master's Theses


Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The relatively unique United States system of jury trails finds citizens from all walks of life being placed into a position of awesome responsibility. Quite often this entails passing judgment on the disposition of another human being’s life. Jurors are placed in a position requiring exceptional skills in listening abilities. However, they set about their task with no special training to aid them in their appointed endeavor of determining a verdict. This study investigated the effects of a short listening course (SLC) administered to a treatment group, a second group receiving a mere instruction to listen carefully, and a control group. Subjects in the treatment group were pre-tested and post-tested with the Watson-Barker Listening Test to validate the effectiveness of the SLC. A statistical analysis proved significant, verifying their “improved” listening ability. All three groups (N=59) viewed an edited video-tape of actual criminal trial proceedings and were tested with a 20-item instrument. Responses were made on a true or false basis using a 5-point Likert Scale. Statistical analyses revealed no overall differences in the responses to the 20 items taken together. However, certain subsets of the items did reveal some group differences. In particular, the test items focusing on “visual information only” and “direct quotations” were statistically most sensitive to group differences. These results suggest the treatment group was most confident and less variable in answering certain test questions, reflecting better listening skills.


Willis M. Watt

Date of Award

Summer 1995

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1995 Joyce L. Frey


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