Dissertation Defence: Pups Uplifting Public Speaking (P.U.P.S.): Developing a canine-assisted intervention to support children with public speaking anxiety
January 19, 2024 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Camille Xinmei Rousseau, supervised by Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, will defend their dissertation titled “Pups Uplifting Public Speaking (P.U.P.S.): Developing a canine-assisted intervention to support children with public speaking anxiety” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies.
An abstract for Camille Xinmei Rousseau’s dissertation is included below.
Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
Public speaking anxiety (PSA) is a common form of social anxiety. Young students are prone to
experiencing PSA, particularly as they reach puberty, yet there is a dearth of interventions
designed to support these students. To address this gap, the overarching aim of this research was
to conduct a series of studies that collectively inform the design and development of a canine assisted
public speaking program for students with PSA in Grades 6 and 7, titled Pups Uplifting
Public Speaking (P.U.P.S.). Study One sought to understand and identify how public speaking is
situated in the classroom, vis-à-vis curricular expectations and target outcomes, and how students
with PSA are supported by teachers. Three 1-hour focus groups with five participants each were
conducted to glean insights from Grade 6 and Grade 7 teachers in British Columbia (BC). Study
Two explored the lived experiences of Grade 6 and Grade 7 students with PSA. Twelve students
participated in a semi-structured interview to capture the strategies and supports that students
with PSA lean on to address their PSA. Study Three examined 13 dog-handlers’ experiences
volunteering in canine-assisted interventions (CAIs) for children. An online survey was
administered to capture key considerations for the successful delivery of CAIs for children.
Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews were transcribed following which an
inductive analytic approach was used to identify codes. Codes were winnowed into categories
and subsequently collapsed into themes and subthemes. Salient themes and subthemes identified
within each study are discussed. Findings from across the three studies collectively informed the
identification of seven guiding principles for the P.U.P.S. program: 1) Choice; 2) Community
centric; 3) Fun and engaging; 4) Safety; 5) Structure and scaffolding; 6) Technology enhanced
learning; and 7) Therapy dogs as a source of support. These principles are presented within the
broader discussion of findings from across the three studies. The dissertation concludes with a
presentation of the P.U.P.S. program in chapter 7.