Pecha Kucha Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

On becoming a professional: The role of Emotional Work-readiness (#302)

Sue Bandaranaike 1 , John Willison 2 3 , Lynette Torres 4
  1. James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia
  2. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  3. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  4. Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Work Integrated Learning [WIL] is intended by universities to meet the demand for work ready graduates (Patrick et al., 2008, p.3). Yet employers identify graduates as having cognitive skills but lacking the affective application of those skills. The concept of Emotional Work-readiness [EW] focuses on building emotional and social skills of the workplace to deepen the conceptualisation and understanding of cognitive knowledge in the work place. This research discusses EW in the context of placement students training to be future professionals. It focuses on the relevance of combining the cognitive and affective knowledge and skills in a workplace. The Work Skills Development framework [WSD] (Bandaranaike & Willison, 2009) is used to elucidate the level of understanding of cognitive and affective skills in the work experience environment. The research assesses the performance of 138 multidisciplinary placement students in their application of these skills. It also assesses feedback from 111 employers on their views in the practice of these same skills in the workplace. Statistical analysis is used to compare variations in the practice of cognitive and affective skills and tested against the dependent variables of gender, age, discipline and previous work experience. Information is gathered via reflective journals, interviews and feedback surveys. Current research at James Cook University indicates while students are more focussed on cognitive knowledge, reflections and practices, the employers emphasise further connectivity and practice of affective skills. This research is also being extended to and soon to be trialled with online affective learning activities at the University of Monash.  Emotional Work-readiness unlocks the potential of the cognitive skills to master and experience the significance of affective skills in the workplace. The poster outlines this relationship between cognitive and affective work skills and the pathway to becoming a professional.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

Being more receptive and adapting to the work environment through greater sensitivity to emotional and social skills [affective] while engaging in cognitive skills is relevant to an aspiring professional [Emotional Work-readiness]. Work Integrated Learning students are assessed in this study via the Work Skills Development framework [WSD] in their application and levels of autonomy in each of the six core employability skills of - Initiative, Resource Use, Lifelong Learning, Self-Management, Problem Solving and Communication. Further, each of these skills has an in built Emotional Work-readiness factor which is introduced to the student through reflective thinking [Journal entries] and feedback sessions. They receive feedback on their performance from the course coordinator and their mentors/employers. Learning to receive feedback and responding to external stimuli [feedback] and adjusting oneself readily to varying conditions such as incorporating emotional and social skills within the workplace is learning for life. In a complex dynamic world that is constantly changing it is appropriate to take on these challenges as lifelong learning and thereby work towards becoming a better professional.

  1. Patrick, Carol-joy, Peach, Deborah, Pocknee, Catherine, Webb, Fleur, Fletcher, Marty, & Pretto, Gabriella (2008). The WIL (Work Integrated Learning) report:a national scoping study [Final Report]. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.
  2. Bandaranaike, S., & Willison, J. (2009). Work Skills Development Framework.
Download Presentation