Emotional Intelligence and Graduate Employability

Dacre Pool, Lorraine orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2049-8670 (2011) Emotional Intelligence and Graduate Employability. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis explores the role played by emotional intelligence (EI) in graduate employability. It also investigates whether or not it is possible to teach EI within a Higher Education (HE) environment in order to develop these abilities in undergraduate students and enhance their employability potential.
To evaluate possible measures for this research, Study 1 investigated the underlying dimensionality of a new self-report measure of EI, the Emotional Self- Efficacy Scale (ESES) and its relationship with more established measures of individual differences: ability EI, trait EI, personality and cognitive ability. Participants included 822 undergraduate students and 263 graduates already in the workplace. Analysis of the data suggested a multi-dimensional factor structure for the ESES which could be used as a reliable measure of emotional self-efficacy (ESE). The results of the study were also interpreted as offering support to theoretical models of ESE that propose a difference between people’s actual emotional skills (ability EI) and their judgments of these abilities. From the findings of Study 1 the measure was deemed appropriate for use in Studies 2 and 3.
Study 2 investigated the relationship between ESE and graduate employability. The ESES was used, together with measures of employability and career satisfaction. These were completed by 306 graduates in the workplace and the data analysed using structural equation modelling. ESE was found to be an important predictor of graduate employability. Additionally, employability was found to mediate the relationship between ESE and career satisfaction. Previous theoretical work has proposed that adaptive emotional functioning is a key element in the development of graduate employability. This study is the first to provide empirical evidence of this relationship and some recommendations in light of these findings are proposed.
There is evidence to suggest that EI is an important predictor of health, wellbeing and, more importantly for this research, a number of employability-related outcomes. Study 2 established that ESE is also an important predictor of graduate employability. Study 3 investigated whether or not it is possible to teach and develop EI and ESE in undergraduate students who will shortly join the graduate working population. An innovative intervention delivered through a taught undergraduate module based on established EI theory was developed. This was delivered to 66 undergraduate students, who completed measures of ability EI and ESE at pre and post intervention. The study included a control group of students who participated in a different taught module and provided comparative pre and post intervention data. The findings demonstrate that it is possible to improve both ability EI and ESE in young adults, through teaching and learning strategies aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding of emotional functioning. This is the first study to design, deliver and evaluate an ability EI and ESE intervention for UK based undergraduate students.
The findings from Studies 2 and 3 provide support for the idea that ability EI and ESE can be taught within HE with the resultant positive implications for graduate employability.

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