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The 21st Century Graduate: Delivering a tailored approach to social and emotional competency training for final year students to enhance graduate attributes and increase employability

Author Ailish Jameson, Dr Aiden Carthy, Dr Colm McGuinness and Dr Fiona McSweeney
Abstract The Higher Education Authority recently reported an average drop-out rate of 16% for Irish third level students, which poses significant pedagogical and economic challenges across the educational sector and negatively impacts the Irish economy. With respect to tackling this issue, a considerable body of international research has identified a strong positive correlation between higher levels of emotional intelligence (EI) and increased levels of student engagement and academic attainment. A wealth of previous research has also shown that employers favour graduates who possess higher levels of EI, for example, Job Outlook Survey, 2008, therefore, increasing students' levels of EI is also a viable means of improving graduate employment rates. Previous attempts to improve students' emotional competencies have involved 'whole school' approaches, whereby generic EI skills development programmes are designed and delivered to all of the students in a given school or third level institute. As of yet, no attempt has been made to develop a range of programmes explicitly aimed at targeting specific populations of students. Therefore, this represents a significant gap in current knowledge. This research aims to conduct a comprehensive survey of employers and based on these findings and follow up qualitative interviews, a suite of educational modules will be developed that will specifically aim to enable students to develop key emotional strengths that are linked with academic and career success in their chosen field of study. It is anticipated that this will lead to reduced attrition rates and higher engagement levels and allow students to develop key abilities that will help them to improve their employment prospects. Employer engagement will be a critical aspect of this project and employers will be involved in student assessment, which will include practical workshop assessments, self-reflection via an eportfolio and competency based interviews with employers and academic staff.
Keywords Emotional intelligence, social and emotional competency training, tailored suite of educational modules, graduate attributes, employability, engagement, e-portfolio, self-reflection
Published In ICEP Proceedings 2015
Date 2015
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