Building Capacity for Work-Readiness: Bridging the Cognitive and Affective Domains

Suniti Bandaranaike, James Cook University, Australia and I just had an article published that focuses on an analysis of students’ and employers’ perspectives during work placement, especially on student emotional work readiness. The article is titled: Building capacity for work-readiness: Bridging the cognitive and affective domains.

The article was published in a special issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 2015,16(3), 223-233 and is available from this link:

The work builds on the Work Skill Development (WSD) framework, which is a sister framework of the Research Skill Development framework. We are currently exploring how to manage the connections and segue between explicit research skill development and work skill development. The idea is that students do not experience a disconnect between the world of work and the world of university, but rather see them sharing similar cognitive and affective skill sets that use different terminologies and different emphases.

Suniti summarises the article:

Work-readiness capacity is a function of both the delivery of tertiary courses and the accompanying assessment standards. Work-readiness delivered through placements/internships often focus on cognitive skills and knowledge with little emphasis on emotional skills and affective knowledge. This study therefore, looks at empirical evidence of work-readiness of students through their learning experiences and their understanding of both the cognitive and the affective domains. The research is based on a validated employability framework, the Work Skills Development framework (Bandaranaike & Willison, 2009), which was used to assess core employability competencies and performance levels of 138 multidisciplinary WIL students and gain feedback from 111 employers. Statistical analysis was used to compare variations in the application of cognitive and affective skills and tested across gender, age, discipline and previous work experience. The study concluded that whilst overall students had limited understanding of affective skills, employers’ emphasised the need for greater use of affective skills in the workplace. In order to unlock the potential of the cognitive skills and for a deeper understanding of affective skills by students, this research introduces the concept of Emotional Work-readiness [EW] as a pathway for building work-readiness capacity.

How important do you think understanding the emotional aspects of work is for students on workplacements?


Author: johnwillison

Senior Leturer, Discipline of Higher Education, School of Education, University of Adelaide.

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