Beyond employability: the benefits of volunteering for psychology students

Bromnick, Rachel and Horowitz, Ava and Shepherd, Daniel (2012) Beyond employability: the benefits of volunteering for psychology students. In: The Higher Education Academy STEM Conference, 12- 13 April 2012, Imperial College London.

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Abstract

Within the current economic climate, students are seen as needing more than a degree to succeed in securing the all-important first position after graduation. One way that students choose to enhance their employability is through engaging in voluntary work. In this empirical study, undergraduate psychology students‘ reasons for volunteering are explored within the context of enhanced employability. A total of 86 students enrolled on an extra-curricular employability programme were asked to reflect on their reasons for undertaking voluntary work. Thirty-nine students provided a written narrative account in response to the simple prompt ―why I do voluntary work‖. Their responses were analysed together to identify key themes and subthemes. The results revealed two superordinate themes, labeled ‗self-focused‘ and ‗other-focused‘ motivations. Within each of these, four subordinate categories were identified. These were for ‗self-focused‘: personal rewards, employability, skills and personal growth; and for ‗other-focused‘: belonging, helping, generativity and valued. The key finding from this analysis was the large degree of cluster overlap within individual participants‘ responses. The inductive analytic strategy allowed for a model of strongly interdependent motives to emerge. Students clearly benefitted from both volunteering and the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and motivation. The findings are discussed in terms of their value for promoting volunteering for psychology students, in and beyond the context of employability. In conclusion, the study as a whole is offered as an example of how academic staff in psychology can break down the competing demands between quality teaching, research and supporting students‘ career development learning.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:Within the current economic climate, students are seen as needing more than a degree to succeed in securing the all-important first position after graduation. One way that students choose to enhance their employability is through engaging in voluntary work. In this empirical study, undergraduate psychology students‘ reasons for volunteering are explored within the context of enhanced employability. A total of 86 students enrolled on an extra-curricular employability programme were asked to reflect on their reasons for undertaking voluntary work. Thirty-nine students provided a written narrative account in response to the simple prompt ―why I do voluntary work‖. Their responses were analysed together to identify key themes and subthemes. The results revealed two superordinate themes, labeled ‗self-focused‘ and ‗other-focused‘ motivations. Within each of these, four subordinate categories were identified. These were for ‗self-focused‘: personal rewards, employability, skills and personal growth; and for ‗other-focused‘: belonging, helping, generativity and valued. The key finding from this analysis was the large degree of cluster overlap within individual participants‘ responses. The inductive analytic strategy allowed for a model of strongly interdependent motives to emerge. Students clearly benefitted from both volunteering and the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and motivation. The findings are discussed in terms of their value for promoting volunteering for psychology students, in and beyond the context of employability. In conclusion, the study as a whole is offered as an example of how academic staff in psychology can break down the competing demands between quality teaching, research and supporting students‘ career development learning.
Keywords:Employability, volunteering, psychology, content analysis, reflective practice
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5135
Deposited By: Alison Wilson
Deposited On:02 May 2012 06:00
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:06

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