Addressing unrealistic optimism with counterfactual reasoning in an employability module in higher education

Journal article


Hanson, Jill and Burke, Ciaran 2020. Addressing unrealistic optimism with counterfactual reasoning in an employability module in higher education. Journal of Applied Research in higher Education. ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print). https://doi.org/10.1108/jarhe-02-2019-0047
AuthorsHanson, Jill and Burke, Ciaran
Abstract

The study aimed to explore the effect of second year business students engaging in counterfactual reasoning on their unrealistic optimism regarding attainment on an employability module. Using an experimental design, the study compared the module performance of those who generated reasons why they would and would not achieve a series of specific grades. A control group who did not generate any reasons also took part. Students who generated reasons why they would not achieve a good grade were less likely to be unrealistically optimistic and more likely to attain a good grade on their assessment. This is a small sample of students from one form of programme, so replication with a greater sample drawn from other programmes would increase reliability. The results suggest an easily applied and practical way of engaging students in employability modules to support their development of a range of capitals.
The findings are considered in relation to the theory of possible selves, the value for students, particularly widening participation of students, of improved engagement with employability modules and the possibility of applying this technique in wider educational settings. This paper extends Hoch’s (1985) original study by considering the use of counterfactual reasoning for assessment performance and offering a an easy-to-apply tool for module leaders to support student attainment in employability development modules

KeywordsEducation; Employability; Counterfactual reasoning; Unrealistic optimism
Year2020
JournalJournal of Applied Research in higher Education
Journal citationahead-of-print (ahead-of-print)
PublisherEmerald
ISSN2050-7003
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/jarhe-02-2019-0047
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/625142
https://www.emerald.com/insight/site-policies
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/
hdl:10545/625142
Publication dates01 Sep 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited01 Sep 2020, 11:29
Accepted27 Jul 2020
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Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

ContributorsUniverity of West England and University of Derby
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