INTENTIONAL CHANGE AND MOTIVATION TO CHANGE. EXPLORING COMPETENCE ASSESSMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Statement of the objective and structure
The objective of this paper is to explore the association between intentional change and motivation to change regarding competences. Firstly, we theoretically explore motivational theories and competence models. Secondly, we empirically test present and desired competence levels. Our data on competences comes from the self-evaluation of a group of university students using an ICT-based tool, called Cycloid, to evaluate the social and personal competences required for the work-role of project manager. The aggregate competence map is complemented with a post-evaluation questionnaire organized in 5 main sections: 1) contributors to competence development (formal education and professional experience), 2) subjective validity of the tool, 3) attitude and intention towards change, 4) factors hampering development, and 5) profile information. An additional questionnaire captures students’ state of motivation towards change.
In the present educational context, the process towards the European Higher Education Area aims at shortening the distance between students preparation to employers requirements. Thus, students’ competences are becoming a priority for universities, since employers are already focussing on personnel competences. Such challenges for education drive change in learning curricula, method, attitude and performance evaluation, among others.
Although motivation, a facet of general attitude, is one of the basic pillars of the learning process, it receives low attention in practice. In this paper we try to assess students’ positioning on a motivational scale and link it with their awareness and intention to change.
Description of methods
The application of Cycloid was conducted during October 2011 at the University of Girona (Spain). Students were in their second year of their Work, Labour Relations and Human Resources Master studies. Their obligacy to perform their Practicum in a business, and the fact that some of them were already working, made them especially receptive to competence evaluation and to consider themselves as project managers of their learning career or in professional environments.
RQ1: What are students’ perceived competence strength and weaknesses at present and in the future? This question gives the answer to the identification of possible improvement areas, or intentional change. Once this gap is identified, as a natural consequence we raise the following question:
RQ2: Do they really want to change? or using a motivational scale the question is where they situate?
Discussion of results
Preliminary results show that students detect as strengths: emotional awareness, commitment, initiative, trustworthiness and developing others. On the other hand, main weaknesses include: stress tolerance, language proficiency, decision quality, flexibility and relationship building. Due to the ongoing nature of data processing and exploitation, at this stage, we are unable to provide ever preliminary results for the attitude and opinion issues. Still, we believe that these results have important implications for different communities: students, teaching staff, Master degree management, university management.