Modern-day students who are furthering their career prospects by embarking on postgraduate studies have high expectations about their employability after graduation. In line with these expectations, employers also have high expectations of graduates to contribute positively and meaningfully to quality outputs in the work environment by means of useful skills and positive arsenal characteristics.
According to Smith and Kruger (2008), graduates with employability skills should have the ability to optimally utilities opportunities to advance their careers in the dynamic world of work. Graduates, like employability, is viewed as a set of transferable skills that ensures the readiness of graduates to function optimally in the world of work (Whelan, 2002). Richter and Tykes (2006) credited research as a vital part of preparing graduates for the labor market. They also highlighted the different career opportunities in which research skills and knowledge could be utilized.
Research skills are also an advantage because they overlap with most of the skills listed for employability. For example, communication as an employability skill entails being able to access and deal with large amounts of information, and also includes quantitative literacy (Grilles & Parker, 2009). Both these skills are important and necessary for research. According to Hansen and Hansen (2009), analytical and research skills are some of the skills most sought after by employers.
Such skills in the realm of the research methods module that they mentioned were computer and technical literacy, ND planning, organizing and problem solving. This emphasis the value of research skills for graduates, not only for the knowledge of the methodology and experience of research processes that they gain, but also for the critical thinking and creativity elements encompassed in these processes. Graduates, with these skills, are able to express and position themselves in the scientific community through their research outputs (Slobber 2011).
Problem statement Clearly, research is essential in cultivating students’ graduates and employability, but of interest would be how students view this. The first question that could be asked that if students who are working already would view this differently from students who are not yet working. Secondly, one could ask if this perception of students would influence their commitment to their studies. Students are often underplayed in terms of their exposure to research methodology at undergraduate level.
Many disciplines do not require a course in research methodology at undergraduate level, while some may offer an introductory course on statistics in isolation, which is often presented outside the department. Students therefore often lack the accessory background in research methodology or statistics when starting their postgraduate studies (Lie & Canon, 2001 Massager & Wheelhouses, 2009). Furthermore, one could expect negative emotional experiences such as anxiety and fear to interfere with students’ ability to learn and master research concepts (Ballets, Hoffmann, Lynn & Weller-Ward, 2010; Lie & Canon, 2001 ).
Because of the challenges in teaching research and the fact that students often feel so overwhelmed by the mere thought of doing a module on research methodology, students do not remain motivated to do their best. Consequently, many experience despondency and anxiety when studying research -? some even at the mere thought of what is ahead and before even taking the first step in the learning process. The question could however be asked that if students regarded research skills to be pertinent for their employability, would this influence their levels Of commitment towards their studies?
Research Objectives The general aim of this research is therefore to determine if students regard research skills to be important for their employability, if students who are irking view this differently than students who are not working and if their opinion are related to their commitment to their studies. 2 The specific theoretical objectives are: To conceptualize research skills and employability from the literature. To conceptualize the relationship between employment status, research skills and employability from the literature.
To conceptualize students commitment to their studies. To conceptualize the relationship between students opinion regarding research skills and employability and commitment to their studies from the iterate. The specific empirical objectives would be: To determine the degree to which students regard research skills to be important for their employability. To determine if students who are working view their research skills and employability differently than students who are not working. To determine the degree to which students are committed to their studies. To determine if there is a relationship between students opinion of research skills and employability on the one hand and their commitment to their studies on the other hand. Method of investigation The methods and techniques that will be used to conduct this research is described next. Research design A quantitative, nongovernmental study will be performed. The specific research design that will be used is survey research. The survey design enables indirect observation through the use of structured interviews and questionnaires and getting a broad overview of a sample Of a larger population (Mouton, 2001).
This design allowed for a larger number of students to be included in the study and was appropriate to use in gathering information regarding their opinions of the 3 importance of research skills for their employability by means of a questionnaire at a specific point in time. Sampling The study population will consist of all honors students registered for a course in research methodology at a distance education institution in 2011 (N = 3098). An availability sample will be taken from this population and all registered students will be asked to participate in the study.
Data collection The following measuring instruments were used to measure the variables in this study: A Biographical questionnaire will be used to gather information about dents’ gender, qualifications, language, age, race and employment status. The data that will be collected to measure students’ perception regarding the importance of research skills for their employability and their commitment to their studies will be gathered as part of a bigger questionnaire that will evaluate students perceptions of their research skills, their attitude towards research and their employability.
The importance of research skills for employability will be gathered by asking students to rate five statements on a five point scale. The scale ranges from strongly disagree to strongly agree and tenements ask students to rate the degree to which they agree that research skills is important for their employability. An example of such a statement is, ‘Research skills are valuable to me for my employability. Students’ commitment to their studies will be gathered by gathered by a single item (l am fully committed to my studies this year) that needs to be rated on a five- point scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
In the development of the questionnaire, experts in the field of research and employability were asked to evaluate the face validity of the questionnaire. This 4 questionnaire has a test-retest reliability of 0. 85 and predictive validity of 0. 43 for predicting average academic performance. Data analysis Data analysis will be conducted by means of using SEPSIS. O. In order to determine the degree to which students regard their research skills to be important for their employability, descriptive statistics, namely a frequency distribution and the mode will be calculated.
An independent t-test will be used to determine if students who are working differ significantly with regard to their opinion from students who are not working. D-values will be determined to indicate the effect size of the t-test value (d = (Mean of group A – Mean of group B) divided by maximum standard deviation (largest standard deviation of the two groups). According to Cohen (1977) the following cut-off guidelines can be used for practical significance of differences between groups: d = 0,2 small effect; d = medium effect; and d = large effect.
Lastly, the Pearson correlation coefficient will be calculated to determine if there is a relationship between students’ opinion regarding the importance of research skills and their commitment to their studies. Effect sizes will be used to decide on the practical significance of the findings, where 0. 10 will be regarded as a small effect, 0. 30 as a medium effect and 0. 50 as a large effect (Cohen, 1988). Teeth kcal considerations Permission will be obtained from the ethics committee of the particular institution to conduct the study. Furthermore, all students will be informed about the purpose and requirements of the study.
They will be asked to sign a consent form before taking part in the study. The consent form will ensure them of the confidentiality of their results, remind them that they participate laundry and can withdraw from the study at any time and lastly that they 5 understand that their results will be used as part of a bigger group of results and not on an individual level.