A Penny for Your Thoughts: Can participation in a Student-Industry conference improve students’ presentation self-efficacy and more?
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Success in a modern world requires more than just technical skills, with employers requiring graduates with a range of skills which can be critical for job performance and career advancement (Cohen, 1999; Tucker & McCarthy, 2001). An important graduate attribute is good communication skills (Usoff & Feldmann, 1998), with self confidence a key its development (Reinsch & Shelby, 1996). The literature also demonstrates that the use of professionals and industry representatives can enhance students' confidence and their self-belief (Subramaniam & Freudenberg, 2007). It is on the basis of these findings that a full day Student-Industry Conference involving first to third year students in a number of related undergraduate financial planning courses was developed. The conference provided opportunities for these students to come together and present research papers that they had worked on in their courses. These student presentations were attended by not only other students, but also industry representatives who were involved in the assessment process. Furthermore, students had the opportunity to listen to a number of relevant industry speakers on current topics and research in the field. This also included discussions about the overall direction of the industry and the graduate recruitment process. Through this and other mechanisms, the Student-Industry Conference was designed to allow for the improvement of students' self-efficacy through mastery, modeling and verbal persuasion. This paper details the empirical evidence as to whether students' participation in this Student-Industry Conference improved their self-efficacy, particularly in terms of their communication skills. Data from a questionnaire of participating students indicates that the students perceived greater self-efficacy as a result of this initiative. With such improved self-efficacy students may be able to enhance their careers in the future.
The International Journal of Learning
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