Work Integrated Learning and Career Related Outcomes: A Person-Environment Fit Perspective
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The aim of this research program was to investigate how a final work integrated learning (WIL) placement for nursing students influences three variations of personenvironment fit (viz. professional fit, person-organisation, and person-job fit), and its relationship with career-related outcomes (viz. occupational commitment, job and organisational attraction, job and organisational choice intentions). While personenvironment fit (viz. professional fit, person-organisation fit, person-job fit) is one of the most commonly investigated phenomena in organisational research, limited research has investigated its causes and consequences within the WIL context. Thus, this thesis was designed in response to as yet unanswered questions concerning the causes of personenvironment fit and its consequence on career-related outcomes for the nursing profession. The focus of this thesis was Australian undergraduate nurses who completed a final WIL placement prior to their transition to practice in the workplace. Given that the nursing profession is currently experiencing a nationwide skills shortage, and high graduate turnover, this investigation was intended to offer additional understanding into graduate retention and job choice. Three studies were designed to investigate the relationship between WIL, personenvironment fit (viz. professional fit, person-organisation fit, and person-job fit) and careerrelated outcomes (viz. transition to practice self-efficacy, occupational commitment, job and organisational attraction, and job and organisational pursuit intentions). The first study was concerned with validating the measurement approach used for several constructs that have known conceptualisation and measurement limitations (i.e., professional fit, occupational commitment, transition to practice self-efficacy, social support, structured support, general self-efficacy, job and organisational attraction). The first study examined the discriminant III validity of each measure, and investigated the applicability of each person-environment fit construct on a sample of Australian undergraduate nursing students. A rigorous approach to measurement validation was conducted, which included exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and paired construct and shared variance tests. Results of the first study supported the measurement models to be used in studies two and three (i.e., professional fit, occupational commitment, transition to practice selfefficacy, social support, structured support, general self-efficacy, job and organisational attraction). One important implication from the first study was the finding that each dimension of person-environment fit (viz. person-job fit, person-organisation fit, and professional fit) was statistically distinct. This finding supported the propositions of personenvironment fit theory by demonstrating the applicability of each construct within the WIL setting for Australian undergraduate nursing students. The purpose of the second study was to investigate the causes and consequences of nursing students’ professional fit perceptions, occupational commitment and transition to practice self-efficacy. This study investigated the dual effects of individual (viz. positive framing, GSE, task negotiation) and environmental differences (viz. structured and social support) for their relationship with professional fit, and how changes in professional fit perceptions predict students’ transition to practice self-efficacy and occupational commitment. Structural equation modelling was used to examine the proposed relationships. The results demonstrated that both individual and environmental differences (i.e., task negotiation, social support, transition to practice self-efficacy) improved students’ professional fit perceptions. The results also demonstrated that professional fit improved students’ commitment to their occupation. The results of the mediation analysis revealed that professional fit has a central role to play in describing how WIL influences student’s IV commitment to the nursing discipline. For example, a positive WIL experience (i.e., high levels of social support) improved students’ commitment to the occupation through changes in students’ professional fit perceptions. The purpose of the third study was to investigate the causes and consequences of person-job fit (viz. demands-abilities fit and needs-supplies fit) and person-organisation fit within the WIL context. Additionally, the third study investigated how the WIL experience influences future job and organisational choice intentions for Australian undergraduate nursing students. This study investigated the dual effects of individual (i.e., positive framing, GSE, task negotiation) and environmental differences (i.e., social and structured support) on each dimension of perceived fit, and how changes in perceived fit (viz., person-job and person-organisation fit), predict higher levels of attraction (viz., job and organisational attraction), and future job and organisational choice intentions. Several models were compared using data collected from final year Australian undergraduate nursing students. Contrary to predictions, this study provided limited support for the prediction that individual differences influence students’ person-job (viz. needs-supplies, demandsabilities), and person-organisation fit perceptions. However, environmental differences in social and structured support were found to be important predictors of perceived fit (viz. person-job demands-abilities and person-organisation fit). Changes in students perceived fit (viz. person-job needs-supplies fit, and person-organisation fit) predicted higher levels of job and organisational attraction and choice intentions. One conclusion of this study was that WIL is an important experience that influences students’ future job and organisational choice through changes in student's perceived fit (viz. person-job needs-supplies fit, and person-organisation fit). Implications of the findings of the research program for organisational theory and WIL practice for nursing students are discussed.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy in Organisational Psychology (PhD OrgPsych)
School of Psychology
Item Access Status
work integrated learning