21st Century Workplace Competencies and the Connection between the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Undergraduate Students
AuthorMoore, Joshua Dane
AdvisorMars, Matthew M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn 2010, an Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) study (Crawford, 2010) found that the agricultural industry representatives, Land Grant University alumni, and government employees look for certain skillsets (e.g., communication, leadership) in prospective employees. With the U.S economy recovering from a major economic recession, a greater number of new UA graduates with undergraduate degrees from CALS have cause to be concerned about their overall workforce competitiveness. Crawford's 2010 study examined which soft skills students should possess in order to be deemed hirable by the agriculture industry. Building off of Crawford's research, the current study involves a needs assessment that examines how students perceive 21st century workplace competencies. Specifically, this study will explore and describe the level of perceived importance and ability of 2015 UA CALS students graduating with baccalaureate degrees specific to 21st century workplace soft skill sets. Such identification of needs gaps will lead to greater understanding of the connection between industry demands, higher education institutions, and undergraduate students. The current research required the generation of data capable of leading to insights into the current development needs of undergraduate students in the agriculture and life sciences disciplines specific to 21st century workplace competencies. Student perceptions of such competencies were measured first according to perceived importance, and then perceived ability (Borich, 1980). This descriptive research gathered information from participants with the goal of measuring, summarizing and generalizing among the study's target population (Ary et al., 2010). The results suggest which competencies UA CALS undergraduate students perceive to be important and how they perceive their own abilities within each competency. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the data relevant to each of the four research objectives framing this study. In particular, measures of central tendency and variability were used to assess the perceived levels of importance and ability subjects placed on individual competencies. To describe the professional development needs of CALS students in the seven constructs that together categorize 21st century workplace competencies as a whole (professionalism, team, leadership, decision making/ problem solving, experiences, communication, and self-management), mean weighted discrepancy scores (MWDS) were used to analyze the need for the competencies. Borich's needs assessment model was used to reveal the areas of highest training priority as determined by the MWDS.A web based questionnaire with multiple points of contact yielded 61 respondents with diverse backgrounds (e.g., transfer status, geographical background, major fields of study, co-/extra-curricular involvement) from across the college. Of the 52 competencies included within the seven competency categories, 16 had an MWDS that was prioritized as a tier I professional development need, which is of the highest priority. Of the remaining competencies, 20 of them had MWDS's that indicated tier II priority level set for professional development need. Lastly, there were 23 competencies that had MWDS's that indicated tier III priority level set for professional development need, which is the lowest priority level. Recommendations for curricular innovation to better foster student development in the context of the 21st century workplace are provided.
Degree ProgramGraduate College