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Addressing unrealistic optimism with counterfactual reasoning in an employability module in higher education

Hanson, Jill; Burke, Ciaran

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Authors

Jill Hanson



Abstract

Purpose: The study aimed to explore the effect of second year business students engaging in counterfactual reasoning on their unrealistic optimism regarding attainment on an employability module. Design/methodology/approach: Using an experimental design, the study compared the module performance of those who generated reasons why they would and would not achieve a series of specific grades. A control group who did not generate any reasons also took part. Findings: Students who generated reasons why they would not achieve a good grade were less likely to be unrealistically optimistic and more likely to attain a good grade on their assessment. Research limitations/implications: This is a small sample of students from one form of programme, so replication with a greater sample drawn from other programmes would increase reliability. Practical implications: The results suggest an easily applied and practical way of engaging students in employability modules to support their development of a range of capitals. Social implications: The findings are considered in relation to the theory of possible selves, the value for students, particularly widening participation of students, of improved engagement with employability modules and the possibility of applying this technique in wider educational settings. Originality/value: This paper extends Hoch’s (1985) original study by considering the use of counterfactual reasoning for assessment performance and offering a an easy-to-apply tool for module leaders to support student attainment in employability development modules.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education
Print ISSN 1758-1184
Electronic ISSN 1758-1184
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Hanson, J., & Burke, C. (in press). Addressing unrealistic optimism with counterfactual reasoning in an employability module in higher education. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-02-2019-0047
DOI https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-02-2019-0047
Publisher URL https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/jarhe

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This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com







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